Your planet is under assault from ugly, violent invaders. Your innocent people have been killed by the score. Resistance to the host...

Attack of the Earthlings Attack of the Earthlings

Attack of the Earthlings

Attack of the Earthlings

Your planet is under assault from ugly, violent invaders. Your innocent people have been killed by the score. Resistance to the hostile aliens is the only option. Will you lead your people to victory over the evil invaders, these...humans?  That's the premise of Attack of the Earthlings, a new tongue-in-cheek tactical combat game that puts the player in command of deadly alien creatures fighting the humans  who are trying to rob a planet of its resources.

The humans are members of Galactoil, your typical evil galactic space corporation, have landed a huge drill on the surface, which carries the entire corporation within it. Starting down in the lower levels, you will fight your way all the way to the top over the course of several scenarios. At the very top is the Board Room, where all those smug executives are just waiting to get eaten by vengeful aliens. Each level gives you different tasks to accomplish, and occasionally throws some surprises at you. Early on you just need to kill off all the humans, but in some you must complete goals like defending a set location against waves of ever stronger enemies, or rescuing another alien before turning on the humans together.

Carol is looking just a bit under the weather. But certainly is not host to an alien parasite...
The heart of your force is the matriarch, a powerful creature which can kill humans, eat them, and then use the resulting biomass to spawn underlings at a frightening rate. The basic units you spawn, called grunts, can be evolved into three specialized units using more biomass. There's a sneaky backstabbing form, a big bruiser with lots of health, and a frail ranged unit.  The matriarch is powerful in combat, but losing it will immediately end your mission, so you will mostly rely on units created mid-scenario. Between levels you can spend points to upgrade the units and make them far more powerful. Some of these upgrades give direct stat boosts, while others give the unit type an entirely new ability. The better you perform in each level (winning quickly, taking few losses, among other factors), the more points you will be able to invest. Levels can be replayed for a higher score if you do poorly the first time around.

Attack of the Earthlings uses a turn-based combat system that should be familiar to fans of XCOM and the like. You get a limited number of action points for each unit each turn and can use those points to move or use abilities.  Each of the previously mentioned classes has a role to play on the battlefield, and your strategies open up as units gain more abilities. Depending on the "terrain" and your personal style, you may lean on one type of unit more than another.  For example, there are vents scattered around the levels that let units quickly move behind enemies or traverse large distances, but only the smaller classes can fit into them. On the other hand, you may be facing enemy types that punish melee attackers, so you will need to switch your ranged unit and pick them off from afar. The additional abilities you gain are key to winning the tougher fights as the game goes on. You'll soon be able to lay traps, distract enemies, and even mind-control humans to act as scouts and saboteurs. 

An important aspect of the combat is how stealth plays an important role. Enemies all have vision cones that your units must avoid to stay unnoticed. If they spot one of your creatures, the humans can react immediately and alert other nearby humans. Once alerted, guards will move their vision cone much more erratically and seek out your units. Your best course of action is to get to the flanks or behind every enemy and take them out one by one. Many of your actions, like opening doors, killing humans, or spawning new grunts generates sound. The range of the sound is visualized, so you can see if an action will draw the attention of a human. You can use this to your advantage often times, if you get creative.

The game includes some wonderful dialogue by the human characters, hitting various alien movie tropes and general humor. Since this is humor involving people being murdered and eaten by monstrous aliens, it of a decidedly dark and over the top style. Just wait until you bump into the most unfortunate turret to ever exist. Its AI was programmed to love and protect humans, but no one loaded it with ammunition. Hilarious tragedy ensues. I seriously laughed out loud at this game more than a few times.

The game is filled with wonderfully dark humor.
For those looking for a solid tactical strategy game, something like XCOM but without the global strategic layer to worry about, Attack of the Earthlings is a perfect fit. The only negatives I could come up with are the handful of bugs I ran into and the lack of much replayability. The bugs I reported and got a quick response that they are being worked on. The lack of replayability might be a bigger negative for some. The campaign contains a set number of scenarios, and once you finish them, which will maybe take ten hours or less, there isn't much left to do. There isn't a random scenario generator or anything else other than chasing a higher score. What is there is great, but you will finish it in fairly short order.

Attack of the Earthlings is available on Steam for $25.

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- Joe Beard