A few days ago, I told you about a turn-based strategy game called Attack of the Earthlings recently released by Team Junkfish where the tables are turned and you get to play the aliens defending their way of life from the evil humans. Well, we downloaded it and put it through its paces. Without any further ado, this is what we thought of it.
The story starts off with the peaceful (maybe) Swarmers calmly minding their own business looking through rubble for, well whatever Swarmers look through rubble for, when the drilling / mining ship for the comically dysfunctional energy corporation, Galactol lands on their planet. Though rather crucially, they not only land on their planet for the exact purpose of extracting every resource from their home but the Galactol ship also lands directly on Swarmer co-workers as well.
Well, needless to say this gets their gander right up and they’re not going to stand for it anymore. So, they do the only thing that a carnivorous transmorphic alien can do. They decide to sneak on board the mining ship and do what they can to make the problem “go away”.
Once on board, as a Swarmer you have to stealth attack your way through the ship, creating lifeforms and evolving them to ensure the human problem is dealt with effectively, though rarely cleanly.
Attack of the Earthlings takes place on a map broken up into squares. Every alien has a set number of action points they can use per turn. These points can be used for movement, attacking, eating corpses, creating units, hiding in vents. Well pretty much everything.
At the start, you can dispatch most of the humans with one attack, and then quickly eat the evidence and hide before you’re found out. As the game progresses and you make your way through the levels of the ship, things get trickier. Enemies have more health, and take group effort to take them down.
The bulk of the gameplay revolves around the fairly simple premise that if you kill them before they see you, you’re not going to get shot and die, which is a good game-plan for many people.
As soon as I started playing my first thought was that Attack of the Earthlings has a sort of ‘X-Com: UFO Defense’ feel about. The board-like map where you plan out your moves, followed by the enemy taking their turn is strikingly reminiscent, but this is no bad thing. X-Com: UFO Defense is still one of my favourite games. I spend hours combing maps trying to find the one last alien that spend the entire game walking backwards and forwards in the furthest corner of the map.
As you sneak, kill and devour the unfortunate residents of the mining ship, you collect biomass which is currency within the action turn-based part of the game. Biomass is used for creating more aliens, after all you can’t do everything yourself, plus these smaller aliens can nip about in the vents and ducts which can be key to getting rid of some of your enemies. Biomass is also used for evolving your little aliens, there are several different types and each has a different set of stats and a specific ability. One form works like a tank; another has a ranged attack etc. You’ll need to create and evolve your aliens if you are to succeed at each level.
Depending on how successfully you complete each level you will be awarded Mutagen. The amount of Mutagen you gain depends on a number of factors such as whether or not you were seen, if any or how many of your little alien-darlings bought the big one etc. etc. Mutagen is used to purchase new skills or to provide other bonuses.
There are not many levels in Attack of the Earthlings but each one can take a fair while to navigate and complete depending on how carefully you make your way through. Sometimes, one simple mistake can mean you’re spotted, and things start getting a little hairy. You’re not as equipped to win an open fight as you are a stealthy fight.
Attack of the Earthlings is not the hardest game in the world. There aren’t a great deal of levels and there’s no level or random or procedural generation, so every time you play that level it will always look and work In exactly the same way. That’s not to say there aren’t some tricky bits, or bits that you need to think properly about, but once you’ve figured it out the solution will always be the same. Obviously this also has an effect on the replayability of Attack of the Earthlings, which means it suffers in this regard compared to say X-Com : Defense.