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Review: Alienation is a relentless top-down shooter

Fri, 29th Apr 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Alienation is a new top-down shooter for the PS4 made by Housemarque. The game is just as hard as the developer's previous outings. Housemarque has made other twin-stick shooters in the past giving us the likes of Super Stardust HD and Dead Nation over the years. Alienation is slightly different, but the one thing that hasn't been changed from this developer's repertoire is the difficulty. All of its games are no walk in the park to complete.  On the surface, Alienation may look like any other twin-stick shooter since you move by rotating the left stick while moving the right stick aims to where you want to shoot. Constant moving and aiming is the key to survival because staying in one place will get you killed instantly.  The thing that makes this game so difficult is the amount of enemies that are thrown at you all at once. Dozens upon dozens approach you from all sides and you have no time to take a break. Not to mention you need to constantly reload all of the time which can get annoying when enemies are rushing towards you.  To somewhat help out casual gamers, there are difficulty settings that you can choose from. The harder difficulties allow you to grab more rare loot, while the easiest setting makes the enemies faster to kill. However, I played the game by myself and I struggled to play it on any difficulty setting.   Housemarque purposely made the game hard to persuade people to play online, and that's what I had to do. The matchmaking system is quite simple because you can select missions on the main menu. If you see anyone that needs help, you can simply join in and play with them. Playing cooperatively online is the best way to play the game as you need others supporting you in this game. The game is still relentless, but it's more bearable than trying to go solo. It's also worth mentioning other players can be different classes so one can focus on healing while another can concentrate on shooting.  The thing that makes co-op gameplay disappointing is that it's only available online. There's no local split-screen co-op whatsoever and I'm not sure why Housemarque left this out. Last year's Helldivers had local co-op and that game looks and plays very similarly to Alienation.  Speaking of Helldivers, Alienation is kind of the exact same game but with some changes here and there. For starters, Alienation is a bit more forgiving because you can respawn as many times as you want in a level and you won't get punished for it. Helldivers was less generous as you had only two lives and if you died, you had to do the level all over again.  Gameplay wise, Alienation is fun although it can get repetitive. Most of the missions have you going to one location and just shooting your way to victory all of the time until you call on a helicopter for an extraction. It's okay to play for the first few hours, but the missions start to feel too similar after a while.  Alienation as a whole is a very decent and fun twin-stick shooter for the PS4. To get the most fun out of this game. it's best to play it alongside some online friends. The game is not perfect though as the lack of local co-op is very disappointing and others may find it too hard to play. Other than that, fans of Helldivers and other shooters like that will love it.  Verdict: 8.0/10

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