Space. The final frontier. Or simply the next frontier for Team17. After a stellar 2018, which saw them publish their 100th game and win The Loot Gaming publisher of the Year Award they’ve not held back in 2019. They’ve already teamed up with German devs Radiation Blue and launched a brand new game; Genesis Alpha One. Is it going to rocket to success ala Apollo 11? Or do we have an Apollo 13 on our hands? Read on to find out!
GAO is a very odd blend of genres that, as far as I’m concerned, have never been mixed together before. Equal parts of simulation, first-person shooter and strategy all tied together in a roguelike structure. It’s a very unique premise and the good news is that each part is a success.
Every round starts the same, you pick your company, choose some crew members and launch into the infinite (not really) vacuum of space. The game will give you some guidance as you begin building your ship, ensuring you start your journey with necessities such as storage space, a greenhouse to provide atmosphere and a tractor beam to gather resources. Everything has a place and it’s up to you as the Captain of the ship, which you can even name, to take advantage of the customization and build your ship in an efficient manner.
The Normandy is yours…
For example, the Greenhouse has four different access points. This means it’s ideal to be placed near the Bridge as it allows you to expand your ship in multiple directions and take advantage of the space. Another example is the Tractor Beam, if you’re beaming up resources there’s a chance you’ll bring some alien creatures on board which can cause many problems. Keeping them away from the power sources is key, making sure there’s plenty of security points will be an advantage. The level of strategy on offer is impressive and really adds to the addictiveness of the cycle. With every attempt at ship building you’ll learn a lot, I failed a lot of early attempts due to simple issues with the layout. When I was eventually successful it was because I reacted to my mistakes and made sure to build a genuinely efficient operation. As you progress you’ll unlock more depth. This includes the ability to clone and grow your crew, the opportunity to visit planets and harvest resources, create security gates to protect your ship and even shields to protect you from space pirates.
Star Wars Episode XVII: Stardew Valley
After you build your ship you can start exploring space, the game world has been split into a handy grid that’s viewable from the bridge. You can jump from square to square and explore whatever happens to be in that particular section of space, ranging from planets to asteroids to absolute darkness. Exploring the vastness is fun, it’s always an interesting experience to see what you’ll come across next. Exploring space is very dangerous though, in certain areas, there’s a chance your ship will be boarded by enemies. In others, you might be alone but with no resources available. The best spots for harvesting will often be full to the brim of all manner of danger. As you upgrade your ship you can travel much greater distances much quicker making exploration and backtracking an absolute doddle.
You’ll build your ship and expand by gathering resources. Resources are absolutely key to every aspect of GAO. Luckily there’s a whole host of ways for you to gather these. You can use the tractor beam to get them directly from asteroids, you can send your crew to planets to gather them and then refine them into ore or you can trade with various merchants dotted around the galaxy. One of the best parts of the game is the opportunity to actually visit and explore planets and gather your own resources, ranging from plants to create a biosphere to special character upgrades. On the planets you’ll meet plenty of other species, gathering DNA from these aliens allows you to further add to your crew. Different species have different advantages and disadvantages and creating a diverse crew to fit whatever you choose your objective to be is a nice and simple extra layer of strategy.
Aliens VS Adam
There are plenty of perils in the dark of space and you’ll be facing them all. From the deadly Mechanics to the numerous alien species that populate each planet… you’ll barely get any respite. As you visit each planet you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of alien creatures, ranging from arachnids to humanoids to incredibly cool looking hologram creatures. The variety in the enemies is good, there’s a mix of those with range damage and physical, as well as big powerful creatures that’ll do high damage and little tiny monsters that will swarm you and cause all kinds of problems.
The exciting news is that the weapons you have on offer will match the variety. The FPS sections of the game were some of the most fun thanks to the simplicity of the controls, simply pressing L2 will lock you to the nearest enemy. This makes blasting through spiders with the automatic shotgun a literal blast or demolishing huge groups with a grenade launcher an incredible experience. There are turrets and energy barriers to let you build a defense as well as assault rifles, laser pistols with infinite ammo and even a flamethrower.
The most important aspect of the entire game are the roguelike elements. Without this, it would just be a rather simple jaunt through space with no purpose. The ultimate objective is to find a new planet for your crew to inhabit, and as you travel, you’ll find planets with potential and have to fulfill certain requirements to land. After you land and complete the mission successfully you can keep playing via new game plus. Even if your missions entirely fails, and it will happen many times, you can restart with some new benefits like new starting corporations with additional resources or a bigger crew. The game has a genuine hook that’ll keep you playing for hours. My first five or six hours I had an okay time, I felt like I was going through the motions and just playing with no real direction. Then the game clicked with me and the gameplay loop absolutely hooked me.
Genesis Alpha 90%
I really loved my time with Genesis Alpha One. I got invested in the gameplay and in my ship and crew. It’s a game that will directly reward you based on how much time and effort you put in and the best part is the nature of the gameplay means it’ll always be there for you to jump back into. Is it the best looking game in 2019? Nah. Is it the most accessible? Not particularly but it has a tutorial. Does it have a gripping story? Nope, but there’s some scattered lore. Does it have genuinely fun gameplay that will equally grip you and reward you? 100%. Well… 90%.