AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game for review purposes.
Here is our gameplay video:
Genesis Alpha One takes us into the large expanse of space, where you are the commander of a space ship destined to find humanity a new home. It takes place in the “near future”, where pollution and corrupt regimes rule. And it is your last chance to save humanity, by finding a new planet to colonise.
When you start the game, specifically the tutorial, you are introduced to several factions you could start off with, even though only a few are available until you unlock the rest through playing the game and reaching some achievements.
There are ship virtual communication systems that introduce you to the various components of the game, such as building your ship, what each room does, and the different types of aliens you encounter. Once you start on your journey, your task is to find resources on planets that will enable you to build more rooms on your ship to ensure survival.
The main plot is simple: find a planet that is habitable by humans (or an alien species of your choice), make sure your ship has enough oxygen or any other relevant alien biosphere to make a certain number of clones, meet the requirements to inhabit the planet and send them down to start colonisation.
When you do reach the planet surface, there is a surprise or two waiting for you, that I won’t spoil for you, but that does make it rather exciting to end with. And the best part is, when the game is completed, you can choose to continue to find other planets to colonise, or start over with a new faction.
Each faction has its own unique set of skills, abilities, weapons and outfits, which is what makes replaying the game again exciting. Gamers that really enjoy the game will be able to play it over and over again, if only to see how the other factions play out.
Before I end the story section, I must just mention that there are other story elements about if you are willing to look for them. There are notes on aliens and abilities that are unlocked when you obtain enough DNA and ability samples from killing aliens. There are also sites on planets to investigate where you can find notes of others that have searched the planets before you.
The overall drive of the game remains with you finding a habitable planet though. There are obstacles in your path to make it harder, such as zones that will damage your ship if you do not have enough shields, and invaders that will enter your ship to completely destroy you if you do not have enough defense set up. I have restarted the game twice from simply not having prepared my defenses properly.
Even though I love the idea of searching for a new planet to help humanity survive, I felt that there could have been more story elements to the game that could have added more intrigue. Perhaps developed within the dialogue between you and your alien crew, which could have initiated some side missions. However, this does not detract from a game that truly is amazing.
When I first played the tutorial, the game felt very complicated to play. Besides having a wonderful first person shooter action feel to it, which was a surprise cross with a base building game, there was the initial struggle to get used to the game.
Yet, when I played the actual game after the tutorial, I was instantly addicted. I couldn’t stop playing for hours on end. The first person view while walking through your ship and landing on planets is utterly fantastic. It is what No Man Sky should have been like, but isn’t.
You will also have a great selection of weapons to start off with, while new ones can be obtained or researched from visiting sites on planets or killing aliens that have firearms. The best part is that there is no need to reload. Well, you will run out of ammo, which will require you to run back to your weapon stash and obtain more, or to create more in your Workshop, but the fact that I don’t have to reload every five seconds is really wonderful.
There is one small element that I think could be improved in the first person aspect. Aiming. I would have preferred the left trigger being used to aim through iron sights or scope rather than simply shooting from the hip only. The left trigger is used to give commands to your crew members on planet surfaces, but L1 could easily have been used for that function. Sometimes shooting at the smaller aliens on the ground is made harder by not being able to aim through sights and just shoot from the hip.
That is more of a suggestion than a complaint though.
Which moves us onto the ship itself. While running around the ship, you can complete some tasks in each room that you create. In the Clone Lab, you can use Biomass that you obtained from killing aliens and create clones if you have unlocked them. In the Workshop you can work on your weapons and defenses, and in the Greenroom you can plant and fauna you have found to increase the biosphere gasses for your human and alien clones. If you personally utilise a terminal, you can speed up any actions busy taking place. Or leave that up to any assigned crew to take care of.
You will be spending most of your time in a repetitive loop eventually. This is the loop of events I found myself performing when I reached my comfort zone:
- Decide which resources I needed for the rooms I wanted to build, clones I wanted to create or research I wanted to undertake.
- Go to the Bridge terminal and scan the sectors and galaxies for the required resources or sites on planets. This may require a few hyperjumps.
- Go to the Tractor Beam room and beam debris from space into your ship to collect valuable refined resources.
- Kill any intruders that enter the Tractor Beam room with the debris, and then search ship to make sure none had crawled into the maintenance corridors under the floor panels.
- Go to the Hanger and fly onto planet surfaces. Collect required resources (which is at a low limit of 5 at a time), kill aliens and collect DNA and alien abilities, and visit any sites for upgrades or resource locations.
- Head back to your ship and let your droids collect the resources, let them be refined in the refinery and plant any fauna you found. Create clones if possible to increase your crew and basically work a bit on your ship.
- Head back to the Hanger to go back to the planets for more resources, or head to the next galaxy.
Whatever routine you discover for yourself, it will be wash, rinse and repeat until you have an awesome ultimate ship or you find a habitable planet. And when you do find a planet, it is not the end. You don’t even have to start inhabiting it yet. You can ignore it and keep playing until you feel like ending it.
Another area of improvement I feel could be added is increasing the resource load limit of the harvester. Sometimes there are so many resources on a planet to harvest, that going back several times is necessary. There are two sides to the harvester, and it would be great if the harvester could be upgraded to allow collection on both sides, or even on the underbelly of the harvester.
Now let’s get to the base building aspect of the game. In order to increase the size and functionality of your ship, you need to access the ship building management screen. Here, you can select the room you want to build and select where you want to place it. At the start, you will only have access to level 1 rooms, but as you progress and you find upgrades on planet sites, you can build better versions of those rooms.
It is to be heavily emphasised that some strategy is required in the base building aspect. Just placing rooms down because they look nice there will not cut it. For instance, when you bring resources back from planets, this is the sequence of events that take place:
- Your droids collect your raw resources and take them to your Deposit room for temporary storage;
- Your droids will take a raw resource at a time to the Refinery to be refined;
- Your droids will collect the Refined Resource to the Storage room to be stored until you need it.
For this example, it is key to place your Hangar, Refinery, Deposit and Storage rooms close together, otherwise your droids will take forever to accomplish their tasks. I also usually place my Tractor Beam close to my Bridge, so that once I hyperjump I can go straight to the Beam room and start extracting resources from space debris.
There are so many ways you can build your ship though, all based on your own overall strategy. There have been times I have had to decontruct a section of rooms just so that they can be placed better. Which becomes very difficult to do at advance stages of the game when you have more than 1 floor level.
Overall, the gameplay is really the best I have come across in a while, integrating first person shooting, resource collection and base building in a way that not only works, but works wonderfully. There are some small improvements I would like to see, but as the game stands, the gameplay mechanics really need to be praised.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
The graphics from the first person point of view is absolutely stellar (excuse the pun). This is the sort of graphics you would expect from a AAA developer, and not an indie one. The rooms are polished off well, and when you stare off into space from your space ship you can see the planets in the solar system that you have access to.
What also makes it great is that you can colour your ship in three places: the exterior, the internal floors and the trimming. I really loved how they incorporated the aliens you kill into clone bodies to work for you on the ship, which is probably the best aspect of the game for me.
The first person GUI (graphical user interface) is also very friendly. Your weapon shows how much ammo you have left, your left arm brace shows you how much health you have left, and you have a nifty torch for those dark places. The left arm brace also shows you from what direction alien enemies are approaching from, which is really helpful on planets dense with foliage.
When it comes to terminals, the developers have opted for an interesting choice. The computers seem to be running on an old DOS based system, with the lettering, graphics and selections reminding me of old Pentium days. I can only imagine that this art style was intentional, when looking at how magnificent the rest of the game looks. Using this style makes everything so much easier to read, so I am rather grateful.
The ship management screen is also very helpful in terms of showing you how many resources you have, how many you need to construct a certain floor, and allowing you to change to three different views of your ship. By pressing a single button, the game connects a new room to the next available connector if you are struggling to work out where you can place it.
There are some suggestions I have that I believe can improve some of the aspects of the ship management screen and terminals, but that I will save for the developer. All in all, the graphics are enjoyable and easy to use.
I did not expect the sound to be as good as it was in the game. Sure, running and the ship can be lonely and quiet at times, and it would have been great to actually hear the aliens talking to you instead of just reading the text, but there have been some really horrific moments when it came to the sound.
Such as when I have been on a planet’s surface, and the voice in my head (uhm, the computer system) tells me there is a lifeform nearby, and I wait in dreaded anticipation. Some of the aliens really have that Alien (movie) terror to them just by their crying echoes alone. The sound does enough to make you curse and run back to the ship in dread.
Genesis Alpha One will appeal to the science fiction, space traveling gamers out there who want to explore space with every fibre of their being. By integrating first person action shooter with base building, I believe the game has found a niche that will be loved by many. While there is a sense of repetitiveness that is normal with games like these, it still leaves a fantastic game that will keep you playing into the deep hours of the morning.
Genesis Alpha One receives 9/10 for an overall score.