Attack of the Earthlings – Review

Yeah-yeah… We all know how nasty and evil humans are. This idea is used so often today that from an unconventional plot twist it became a trope. Yet, in Attack of the Earthlings, people are not just egoistic greedy bastards, they are also incredibly stupid.

They can’t think of anything other than their pleasure and can’t do anything productive unless they need to save their own skin. Yet even the latter isn’t assured, as most of the time, they don’t see what’s right in front of them. Sometimes, literally! Add to this how full of themselves corporate bosses are and you’ll get the picture of a species so awful and pathetic that taking the role of an alien swarm to massacre them isn’t a moral dilemma at all.

Prometheus: The Videogame

While Aliens and Prometheus were obvious sources of inspiration, Attack of the Earthlings doesn’t follow the conventions closely (indie companies can’t afford to pay royalties for one thing). You don’t need living human hosts to carry out your embryos. Just kill, eat corpses and they are immediately processed into universal “biomass”.

And from that biomass, the queen… I mean, Matriarch will generate new “units”. Grunts are the most basic ones – they can run, crawl into the ventilation ducts, inflict basic damage… and evolve into three different kinds of beasts.

Goliath is made for open confrontation. It’s a killing machine, able to inflict extra damage to several enemies at once, and protected by an armor that can be temporarily boosted. It can even regenerate if you get all the upgrades.

Disruptor is a ranged unit. Great for dealing with mines and exploding enemies. It also has upgrades – blinding shot, squeaking that lures enemies, illusion generated as a decoy. Quite a versatile tool for making complex schemes and manipulating your foes/prey.

And Stalker is essentially upgraded Grunt. It too can crawl vent ducts (unlike other “advanced” types), but also has increased movement points, ignores armor (you did expect human soldiers having armor, didn’t you?), deals double damage on backstabbing and places traps that make people unable to attack. Great for stealthy takedowns.

Creeping Alien, Shortsighted Guard

Stealth is key in most situations. The fact that most enemies have a very limited cone of vision greatly helps you move undetected. Though you also should consider sound – people tend to be disturbed when hearing dying screams and then alien chomping, even from across the wall.

That’s why if you stumble on several guards standing too close to each other, use a group attack function that allows you to set a target for each unit and then execute all at once. Sadly, you can’t make several ranged attacks at once.

There are lots of puzzle-like moments in the game as you need to figure out how to eliminate people without alerting nearby guards. Luckily you don’t have to think about randomization – there isn’t any, even damage rate is fixed.

Still, later on, you’ll get tougher opponents. Banshees explode on death. Pathfinders have 360 degrees sight. On one level everyone wears a personal forcefield that serves as an insane amount of armor – thus it’s useless to attack at all until you destroy the generator.

It’s actually one of the great things in this game. After the first couple of levels, it’s never just “destroy all humans”. The goal varies and you’ll often have special conditions and side objectives. Once you must protect Matriarch for several turns. And try doing it without losing a single unit. Or the opposite – escape from the area before it’s “purged”. But will you be able to kill elite mercenaries along the way? How about completing a mission to destroy a power generator with a single grunt without losing it?

Even with the lack of intellect, guards are diligent enough to check your last location they saw or suspicious sound they’ve heard.

Though I must admit that rewards for your feats (completing side missions, killing all enemies, achieving goals quicker) aren’t very impressive. You just get an achievement and maybe a bonus cut-scene. Plus additional “mutagen”, but does a hundred points mean something when each upgrade costs thousands and you already get such amount for simply completing the level?

Evolution Done Quick

So basically, the amount of upgrades is just defined by the default amount of mutagen that you are rewarded for each mission. Though even that amount doesn’t vary much depending on your performance, how you distribute it before the mission absolutely does matter.

You see, there are four “branches” in your “tech tree”. For Goliaths, for Disruptors, for Stalkers and for the Martiarch, who can fight as well, even you can’t lose her, or it’s Game Over. And between the levels, you can reassign any of your choices. Like if the next mission you expect to have lots of fights, “turn on” all upgrades for Goliaths at the expense of other abilities, “turned off” for other unit types.

There is also one special upgrade that allows converting one(and only one at any given time) civilian into a drone that can walk snooping around without (well, almost without) suspicion. But it’s anyway default and not very useful.

That’s all, humans!

Yes, it’s all. Because the game isn’t large itself. There are just seven levels (plus tutorial) and there are no multiplayer whatsoever. You can easily beat everyone and get the top boss in eight hours. Maybe more, if you want to collect all the achievements.

Still, for what it’s worth, Attack of the Earthlings is a neat indie turn-based tactics. With decent challenges and funny dialogues between your human enemies. Even if not all the characters are voiced, it still makes a lot of stingy jokes about corporate culture and human morality (or lack of thereof) in general. Definitely worth it, especially with a discount.

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