Housemarque, for me at least, has embedded itself at the top of the twin-stick shooter heap. With other classic games like Dead Nation and Resogun already under their belt, there was high hopes for Alienation. How does it stack up? Find out below.
The premise is simple : Alienation is an isometric twin-stick shooter game set in a future in which aliens are invading Earth. After a large portion of the population has been murdered or mutated,humanity's fate rests with a group of four soldiers from UNX (a military group assembled to help prevent alien attacks). The Bio-Specialist can heal other team members and create poisonous trails (Which can become very handy when you're overwhelmed). The Tank is able to create a shield behind which players can stand behind, allowing players to manoeuvrer more easily and last but not least, tte Saboteur has the ability to become invisible, and can call in airstrikes when needed.
Small comparisons can be made to Diablo, which Is a fair comparison. In the game, you can get random loot, either from enemies, or loot crates. These will almost always drop weapons of varying quality, with white (Common) being the worst quality, and Orange (Legendary) being the best. In addition to the weapons, you'll also collect cores, which can be inserted into weapons to boost a varying amount of stats (ie Critical chance, fire rate, damage etc) and these can be added to Primary and Secondary weapons.
As you kill enemies, you'll also level up your character. Levelling up will grant you ability points, which you can spend on three active and three passive abilities, chosen from several options on a trio of skill tree, ranging from health through to boost longevity.
If you need to go to the toilet, go beforehand. There's no pausing the single player game. I can only assume that this is due to the drop-in/drop-out nature of the multiplayer aspect. That being said, I really never had an issue, as most missions could be completed in around 10-15 minutes, depending on the difficulty you play on.
As far as the end game is concerned, it's pretty good, and has only been approved upon since launch via patches. The maximum level for your character is 30. Once you reach that cap, you instead gain "Hero" levels (Similar to Pargon levels in Diablo) Instead of gaining ability points, you'll instead gain a permanent increase to your health. Further to this, obviously the loot that drops will also be better post level 30.
You can also do Ark and UFO missions. These are essentially Alienations form of dungeons, and can sometimes reward the player with decent loot, especially in the Ark runs. At the end of every floor, you can take the loot, or you can continue on in the hopes of scoring better loot. Sometimes the trade off is good, other times not so much, but that's the risk you take and I personally like that challenge.
Overall, this is my favourite Housemarque game so far. I really didn;t think they could top Dead Nation, but they have, in a big way. The addition of random loot and the levelling system really puts this in a tier of its own, and I really hope they can build on the game going forward.