Developer Tindalos Interactive and publisher Focus Entertainment are aiming to blend horror and real-time strategy in their newest title. Aliens: Dark Descent looks to take the iconic film franchise back to gaming while returning to its horror roots. Now, we’re closer than ever for the terror to take hold as it launches next month.
Here is everything we know about Aliens: Dark Descent.
Mean Green Fighting Machine
As a real-time strategy game, Aliens: Dark Descent follows the fundamentals. Players command their squad, using keyboard and mouse to navigate the environment and engage hostile forces. The goal is to complete various objectives, survive the xenomorph infestation, and get to safety Within the context of Aliens everything is dialed up to eleven to create a frightening atmosphere.
This is not the first time the Colonial Marines were in a real-time strategy game. Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction took the established ebb and flow of AVP into a real-time strategy game. The game didn’t have base management but focused squarely on combat. While not the greatest RTS, the game was still very well-received on a gameplay and technical level. Aliens: Dark Descent shares some of that DNA.
Get On the Ready Line
The Marines are trapped on Lethe. Weapons and health are valuable resources that are scattered about the mission area. With the xenomorphs having damaged parts of the installation, much of the base is obscured in the fog of war. Previous resources can be gathered but may run the risk of being ambushed by xenomorphs. The marines are armed to the teeth with the latest firepower from the infamous M4A1 pulse rifle to the classic smartgun. It is paramount that confrontation is avoided at all cost, though it will be inevitable. These creatures are masters at surprise.
Each mission has its primary and secondary objectives. Primary objectives are central to the game’s story, such as reactivating certain systems or obtain valuable items. The marines may come across other observations which may initiate secondary objectives. These secondary objectives ae useful for uncovering more of the story and character intentions but also can yield reward. Moreover, shortcuts can be revealed for tactical advantages. During my demo, I came across information about a scientist one of the Marines knew, and such, a secondary objective was activated to find out what happened.
Another Day in the Corps
As the missions go along, the marines will comment to themselves and each other. Some will crack a wise joke. Others observe their surroundings, some trembling their words. Their vitals and mental health status are observed which changes drastically depending on what is happening. Naturally, encountering something horrifying elevates both mental and physical conditions.
During my preview, I did inevitably come across the secondary objective and discovered the body of the deceased scientist. The marine is momentarily distraught. She is sad at the passing of her friend and the good they shared but angry at his untimely passing. Surprisingly, the objective wasn’t complete. It encouraged further observation and it was revealed that the scientist was not killed by a xenomorph but strangled. The marine on-point even says “ If it’s worth anything, he was strangled. Not killed by the bugs.” It’s an odd statement to make as an innocent life was lost at the hands of a potential conspiracy but wasn’t taken horribly by the xenomorphs.
Feels like the Tropics
Every moment is an intoxication of tension. I could almost feel the sweat dripping from the anxiety. Every footstep felt like an inch towards something darker and more sinister. The radar would occasionally blip with something moving, only to fade away. Walking through the depths of Alien Dark Descent was filled with a sharp sense of unpredictability. At any moment, a xenomorph could appear. One xenomorph becomes five and could soon become hundreds. Aliens: Dark Descent brings about a sense of vulnerability. Your team is trained and cutting-edge but it is every bit as vulnerable to the xenomorph.
Every moment spent on mission is another moment that inches towards danger. Shooting a lone drone xenomorph may not seem like a challenge, but the Hive responds to the sound of gunfire and the screeching of a fallen comrade. Every moment raises an alert level and the alert level can stay dormant only or so long. Similar to Grand Theft Auto, there is an alert level. Once an alert level is achieved, the Hive begins an attack swarm. The initial swarm is manageable, with a mix of drone and warrior xenomorphs attempting to locate and attack the team. However, the more damage to the swarm is caused the higher the danger as the Hive considers your team an ever larger threat.
To combat the xenomorphs, it takes more than cutting edge firepower. Just like the movies, players can find areas to make a defensive stand or hide. Doors can be welded, though that costs resources. Understanding the lay of the level, and what kind of room can be used as a reasonable line of defense are imperative to survival. These moments allow for defensive positions to be taken and for the deployment of sentry guns. Aliens: Dark Descent proves that a good offense is a great defense.
The xenomorphs are some of the most terrifying they have been in a game. During a swarm, the screen is animated with a flurry fast-moving silhouettes that become numerous b the moment. It’s overwhelming and frantic as the swarm can wipe to a team in mere moments. During this swarm, other xenomorphs will appear, including larger ones that will abduct members of your team to expand the hive. Those marines are gone and no reinforcements are coming. Should a member of the team get hurt, they can be helped but only with a med kit, which are naturally hard to find.
We’re not leaving!
Aliens: Dark Descent marks another return to its horror roots while combining that with the banter and heavy firepower of the Colonial Marines. As a real-time strategy game, players command a team of Colonial Marines as they investigate happenings on the planet Lethe. With a new story set within the Alien universe, there is plenty to be excited but also something to beware. The nightmare stays with the marines. In Aliens: Dark Descent, mental health is a vicious challenge.
We are big fans of the original movie and wanted to put a focus on the horror elements when it came to development. Your marines encounter horrible things during their mission. The enemy is terrifying but they will also be exposed to environmental shocks like dead bodies or seeing their comrades get wounded. Medication can help reduce the symptoms but the conditions can carry over from mission to mission.Tindalos Interactive
Not Bad For A Human
A video game handling mental health isn’t easy but an Aliens game tackling the subject is a profound statement to make. It takes a careful understanding of the subject, as wella s a proper application to the context of the game as well as the source material. There have been bad examples of mental health in video games, such as Sigma in Overwatch. Having played a demo for the game myself, one cannot help but be remarked out how well it was handled.
A big mechanic to Aliens: Dark Descent is the sanity system. Colonial Marines are battle hardened but all it takes is a bad operation for an entire mental breakdown to take place. Audiences remember Hudson’s classic and overly dramatic breakdown following the failed operation at Sublevel B3 in the movie. Hudson goes from an overconfident Marine with a fresh mouth to sheer worry. His “Game Over, Man!” moment was not simply a memorable dialogue but a Marine who just witnessed a vicious enemy wipe out most of his squad. He does calm down at times but quickly goes back to his breakdown state.
In Aliens: Dark Descent, such a thing can happen and this can affect various behaviors to the team. They may act erratically, refuse directions, or find themselves unable to fight. These conditions can last between missions. While there is treatment during and between missions, sanity is aa remarkable but unpredictable mechanic that could make missions far more challenging than expected.
Aliens: Dark Descent certainly much going for it, but one of the biggest challenges it will have to face is to move away from the fallout of gaming disaster form ten years. Ago. Ten years ago, the video game world gave witness to one of the biggest failures in video games. after five eyars of announcements, teases, and development hell, first-person shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines was released and was not the experience that was advertised. Broken, buggy, and devoid of enjoyment, the game caused significant damage to the Alien franchise.
Game over, Man
The game’s release was remarkable in its blunders. A nonsensical story is at the focus of a broken gameplay arc and marred level design. It was far and away was was advertised, leading to a lawsuit against Sega Several studios were shut down and the reputation of the Aliens franchise took a massive beating. Alien: Isolation and 2021’s Aliens: Fireteam Elite helped bring the brand back to relevancy but the effects of failure still linger. With everything Aliens: Dark Descent is going for, it’s safe to say tha the game stands a real good chance at being a big bright spot to the Alien franchise.
There is much that we know but so much more that we don’t know about Aliens: Dark Descent. Naturally, this is fitting as revealing to much spoils the mystery. The trailer teases a tale of corporate conspiracy and mad science as a new hybrid between human, alien, and machine ahs been teased. The overall story is a mystery and there could be plenty of other unknown surprises with Weyland-Yutani on Lethe.
A mystery in the depths of space
The nature of the missions remain unknown as well. The trailer teases a large installation but also a crashed ship and various other locations. It’s safe to say this RTS is going to uncharted areas in the Alien franchise which makes for the potential for incredible moments in gameplay. What kinds of new levels and shortcuts remain to be seen. Perhaps new weapons can be wielded as well. As the xenomorph is a bio-weapon, the enemy is bound to take different shape and wield new abilities.
There is much to be excited about with Aliens: Dark Descent. The presentation is on point and the focus on real-time strategy adds a sense of vulnerability the likes of which I haven’t seen in a game. This looks to be another immersive and horrifying chapter in the dark Aliens universe and a strong way to continue a beloved sci-fi property. It’s been a challenging decade for the brand but all that has is space dust blowing in the past.
Aliens: Dark Descent launches next month!
Aliens: Dark Descent is developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment. It launches for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC on June 20, 2023.
Are you excited for Aliens: Dark Descent? As always, let us know what you think in the comments!