So, I’m a sweet little drone on one of three space freighters humanity used to escape Earth’s fiery annihilation. The aliens responsible are in pursuit, finding me in random rooms, entering through doors and cracks in the wall. I am armed with a pogo stick, one of many unlockable, offensive items I can get from the green machine, arbitrarily. At first I thought this was a joke weapon compared to the heavy artillery and nifty handguns available, but it’s actually quite useful against tough enemies, in a downwards kind of a way.
Mastering an endless procession of weapons and understanding how everything works is key to survival, because I have to be able to quickly adapt to a range of contexts. Trying to shoot tiny flying creatures with a precision rifle is challenging, especially if I can simply lob a grenade from the red machine in their general direction and take them all out in one hit. Alternatively, when being charged by a muscular green thing, some kind of rocket launcher is more helpful than emptying the entire clip of a more basic weapon.
Indeed, it’s the slow stream of unlocks that keeps me playing. I can be awful at the game and still get new toys incrementally. Game modes are added via progression, with levels randomly requiring survival or task completion, like carrying fuel to a drop point (while also surviving). Carefully consider other elements to play, like whether to turn off the death windmills, as they will deal damage to everyone. Further, hit-points carry across four levels and preparing for the fourth is paramount, you’ll see.
Any given level may be comprised of a range of mechanical item dispensers, like weapons caches, medical stations, and explosives depos, with cooldown timers after use. Sometimes, there may be no way to get new weapons, but an off-hand item can generally be equipped. I particularly like being able to fling the Pulse Chakras at aliens, but if it doesn’t bounce back, it will require retrieval. The game unfolds rapidly and taking damage in pursuit of what I needed quickly became part of my strategy.
Further, if I want to stay alive, it’s important not to stop to appreciate the artwork. To the backdrop of gentle space, the fluorescent mayhem happens inside an intricate, industrious, and very purple, structure. Or, in another galaxy, green. I’ve been watching people play this at Sydney’s Beer and Pixels for more than a year and I just love how it looks. The effort seems wasted, somehow. Gaze at its beauty and die. At least I can rock out to alien-smooshing, chiptuney-dubstep without getting too distracted.
At this point, I would like to tell you that there’s hope for humanity. I’m trying my best to save us, I really am, but I’m still only in the second galaxy, of three. And, come to think of it, I haven’t actually seen a human, yet. That’s a worry. Super Mutant Alien Assault explores a few simple concepts and mechanics to their full potential. It’s quite possible, after playing for a bit longer, I’ll unlock that special weapon that will take me to the end of the game, something even more powerful than the pogo stick, and probably twice as ridiculous.