PC Games Aliens Dark Descent

Published on June 21st, 2023 | by Ali Arkani

Aliens Dark Descent Review

Aliens Dark Descent Review Ali Arkani

Summary: I believe the best way to describe this game would be a survival horror isometric tactical shooter in the Alien universe. Aliens Dark Descent perfectly establishes its own rules and stays true to the Alien franchise and what made it one of the greatest modern sci-fi works: the heart-wrenching fear of the unknown and the thrill of fighting against all odds.


A True Alien Experience

Aliens Dark Descent is a squad-based tactical real-time strategy title from Tindalos Interactive that brings new hope to the Alien gaming franchise after the recent failures. With a completely original story and intense gameplay, this strange title sets new bars for any future video game adaptation of a cinematic franchise.

Jonas Harper is a high-ranking USCM administrator that is forced to take a difficult decision when she finds herself in the middle of a Xenomorph infestation on her ship. After crash landing on the nearby planet, she joins a team of marines to find out the cause of the infestation. The direction of the game cutscenes -especially the game’s opening- and how they unveil the mysteries and plot twists are so fascinating that it feels like James Cameron himself is sitting at the helm. After the recent Alien/Predator games in the last couple of years, I almost forgot the dramatic potential this universe had. But Aliens Dark Descent breathes new life into the IP with its compelling narrative and thrilling direction.

Aliens Dark Descent

As an administrator, Harper provides remote support and supervision to the marine squad and that is how the player interaction with the game is so organically implemented. The squad is comprised of four marines that are deployed to different locations to carry out missions. The squad faces different threats such as xenomorphs and rogue Synths and the players must use different strategies to get the job done and extract the marines under their command alive.

Players can customize the squad members before each deployment and equip them with different weapons and tools. The tools and weapons provide different abilities and tactical advantages during the mission. Though the marines can’t be controlled manually and work as a single unit, the game intelligently uses the person best suited for the execution of the player orders based on the weapons and equipment in their possession. For example, when ordered to provide suppressing fire, the marine with the Smartgun is automatically assigned to the task. unfrotunately, when it comes to signaling what is happening on the screen, the squad is not so intelligent and often falsely reports being spotted by the enemy or even calling the canon name for the new xenomorph species that they just encounter.

Fighting xenos is not an easy task. Thanks to the excellent AI of the game, xenomorphs in Aliens Dark Descent are as frightening and intelligent as we could remember them from the original movies. They can coordinate attacks and surround the player, shredding through the squad like a pack of wolves through a flock of sheep. If there is a way for the Aliens to close in on the player without taking damage, the creatures will try to do that. But if the player is surrounded by sentry guns or fire barrels, the xenomorphs will go suicidal and crawl through fire and waves of bullets to reach the squad.

Aliens Dark Descent

These cunning creatures can also set ambushes for the squad and jump out of vents to abduct or kill the marines. Facehugger eggs and hibernating drones also force the squad to take another route or resort back to stealth. The more the squad fights the xenomorphs or remains on the level, the more aggressive the xenomorphs get. With the increase in xenomorph aggression, more creatures start to roam the world and the hive starts an onslaught to actively hunt down the marines.

The marines also build up stress as they engage in combat which if reached to certain levels, will result in debuffs such as decreased accuracy. The resources such as ammo and medkits are also limited and should be scavenged during the mission which makes the fight or flight decision in the game even more impactful. The atmospheric level design of Aliens Dark Descent also adds to its survival-horror feeling. The beeping of the iconic motion tracker and the sound of xenomorph goo trampled under the feet of the soldiers along with dark and tight corridors of Weyland-Yutani compounds is the most genuine Alien experience in video games since Alien: Isolation.

Even though with progression, more powerful weapons and tools are available and the marines can be leveled up to have special skills and classes such as gunner or medics, new species of xenomorphs are also added to the missions, keeping the difficulty of the game balanced and forcing the players to actively seek new tools and tactics. Due to the said difficulty level, the variety of tools, weapons, and marine skills have a meaningful impact on the gameplay.

Aliens Dark Descent

Having a marine that has the Smart-Ass skill provides the ability to hack doors and open shortcuts in life-or-death situations where the squad is being hunted by a swarm of xenomorphs. Having a flamethrower around allows for creating firewalls that force the xenos to retreat and find another route to the squad.  To that end, the players must collect resources and research materials to unlock new weapons, tools, and tech which truly encourages exploration in Aliens Dark Descent’s missions.

Extracting marines from the battlefield alive is not the end of the challenges. Aliens Dark Descent has a well thought gameplay loop. Even if your soldiers are in perfect physical condition, they are still mentally traumatized by the horrors they have witnessed during the missions. That is why they need to rest, go through medical or psychiatric treatment, or even in some extreme cases, be disposed of after the missions. This R&R phase after each mission is really important because of the stress mechanism mentioned before. Consequently, the players need to have multiple squads of marines trained and battle-ready and can’t just rely on one. This life-like troops management adds more immersion to the game and creates some sort of emotional connection to the squad members, making the game’s permadeath feature hit hard.

Aliens Dark Descent does not follow the traditional genre guidelines. The devs call it a real-time strategy game but it does not provide the fine-tuned tactical control and planning of most RTS titles. I believe the best way to describe it would be a survival horror isometric tactical shooter in the Alien universe. This is not just an XCOM clone. Aliens Dark Descent perfectly establishes its own rules and stays true to the Alien franchise and what made it one of the greatest modern sci-fi works: the heart-wrenching fear of the unknown and the thrill of fighting against all odds.

About the Author


Back to Top ↑