[PlayStation 5] Aliens: Dark Descent Review

by EdEN, Owner

Aliens: Dark Descent from Focus Entertainment and Tindalos Interactive offers a single-player strategic, real-time, squad-based tactical action game on PS5. Check our Aliens: Dark Descent review!

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Aliens: Dark Descent from Focus Entertainment and Tindalos Interactive offers a single-player strategic, real-time, squad-based tactical action game on PlayStation 5. Your task will be to take a hardened and experienced squad of Colonial Marines who must stop a Xenomorph outbreak on Lethe. If it was you against the Xenomorphs, it might have been a doable endeavor right from the start. Unfortunately, there are also other deadly creatures to take care of, along with the crazy rogue operatives from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

It’s someone who has infiltrated the Weyland-Yutani Corporation who releases the Xenomorphs in the cargo bay in the first place. By the time you inspect what is going on in the tutorial Prologue segment of the game, it will already be too late. Trying to weld the doors shut to keep the Xenomorphs from attacking the rest of the crew is useless. You manage to activate a defense protocol that destroys the Brettonville cargo ship that was carrying more Xenomorphs, but the USS Otago is damaged in the process.

You’re extracted by Sgt. Jones and a group of Colonial Marines to the crash-landed USS Otago, where the main adventure will begin. Deputy Administrator Maeko Hayes, who you get to control during the aforementioned prologue in the game, is appointed as intelligence officer. Along with battling against the Xenomorphs and other enemies, you’ll need to explore each location to secure the resources needed to repair the USS Otago. As someone who reviewed Alien: Isolation on PlayStation 4, I can tell you that one Xenomorph is certainly bad news. Having a ton of them loose is extremely worse.

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There are four different difficulty settings to choose from so that you can find the right one based on your experience with the genre. The first one is Story which, as its name suggests, will allow you to focus on the game’s story without having to worry about the battles. Enemies will have less health, will take longer to detect you, and won’t be as aggressive. The campaign death clock is also more permissive. This is important because the game features permadeath, so if you’re not careful, you will end up losing some of your team members.

If you choose Medium, you’ll be taking on the standard Aliens: Dark Descent experience. Enemy health, detection, and aggressiveness will be average, and the campaign death clock will be a bit more challenging. Jump into Hard, and you’ll immediately notice that enemies have more health, will quickly detect you, are highly aggressive, and the campaign death clock is very restrictive. Move into Nightmare, and then all hell breaks loose. Enemy health and aggressiveness are very high, detection is very fast, and the campaign death clock is very restrictive.

One extra option to consider before you dive into this new journey is the one for the save system. On the standard setting – Permissive – you will have a lot of autosaves available for loading if you do end up making a mistake. This is crucial for when you’re getting to learn more about how the game works and how it differs from other RTS. The other option is called No One Can Hear Them Scream. If you choose it, you will only have two autosaves will be available, and they will be replaced regularly. There will be one during the base management of the Otago and one during deployment at each rest.

With this one being a real-time strategy game, you’ll have to issue commands to your group along the way so that everyone makes the most of the abilities inherent to their class. In order to balance things out, you will have command points to spend to be able to issue commands to your squad. At first, you won’t have a large enough pool to constantly change your strategy on the fly, but you’ll later be able to upgrade your Colonial Marines to use more skills.

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As for the controls you’ll be using, you can move the camera using the left analog stick. You can use the right analog stick to rotate and zoom the camera as needed. Press the Square button to order them to move to the spot marked by the cursor you’ll be moving around the area. The L1 and R1 buttons can be used to switch between the Colonial Marines under your command. Press the R2 button to open and close the skill menu so that you can use the right skill to get the job done.

To move the story forward, you will have to complete a series of objectives. Later on, secondary objectives – marked with a separate icon – will also be available. Completing secondary objectives will allow you to recover hidden resources as well as obtain additional information. You can review all of them on the upper left corner of the screen at any given time. Keeping an eye on enemy movement will be very important for your survival since hiding will also need to be part of the gameplay loop so that you can gain the upper hand by ambushing opponents.

Since most of the time you’ll be fighting against Xenomorphs, that means you’ll have to keep in mind that when you defeat one, there’s a chance that it can explode into an acid burst. You know, because their blood is basically acid. This acid burst will deal damage to any Colonial Marine within its blast radius. This is why it would be wise to have your units walking in the opposite direction as they shoot at Xenomorphs so that you can always try to keep a safe distance between them and the deadly monsters.

It’s going to be pretty much impossible to keep all of your Colonial Marines from receiving damage during combat. As they receive damage, you might end up with one or two of them suffering from a light wound. Take, for example, what will happen if one of your units ends up with a wounded leg. On top of the general wounded status, having an injured leg will add a movement penalty, which will have an effect on how fast it can move. This could prove to be deadly if your squad is ambushed and that unit can’t get to safety quickly enough!

Since you’ll be using many skills during your time with Aliens: Dark Descent, you might want to consider how you’ll want to handle the action when opening your skill menu. You can either have the action slow down a bit when you open up the skill menu or have all action come to a half as the game is automatically paused. You can change this from the options menu, so you might want to give both a try to see which one best suits your playing style. Having a few extra seconds to take a breather and better think about what your next action will be can make a big difference in the end.

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As mentioned before, the USS Otago will serve as your base of operation. Even after crashing into Lethe from the damage sustained after the activation of the Cerberus Protocol that aimed to keep the Brettonville from taking its deadly cargo to its final destination, the USS Otago still has valuable resources for your new mission. You have the medical quarters where you can assign a physician to treat a wounded Colonial Marine in order to speed up the healing process. For each assigned physician, the recovery period will be reduced by one day.

There’s also the workshop, where you will be able to unlock new weapons for your Marines. Weapons will provide your units with specific skills as well as boost the damage dealt. You’ll need materials to be able to build new weapons, which is why you should check how many additional resources you can find in each mission before you dive into action. Along with materials, you can also recover datapads, as well as collect xenotech.

You can build your squad from the Colonial Marines at your disposal, choosing their loadout as needed. Add a gunner to bring some extra firepower into the team. Keep a medic nearby to keep your squad in good shape. A recon can help you survey the area as it tries to outrun monsters. There’s also the option of taking some supplies into a mission. Medical supplies can be used to heal Marines as well as to lower their stress – you don’t want a stressed Marine to freak out as a Queen moves in for the kill. You can also bring tools into a mission that can be used for things such as, say, welding doors.

Aliens: Dark Descent Review - 4

As expected, since this is a retail release, it’s a game that has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy. And on top of that, Aliens: Dark Descent is a Cross-Buy release, which means that if you own a PlayStation 5 console, you can download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game, and each version will have its own separate trophy list. Each list has 36 Bronze trophies, 5 Silver trophies, and 4 Gold trophies. What will you need to do to get that new Platinum trophy in your collection?

You will need to defeat 100 Xenomorphs, advance characters for each of the different classes to level 10, defeat an enemy by using an explosive barrel, destroy four eggs with a single grenade or RPG shot, save a marine from dying from bleeding, keep all marines alive during a campaign, unlock every weapon during a campaign, complete every mission in the game, and kill every queen in the game, to name some examples. There are also trophies for completing the game in the Medium, Hard, and Nightmare difficulty settings, along with finishing the game in No One Can Hear Them Scream Mode, so good luck with that one!

Aliens: Dark Descent is an interesting single-player strategic, real-time, squad-based tactical action game that brings us a solid experience set in the beloved Alien universe. As you fight against Facehuggers, Guardians, and Xenomorphs of different classes – Runners, Praetorians, warriors, and even the deadly Queen – you’ll make the most of your squad’s skills and loadout to try and survive as you collect enough resources to improve stuff at the USS Otago, which will act as your base of operation. I did run into a couple of bugs while playing the game. A handful of times, some elements in cutscenes disappeared – a couple of times without ever returning into frame – which made for some interesting cutscenes. There was also one time when the game crashed, and I had to restart a mission since I was playing in No One Can Hear Them Scream Mode.

Aliens: Dark Descent Review - 5

Aliens: Dark Descent is available as a Cross-Buy tile with a $39.99 price tag, so your purchase will allow you to download both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game at no extra cost. There’s also the Lethe Recon Pack DLC for $3.99, which gives you access to an exclusive Black Camo Armor Set for your squad and a unique feline companion to liven up the decks of the Otago.

This Aliens: Dark Descent review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Focus Entertainment.

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