Alien Scumbags (PC) Review

Alien Scumbags Review: Die, Alien Scum!

 

Alien Scumbags does what it can to bring some humor and satire to the side-scrolling shooter field, playing like Commander Keen and having an atmosphere like a cross between Halo and Duke Nukem. With a plethora of pop culture references and old-school graphics to spice up the simple shooting action, the game does not attempt to hide what it is: A crude and crass, alien-blasting gorefest that wears its inspiration proudly on its sleeve.

 

Rip and Tear

 

Sadly, no BFG in sight.

 

The gameplay boils down to a simple 2D shooter system. You can pick up health and ammo, store one spare health pack, and get the occasional new gun to play with. There are some lockers that you can hide in as well. You get points based on completed objectives at the end of every level and can use those points as an extra life should you die during a mission. The gunplay is a bit barebones, only giving you the ability to aim up, left, and right, making aiming for your kills difficult. As unrefined as it is, it benefits from not overcomplicating itself, giving you decent ammo and weapon variety to run with throughout the levels. The enemies can be bullet-spongy toward later levels, but if ammo is kept up on, the extra weapons can carry you most of the way. It’s best to keep in mind that there’s not much in the way of tutorials, and the weapons should be played around with a bit to figure out their mechanics. I was a bit disappointed that I saw no chainsaw or melee weapons in general, but it’s not a major loss.

Graphics boil down to an old-school, pixellated style that sometimes makes it tricky to distinguish what some things were, especially when things get gory. This was clearly an effort to imitate the visuals from the DOS era from which Alien Scumbags takes its inspiration. I personally feel the low graphical fidelity is totally warranted. Background details were plentiful and interesting, always giving something for the eye to gravitate towards. It was almost always easy to tell what the enemies were, which was vital for part of the game’s charm, since almost every enemy is a reference to anything from games to movies. While I would’ve loved to see a bit more graphic fidelity in the enemy designs, it did what it needed to, the same going for the player character models. The soundtrack was catchy and exceeded my expectations, though speeding up the track at low health tended to make it hard to listen to. That said, the special effects were lackluster and could use some touching up.

 

Send Me Out With A Bang

 

This was a triumph.

 

The main reason to come here is for the atmosphere, rather than the characters or story. There’s not much in the way of story or background characters, any auxiliary information being conveyed through data terminals and collectible audio recordings. When you start the game, you’ll be investigating the research shuttle Nostrami that’s been silent for the past two days. An alien infection had something to do with that, so you, the Master Chef, are sent in to be the space marine that’ll save the day.

While the story’s sparse, there’s plenty to see in terms of references, the game’s bread and butter. From the main character spouting Duke Nukem-esque one-liners to finding anything from cake next to a portal, to a giant Pokeball filled with face-eating creatures dressed in Pikachu onesies, the dedication here to its references is stellar and helps sell the game on their own. It was worth replaying the campaign just to see if there are any hidden references I hadn’t seen yet. As for player characters, you can choose to play as anyone from Isaac Clarke to The Flash, all with neat abilities tailored to their characters. There’s almost always something to get a chuckle about, and that’s probably the game’s biggest strength.

 

Conclusion

 

Game over, man! Game over!

If you’re in the mood for a few good laughs and some great gore, Alien Scumbags has everything you’re looking for. While simplistic and occasionally exhausting, the combat still provides a fine challenge and plenty of rewards for exploring during your alien slaughter. Add to that the staggering amount of references found throughout the campaign, and it’s clear this was a project born of passion and dedication. As long as you don’t go in expecting a revolutionary gameplay experience, you’ll find little not to love about Alien Scumbags.


Final Verdict 4/5

 

 

Available on: Steam (Reviewed); Publisher: Monster Finger Games; Developer: Monster Finger Games; Number of players: single-player (campaign); Released: August 19, 2021; MSRP: $8.99

Full disclosure: The developer provided a  review copy.

Cory Clark
With a passion for all things musical, a taste for anti-gravity racing, and a love for all things gacha, Cory is a joyful and friendly gamer soaking up any little gem to come to his little Midwestern cornfield. An avid collector of limited editions with an arsenal of imported gaming trinkets he's absorbed into his wardrobe, he's usually always near his trusty gaming rig if he's not on his PS4 or Xbox One. And when he's not gaming, he's watching anime off his big screen with his lap lion Stella purring away.

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