Aliens Dark Descent Review: An Intense and Fun Battle for Survival
When it comes to the “Aliens” franchise, it’s always been about the adrenaline-fueled dance of death between humans and xenomorphs in the cold expanse of space. In this dark symphony, “Aliens: Dark Descent” by Tindalos Interactive takes center stage, orchestrating a tactical masterpiece that expertly straddles the line between nerve-wracking tension and strategic precision. With every corridor turned into a deadly ambush point and every shadow a potential harbinger of doom, the game plunges players into the heart of a xenomorph-infested nightmare where every decision has weight, and every bullet counts.
True to the franchise’s ethos, “Aliens: Dark Descent” crafts a survival experience with squad-based tactics, stealth maneuvering, intense firefights, and clever resource management. Players start as Maeko Hayes, an administrative officer, plunged into a scenario straight out of the deepest realms of cosmic horror. With xenomorphs overrunning her space station, a quick intervention from the Otago’s Colonial Marines sets the tone for a heart-pounding rescue, escape, and ultimately, a fight for survival.
The game’s narrative is brilliantly told through the squad of four marines under the player’s control, injecting a human element into the dire circumstances. The game seamlessly blends story and gameplay, with the player’s tactical choices and interactions dictating the course of their journey. The tactical menu is a masterstroke, slowing time to a crawl and giving players a chance to consider their next move in the face of an oncoming xeno onslaught… or if you need more hand-holding, it can be set to pause when selecting options. This mechanic, along with the realistic stress and trauma system, crafts an atmosphere of tension that is palpable and engaging.
However, it’s not all about brute force. “Aliens: Dark Descent” strongly emphasizes strategy and caution. One must think of alternate ways to achieve objectives, as direct confrontations often lead to escalating threats and stress levels, further complicating the gameplay. This balancing act creates a heightened level of immersion, elevating it beyond many of its genre contemporaries.
Visually, the game does an admirable job of recreating the gritty, industrial aesthetic of the “Aliens” movies. While there are moments where the level of detail seems lacking, especially during the cutscenes, the overall presentation is commendable. Sound design is a highlight here, with the haunting ping of the motion tracker and the ambient sounds adding significantly to the atmosphere.
When stacked against other “Aliens” games, “Dark Descent” manages to carve out its niche by focusing on the strategic and tactical aspects, rather than solely on the action and horror. The stress mechanic is a brilliant addition that constantly has players on their toes, making every victory feel earned and every loss, devastating.
However, not everything is perfect in this alien paradise. Some aspects of voice acting occasionally feel overdone, and the narrative, while engaging, could have benefitted from a few more unexpected twists. Despite these minor shortcomings, the overall package is nothing short of impressive.
“Aliens: Dark Descent” captures the essence of the franchise in a way few games have managed to. The tactical approach, the innovative stress mechanic, and the absorbing storyline make it a must-play for any fan of the series or tactical games in general. It’s a descent into darkness that will challenge and thrill you in equal measure. Plus that main menu animation cannot be beat!
RATING: 4.0 out of 5
Aliens: Dark Descent is available for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.