Aliens: Dark Descent, developed by Tindalos Interactive, takes a fresh approach to showcase the Alien’s universe in video games. As a real-time strategy squad-based game, it immerses players in a gripping narrative filled with tense situations and challenging decisions.
The game follows Deputy Administrator Maeko Hayes and US Colonial Marine (USCM) Officer Jonas Harper as they navigate a perilous journey on the backwater planet Lethe. When Hayes discovers the presence of Xenomorphs aboard her station, she triggers the Cerberus Protocol, trapping their ship on the planet’s surface. With the task of finding a way to alert others to their predicament and survive the Xenomorph threat, Hayes and Harper must work together to ensure the survival of their crew.
From the outset, the story of Aliens: Dark Descent captivates players. The tough decisions Hayes faces and her palpable fear and desperation make her a compelling character. As she teams up with Harper and the USCM, their initial distrust gradually evolves into a working relationship, driven by the realization of the difficult choices Hayes had to make. The dynamic between Hayes and the crew of the Otago, with each section of the ship serving a vital role, adds depth to the narrative.
The gameplay of Aliens: Dark Descent revolves around two main aspects. First, players engage in squad-based missions across Lethe’s surface and the space station. Each day, players choose a squad of four Marines to deploy on missions, with only one mission possible per day. Marines start with negative attributes that can be removed as they level up, but these attributes can affect other Marines negatively initially.
During missions, players must complete various primary and secondary objectives. While not all objectives need to be completed in a single run, spending more time on a mission allows Marines to gain more experience. Squad control is unified, with the game automatically assigning tasks such as looting or sealing doors. However, the most critical part of the missions is combatting the Xenomorphs, which pose a serious threat. Different types of Xenomorphs, including Facehuggers, Praetorians, and Alien Queens, require distinct strategies. Whether utilizing sentry guns or strategic movement, each encounter raises the squad’s stress levels, applying negative attributes that can only be resolved through therapy.
The management aspect of Aliens: Dark Descent adds depth to the gameplay experience. Recovery from missions becomes crucial, requiring players to use the medbay to treat wounded soldiers or provide therapy for those traumatized by encounters with Xenomorphs. Treating soldiers renders them unable to participate in missions, creating strategic considerations. Time is also a factor, as the alien threat grows with each passing day, increasing the difficulty of missions.
As Marines level up, they gain new perks and class roles, such as Sargeants and Teckers, enhancing their effectiveness in battle. Sargeants boost morale and fighting capabilities, while Teckers excel at hacking and bypassing threats. Selecting the right class and perks for each character becomes a challenging decision, as character death is permanent. The squad management aspect, which allows for character development and attachment, adds to the immersion. However, it would have been more engaging if the characters had a wider range of voice lines.
Visually, Aliens: Dark Descent impresses with its detailed and artistically creative environments. Each room and location adds to the sense of being trapped with the squad, intensifying the pressure of imminent Xenomorph threats. The atmospheric music further enhances the intensity, heightening the fear during combat encounters.
While Aliens: Dark Descent may have some repetitive elements in its gameplay loop, it remains an enjoyable real-time strategy squad game. It successfully draws players into the Aliens universe while providing opportunities for character development. With its immersive atmosphere and engaging storytelling, Aliens: Dark Descent is an enticing experience for fans of the franchise.
Aliens: Dark Descent is set to release on June 20th for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.