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Game Info:

It came from space and ate our brains
Developed By: Triangle Studios
Published By: All in! Games
Released: March 19, 2015
Available On: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Genre: Top-down Arcade Shooter
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood)
Number of Players: Singleplayer, Cooperative Multiplayer
Price: $14.99

I'd like to thank All in! Games for the review key for this game.

Neo-retro games have a high wire act to follow if they want to be successful. They need to have a retro look and feel without coming off as lazy, cheap, and dated. At the same time, they need to be fun to play. "It came from space and ate our brains," attempts to achieve both goals, more than admirably if you ask me.

The basic premise is very simple. It's a top-down, 3D arcade-style shooter where you blast aliens as you make your way through various levels, destroying the "alien egg" that keeps producing them. Wash, rinse, repeat until you've beaten all the levels. Aside from doing that and survival (the Survival Mode revolves entirely around the latter), it's not all that complicated.

You start with a basic laser pistol, and after collecting a set amount of points, you can either upgrade it to be more powerful, or you can switch to another weapon and keep upgrading from that. You have a variety of different weapons you can pick from, including a shotgun (good spread, short-range), machine gun (high fire rate, narrow spread), laser gun (fast, poor spread), plasma gun (all-around good, expensive to invest in), and a rocket launcher (high splash damage, very slow).

It came from space and ate our brains
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good atmospheric graphics and music; simple concept yet addictive in practice
Weak Points: Stiff movement controls; no in-game save and resume feature for long levels
Moral Warnings: Cartoony shooter violence against blocky looking aliens; Neon spark looking "blood" when aliens die that quickly vanishes

There are some other powerups you can collect, but you can hold only one at a time, so some strategy is required for when and how they are used. Examples include temporary fully upgraded weapons of a different type than your default (which can be useful for certain situations), turrets (which can prevent getting overwhelmed while they last), medkits (which restore your hearts in your life bar), and shields (which negate damage briefly), among others. The player also has a limited dash meter for running that recharges for situational use.

The aliens are generally lemming-like, at least early on most stages, but they gradually get smarter and more tenacious, adopting dodging tactics and appearing in greater swarms. At the end of levels, you often have to fend off hordes of them while attempting to destroy the alien egg to end the level, so adapting to their increasing intelligence is essential to beating the levels.

Graphically, the game is a clever mix of minimalistic, simplistic graphics and impressively detailed scenery. The player and enemies are blocky and simple, looking quite cartoony. By contrast, the levels are generally dark, your vision limited by the darkness that is only reduced in the range of your handheld flashlight. The lights use a lot of neon shades coupled with an almost film noir look, and the result is a spooky atmosphere that fits the alien invasion/survival theme well. Overall setting details tend to be somewhat monochrome, but this fits given the darkness mechanic and heightens the difference between the colorful characters and the haunting, shadowy buildings and objects.

The music and sound effects work in tandem with the graphics to heighten the feeling of alien survival horror. The music utilizes a lot of "ambient scare tracks" much like a sci-fi horror movie. While the aliens are cartoony by contrast, it still succeeds in keeping the tension at a high level, especially as the aliens get more aggressive. Sound effects are mostly limited to the sounds of your various weapons, which are distinct and crisp.

It came from space and ate our brains
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Controls can be either the standard keyboard/mouse type or a PC gamepad, and with both the game uses a slightly stiff turning animation, but this is a stylistic decision to imitate retro arcade controls. Since your flashlight direction is tied to what direction you turned and not paying attention can allow aliens to sneak up on you, choosing to turn to meet different threats before they get too close is essential to survival. There is a fairly intuitive in-game tutorial to get yourself acquainted with movement and control included as well.

Stability is excellent, and while this is not a super demanding title, be advised this can stress out weak computers and it's very inadvisable to use a PC that does not have dedicated graphics. Load times are acceptable and I had no crashes no matter how long I played. My only complaints are a lack of a mid-level save feature at the various level checkpoints (called "safe houses"), as some levels can be a bit long.

Morally, there isn't much to be alarmed over. Violence is limited strictly to cartoony aliens who explode in a shower of neon sparks (implied to be blood but looks like sparks) that quickly vanish, and there are no displays of strong blood and gore. Strong language, sexual content, and other crude material are not present. The setting is a soft sci-fi one, with laser guns and cartoony aliens. Morally speaking, you are presumably one of the survivors of an alien invasion, seeking simply to survive and defeat the relentless alien menace.

For the price tag, I definitely feel this is worth the money asked for it, and it can be quite fun if arcade shooters are your thing. Morally, aside from the aforementioned cartoony looking violence, there is nothing here a preteen or older couldn't handle.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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