Alienation works great as a single-player game, but it is even better when playing with others. More players means a greater representation of the different classes and the unique skills to which they have access, and players can revive one another should they die. Loot is instanced to each player, as well, so you don’t have to worry about someone grabbing everything up.
Any mission that you select from the main menu will show you all of the public games that are currently being run for that mission, what difficulty they’re set to, and how many people are already in that game. Thus you’re free to hop into some stranger’s game to hunt for loot and kick alien butt, or start a game of your own that can be set to public, visible to friends, or invite only. Rather than using voice chat, Alienation relies on set phrases mapped to the d-pad so you can communicate things like “Wait” or “Over here”.
While much of the game is very well done, there are a couple of flaws that stand out to me. The biggest is that there is very little explanation around some of the best features of the game. For example, you’re free to destroy the respawn points that are scattered throughout a mission at any time. If you do, you’ll get a “Reward Hog” bonus that pops up in the bottom right of the screen. It’s never explained what that does or why it’s worth destroying the respawn points. It turns out that if you destroy three respawn points and get that bonus three times, the reward chest at the end of the mission will spawn more loot.
If you die before completing the mission, however, that bonus gets wiped out. So there’s an entire risk/reward mechanic at play that never gets mentioned anywhere in the game and could be easily missed. Tied in with that lack of explanation is the other sticking point. If you want to play with friends, you all have to be at the same “world level.” That means if you beat all 20 missions and your buddy wants some help beating the last two, you can’t go back to assist and he or she can’t jump forward into your world. It’s a “feature” worth knowing about before it happens so you can plan with friends accordingly.
Throughout my time with Alienation, I have been consistently surprised at its depth and how well it executes on ideas/mechanics with which similar titles still struggle. The presence of end-game content in the form of the endless dungeon gives me hope that the developer could release even more for the game down the line. While the depth is great for anyone that wants to engage with it, the game works just as well as a fun arcade twin-stick shooter with some light RPG/loot mechanics. In a genre that feels inundated with slight variations of a few popular titles, Alienation proves that there are still innovative things to be done.
The Co-Op Experience: Join forces with up to 4 player co-op action, drop into your friends’ games for instant action and keep the aliens grounded.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.