Aliens: Infestation is much like the xenomorph creatures that populate the game's world: fast, unnerving, and utterly ruthless. It is not a game for the faint of heart. This 2D side-scroller harks back to the golden age of 16-bit games like Metroid and Castlevania, in which there was no hand to guide you, no forgiving checkpoint system, and no regenerating health. It's just you and the aliens, locked in battle through tight corridors and unlit rooms where only one can emerge the victor; the other becomes a pile of blood and guts strewn across the bulkhead. It's a game that demands great patience and skill, but rewards you with exciting combat, intelligently designed levels, and a reverent use of the Aliens licence that fills every moment with nail-biting terror.
6346283If a guy goes down clutching his chest in the Aliens universe, chances are it's not a heart attack.
The setting for your terror-filled journey is the Sulaco--the same ship whose fateful journey is chronicled in the film Aliens--as well as some short stints on the alien homeworld of LV-426. You take control of a team of four marines who must investigate disturbances aboard the Sulaco, initially thought to be the work of an enemy faction armed with combat droids. Of course, the droids are just the tip of the iceberg. As you delve deeper into the ship, it soon becomes clear there's something more sinister at work. Hints about what might be happening, your objectives, and references to "The Company" are dropped via messages from your commanding officer, while the dark, moody corridors you explore spring surprises on you, such as falling debris and cats that drop from vents. They might be cheap jump scares, but they do a great job of keeping you just enough on edge to find the inevitable Alien reveal and its tasty human snack a shock.
Once you discover the first alien, things get challenging quickly. The creatures move fast, clinging onto walls and ceilings and springing from underneath the floor. While your trusty pulse rifle can take them down, it takes quite a few rounds to do so, meaning that you spend a lot of time running for your life in the early stages of the game. This isn't always easy. Your marine has a stamina bar, which controls how much he or she can run or use other dodging moves such as jumping and rolling, making for some extremely tense situations. Lifts and doorways become lifelines to safety, and there's a huge feeling of relief as you make it to one with just a whisper of stamina left.
You gain more-powerful weapons such as shotguns and flamethrowers as you progress, and an upgrade system lets you power up your weapons to make fights easier. However, finding them requires a lot of legwork. They're located in hidden vents and rooms, many of which are inaccessible to you until you find an access card, gain new abilities, or find a new weapon that lets you blast your way through. As in the Metroid series, there's a lot of backtracking required to open up areas that were previously inaccessible, and this makes up the vast majority of your objectives. A map on the bottom screen allows you to keep track of your progress through the maze of corridors, with different colours marking out places you've already visited, as well as the location of your current objective.