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February 05, 2019

Genesis Alpha One - Review

In the modern gaming landscape, there are very few games where, if they offer up a plethora of genres, that I look at, but was Genesis Alpha One, with its mixing pot of gameplay offerings, enough to sway me.


The game has a simple premise, you are the leader of a group of people that blasted off into space, in search of a new viable home for the people of earth, as the planet can no longer sustain life as we know it. The ship has arrived in the star system where we believe planets to be, but now it is up to you, to search them, whilst building up a ship and keeping the crew alive. The game is part first person exploration, part rogue-like, part Sims and to finish off, a little sense of horror and dread, but everything blends together that it ends up feeling like one massive game and that is a good thing.


A very important point of note before I continue any further, the beginning of the game, from the tutorial, which I highly suggest you play and on to at least your second attempt, is slow going. The tutorial will explain almost everything that you need to know, but your first actual attempt at completing the mission will have you fail, there are so many little parts to manage, all at the same time and when something goes wrong, it just increases the number of things you need to juggle. The most crucial part of the game is the building and maintaining of the ship, which has a few basic modules at the outset, but then is up to you to add more.

The earlier pieces you have to place are things like Crew Quarters, Greenhouse, Tractor Beam and storage units, but once they are done, you need to start managing them, but also expanding the ship. Expanding is done by adding more modules, the only ones you will repeat from the initial four, with storage and crew quarters, but you can start adding on more modules, like the refinery. That module allows you to get the most out of your materials that the tractor beam collects from the planet you are near, which in turn allows you to build more modules faster. While your ship will start out at a single level, you will eventually need to build up or down, something that space allows you with freedom.


Once you have your basic ship layout settled, you can then start to look for the planet that will support life, but how you do that, is also up to you. Venturing down to a planet, is a very risky move, depending on how you are equipped, my first landing on a planet, was a very tense adventure, not only was I unable to see more than a few meters from around the ship. Whilst I had a gun, the main purpose of this journey to the surface was to obtain new materials, so scanning items, to acquire minerals was what I needed to do, but the catch was the creatures native to the planet did not like us there. Every few seconds, you would hear a strange noise off in the distance, but it was when the ship would let me know that something was detected, I got a bunch of materials and then hightailed it back to the ship and the safety of space.


However, it turns out space was nowhere near as safe as I had envisioned, not only were their issues with my ship, an entire corridor blew out into space, but the tractor beam had also pulled up something alive from the planet. Whilst I had a turret in the room, to protect the crew member working there and while the creature was taken out, it did leave me wondering how much I need to do in order to protect my ship. I left things alone for a bit and got some resources built up and built up a weapons module, which gave my crew more firepower, so a few more turrets in the tractor beam room and I was confident that things were looking up again, but this is where I made a change that killed me.

Deciding that I needed to venture out more, even though I had barely any time into my game, I hit up the bridge, accessed the map and selected a new location, arriving there was easy enough, however the enemies that were around, did not like my showing up in the middle of their space and promptly destroyed me. Determined to survive and complete the mission, I jumped back in, this time, staying put for far longer and exploring the planet I spawned near, this seemed to be a solid plan. While the first planet I found was covered in a gas, that made it hard to see anything and the second planet that I found was more barren and desert like which in turn let me with very little life but lots and lots of resources. The wealth of resource is that I was uncovering meant I spent a lot of time upgrading the ship adding modules, cloning new crew members and doing all that I could to bring things up to a sustainable level.


With the barren planet seemingly tapped of resources, I knew I had to venture to a new location, so back into captains area I load it up the map and scanned for a new location. After finding what seemed to be a suitable planet, I ventured there found that it was abundant with resources and just right for exploring but there was a slight problem there were a lot of alien creatures on this particular planet. Up to this point I had not spent a lot of time in combat myself there was very little reason for me to try because I was so focused on ship management, however I quickly found myself overwhelmed and dead, so it was back to the proverbial drawing board again. This time I managed to spawn there a planet had a good amount of resources and some life forms that were a challenge but not overwhelmingly so, thankfully I was able to defeat a number of them with only taking your future to myself which had awarded me with biomass which is the resource you need in order to create more clones. Once I had enough biomass and other resources it was back up to the ship upgrades it expanded and then add more cones to the crew roster.

Once I had a significant amount of Clones available to me I assign them to various tasks and let them deal with the main things leaving me more time to explore again heading back down to the same planet I was able to venture off a decent way away from my landing craft, and I found something no I won't spoil what it is but if you've seen the movie aliens unless you say with egg shaped and leave it there. As it's my third time through the more you play the more options you unlock through research, so each time I restarted, I have more skills in options available to me including affiliations with corporations, different corporations provide different boosts which help you when you're starting out and then later on I never really got to later on though because I kept dying and having to start over. Combining Resource Management, ship management, first person exploration, Gunplay, crew management and a few other things, Genesis Alpha One really does work.


It probably is a good time that you spend a lot of time in Space so no one can hear your screams of frustration, the game has a number of niggling little issues that will frustrate you, now they are not game breaking, but they are mood breaking. Trying to navigate the ship menus with a controller is more awkward than it needed to be, using a combination of D-pad and thumb stick along with triggers and face buttons just adds a lot more complexity to what could have been a very simple system. I also ran into an issue a few times where information screens didn't show up the way they were supposed to, they would have actually load but it felt more like textures just hadn't loaded up, something I honestly wasn't expecting. Perhaps the biggest issue with the game, stems from its roguelike element, having to restart a ship over and over, gathering resources again and again, and especially in such a short time for a review, made me start feeling like this was a chore, that the fun of exploring an unknown portion of space was becoming more like filling out a checklist. It is easier to imagine, that if you were only playing one attempt and if you died you waited a while before starting again that the pacing would feel fresh and different enough to avoid that, but I can't really think of any game where I've had to imagine playing it that way before.


When it comes to Visual presentation the game has a slick look but at times it feels bland, the Clones being clones means that they have a very basic look which is fine for aesthetic choice, but if you're running around the ship trying to find a particular one come all looking the same makes that a little harder. There were times they win the game looks incredible some of the planets while generic in their overall theme are presented in a way it just invites you in, and some of the secrets even more so. If you are unfortunate enough to have aliens make their way aboard your ship the tight corridors combined with turrets and your own guns, really am sup intensity with light reflections, screeches and more all bouncing around the tight spaces. When it comes to building your ship crafting those corridors Tacking on Crew quarters to The Greenhouse and all the other little bits and pieces, you won't be thinking about an alien stronghold being crafted in your tractor beam room, thanks for the simple presentation of the shipbuilding interface. When you're in this blueprint mode, you really get a sense of how big your ship will be and at the same time it never looks as big as it can be when you're walking it, it does work really well and I'm happy with it.


The other half of the presentation is the audio and again there is very little wrong with it there are moments when you’re in your ship is running back and forth where you can hear other mechanical sounds, steam escaping from a pipe somebody dropping metal onto the floor, the sounds like that carry. When aliens do Invader ship, the alert noise Echoes throughout the ship your radar will light up, the constant beeping of their radar along with unknown sounds all combine to ramp up that tense atmosphere. Even landing down on the surface of a planet or using your hyperdrive to blast to another Quadrant of the Galaxy, the sounds have a grounded feel to them that if in my lifetime space travel becomes possible this is likely what it would sound like.


Genesis Alpha One is a game that is easy to recommend if you like any single part of the genres that make it up, with so much to do and many ways in which to approach there is a lot to discover and enjoy here. The repetitive nature thank to the roguelike elements will damper the spirits of anyone who consistently restarts when they die and that does suck some of the fun away, but taking that break and making sure you're ready to re-enter the world means that each time you enter you could experience a whole new Galaxy of adventures and it is with that thought that the game really shines.



Review copy provided by Team17

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