Nearly twenty years after their first invasion, they’re back! Those colourful alien nuisances are once again beaming down from the mothership and aspiring to take over the Earth. But rather than defend the planet, Alien Hominid Invasion puts you on the offensive, which let’s face it, is much more fun.
The old-school side-scrolling shooter returns resembling an awfully familiar style to those who have played the first game. The hand drawn, cartoon style visuals still look the part, especially in 4K UHD. However, it’s clear to see Alien Hominid Invasion’s origins as a flash game coming through loud and proud. I have fond memories of playing these browser based games in my I.T. lessons at high school whilst pretending to be working. Simpler times.
One of the things I love most about Alien Hominid Invasion is its slapstick, off the wall sense of humour. This is evident in pretty much all aspects, from how the characters behave to the quirky but catchy soundtrack. It’s genuinely funny, and more than a little charming.
The aim here is pretty simple. Shoot bad guys and collect loot. Each mission is made up of several stages, randomly distributed across a grid map system. This helps add variety to each run, and culminates in raiding an enemy HQ and taking on a boss in a challenging battle. Each individual level is chosen at random too, and there are enough of them so that it will take a while for you to notice any repetition.
These aliens are pretty nimble, meaning they can jump, roll dodge and even dig underground for a short while to avoid enemy attacks. What’s particularly satisfying is the ability to ride your enemies around like a startled pony as they try to shake you off, as well as chucking them across the screen when you’re finished.
As you drop into each neighbourhood, you’ll often be accompanied by bots who prove to be very limited in their usefulness. Firstly, you’ll need to blast enemies and gather enough intelligence to send back to the mothership via a giant purple fax machine (stay with me). Then you’ll be given an objective to hit against the clock, such as delivering an item or surviving an enemy ambush. This cycle repeats a few times before the exit is unlocked. You can stick around and try to earn extra rewards, but the catch is that the threat level gradually increases as you play. This means that after a few minutes it’s absolute carnage, as more powerful reinforcements pile into the area. This doesn’t just mean more enemies, but a greater variety of them too, some of which are even clad in protective armour or protected by a shield generating robot.
It’s a good job then that your alien is tooled up to the eyeballs with gear. Alongside a main weapon, you can also equip a mutation, a couple of buffs and a charming costume that often brings with it benefits. You can also change your colour pigment, but that’s just for show.
Alien Hominid Invasion throws some strategy into the mix in the form of character stats. These are affected by your loadout choice, which you can alter after each individual level. Your gear is organised by level, and the damage per second (DPS) is displayed and automatically compared to your current build to ensure you’re dishing out as much punishment as possible.
There are plenty of weapons to find, from the everyday machine gun, to a rather wonderful blaster which rapidly fires bees. Alongside this, there are all sorts of boosts you can equip such as an increased clip size for your guns as well as the ability to steal health from enemies. Perhaps the most adorable part is the costumes which are available, that bring with them stat boosts alongside looking rather fetching too.
Alongside a main weapon, your alien can also make use of its mutation. These vary but can prove crucial to your success. I found the ability to summon a healing heart particularly useful, but it all depends on your style of play. Some of you may prefer lobbing grenades instead. You can collect loot drops as you terrorise each neighbourhood, but they can only be unlocked once you reach a hideout run by some friendly human children. Here you can swap out your build, as well as buy limited items from the nearby shop. The brief respite from the madness is most welcome.
There is also a gallery which chronicles all of your unlocks, and you can claim these for extra loot. Unfortunately there is no “collect all” button, so you’ll need to cycle through each menu and pick them up one by one.
This time around, Alien Hominid Invasion boasts online multiplayer as well as the local option. Players can drop in and out, and you can set up private games or jump into the matchmaking lobbies. It’s definitely more beneficial having human helpers, but it doesn’t make things any easier. Alien Hominid Invasion is difficult. Really difficult. You do have the choice between three levels of difficulty, however even on “Friendly”, it’s still a challenge. This is especially true when you come up against a boss. You’ll die. A lot.
That’s the thing with Alien Hominid Invasion. It depends on how much you enjoy that old-school run and gun gameplay, seen in iconic titles such as Contra and Metal Slug. Because if you don’t, there isn’t much else here for you really. Sure, there’s a bit of strategy thrown in thanks to the many items you can equip to change your loadout, but the core gameplay is all about shooting stuff and dodging bullets.
However, it’s good news for fans of the genre as Alien Hominid Invasion is one of the most enjoyable shooters I’ve played in a long time, and it’s perfect for short bursts of play on a regular basis. Despite dying time and time again (and uttering a few expletives), I kept coming back for more.
Alien Hominid Invasion is animated, anarchic and full of attitude. Sure it’s tough, but more importantly it’s an absolute blast.