Alienation Review - Violence at its Finest

In an age where most popular studios are obsessed with open worlds and first person perspective, Housemarque's work is absolutely refreshing. This small, independent Finnish developer has gotten a considerable amount of fame because of their focus on one aspect of video game making: quality. Seriously, the pedigree these guys have is undeniable. It's hard to be impressed by a game you're already expecting to impress you. However, Alienation managed to do it, in quite a few ways.

So, what is Alienation all about? Well, it is a top-down, twist stick shooter set in a universe in which the aliens have taken over. You and your crew are the last chance for humanity to kick ass and regain control. A spiritual successor to 2010's 'Dean Nation', you go from mission to mission, uncovering why the planet is in such an awful state, and making sure your intergalactic enemies pay for what they've done.

As soon as you get dropped into the game, you'll be surprised by how pretty it is. Overall, it's not as jaw dropping as Resogun's particle effects, but Housemarque took the horsepower of the PS4 and went to work. Running at 1080p/60fps, with no framedrops or stuttering, everything about the presentation is top-notch. The color palette is extremely intense and vivid, alongside some of the best explosions you will see on the console. Even outside of how the game performs, I was charmed by the variety in locations. Throughout the 10 hour campaign, you visit a plenty of different sites. From tropical jungles in Brazil, to snow fortresses in Alaska. Each environment looks unique, and is full of small details that bring them to life. To make is simply: the visual side is remarkably solid. And that's not even the best part.

Like most Housemarque titles, Alienation's biggest asset is its gameplay. Now, if you're expecting a straight sequel to Dean Nation, you might be disappointed. But I don't think you should. When you see the entire picture, this is a much more complete experience. First off, levels are much more open. Once you jump off your helicopter, you can do whatever you want. That alone makes things more exciting, as well as giving you a bigger playground to fight your battles. Sure, you can run through your main objectives if you're in a hurry. But you can also wander around, and discover another strong point in the game: its dynamism.

Indeed, Alienation is very complex. I was shocked by how dynamic my playthroughs were. As you're going through each mission, you'll notice that enemy spawns are completely randomized (increased replayablity). At times, a 'Horde' alert will show up, and hundreds of smaller aliens will run in your direction to try to rip your face off. Other times, you'll encounter a mini "boss", which is a regular enemy with better stats and certain abilities. Even if I have no problem with the mini bosses, I do wish Housemarque would have included the conventional, one-on-one battle against a humongous boss at the end of certain levels. I can only imagine how creative they could have gotten with it.

Regardless of who I was facing off against, I was ready to throw. Alienation's gunplay is astonishingly fluid, satisfying and chaotic. Gameplay wise, you also have three customizable classes, character leveling, configurable weapons/gear, and my personal favorite: loot. This is the first time Housemarque gets this deep with looting mechanics, and they absolutely nailed it. Opening crates scattered all over each level are full of XP and guns from different rarities. Playing on harder difficulties increases your chances of finding rare and legendary weaponry. This encourages you to take your time and explore every area, as you try to find every crate out there. Before you know it, you've spent your past 6 hours killing enemies to obtain finer tools, in order to keep killing enemies. It's an addictive cycle, and I loved every second of it!

Lastly, let's talk about multiplayer. After just a couple of hours, things get brutally hard. Attempting to fight through the end missions by yourself is suicidal. The amount of enemies you deal with at once is overwhelming. That's why you're encouraged to play with another person. Sadly, there is no couch multiplayer. This might be my biggest issue with the game, as the action is so much better when your partner is sitting next to you. And while they said they will include it later down the line, I just don't get why they would go online only. Having said that, the four-player drop-in/drop-out online multiplayer is truly fun, with no lag or game-breaking bugs.

Verdict: Alienation is another gem by the most underrated developer in the world. From visuals to gameplay, it redefines what a Housemarque game means. And from top to bottom, it's a gratifying experience I encourage you to try.

The Good
- Top Notch Presentation
- Fun, Chaotic, Addictive Gamplay
- Dinamic, Varied Locations
- Great Loot System

The Bad
- Lack of Couch Multiplayer
- No Big Boss Battles

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