Alien Life Simulator is an ambitious new roguelite developed by J6 Games, who want to send you to space to fix all your disgusting personality flaws.
As you explore, you’ll have to manage your hunger, and, much to my displeasure, your emotions. These are really just buffs/debuffs you can build up over time to customise your playstyle, and the mechanic isn’t quite as interesting as Alien Life Simulator makes it out to be. It feels like several half-baked survival/rogue game mechanics tossed in a pot, and as a result it doesn’t really excel at anything besides visual appeal. There’s certainly a good game here somewhere, but it feels like it’s probably quite a long way away.
At the moment, everything seems really, really basic. To me, this doesn’t feel like a project that’s three to six months away from completion as the Steam page suggests. The alien models are great with ridiculously varied levels of quirkiness, and there’s a definite visual identity established early on. Exploring the worlds is fairly exciting but shooting has no weight to it – you might as well be lobbing wadded-up newspaper at your enemies for all the impact it has.
Given the amount of fighting you have to do, this is a major buzzkill. This lack of feedback reverberates into so many aspects of Alien Life Simulator. Hoovering up resources from fallen foes doesn’t feel intuitive or satisfying. There’s no thrill to the combat even in tenser moments because the same soundtrack – as nice as it is – continues blooping along regardless.
Alien Life Simulator does not benefit from its implementation of rogue-lite mechanics, making it feel like the system has been tacked on for lack of anything better. The genre is flush with fantastic examples that get the core hook just right – granted, these are from developers with far more manpower and money behind them, but after my first few deaths in this one I just felt my desire to continue exploring evaporate. This is compounded by how indistinct the hub area seems to be.
After dying I reloaded the game and was dumped back into the hub to regroup. I needed to restock on food and hop through a portal, but all the buildings are indistinguishable. There’s no map, no way to highlight the portal I was currently tackling, no indication of where the place is to craft another key – this all seems like stuff that should already be in the game if it’s as close to release as it seems. These are all things that can be corrected, sure. The greater problem is that the gameplay at Alien Life Simulator‘s core is just not satisfying, and that’s beyond the powers of Early Access to fix.
It’s currently on Steam for £19.49. They intend to raise the price when it’s out of Early Access. I would call that a fairly big ask for what’s on offer here, and perhaps even too large a price tag for what the roadmap sets out in the future. I hate comparing indie games to one another unless absolutely necessary, but Valheim was developed by a team of five people, and that’s charging three quarters of the price for a considerably more finished product.
Alien Life Simulator – a little bit too early?
I think most of Alien Life Simulator‘s foundations are strong, and the developer clearly has some great ideas. It’s much too early on in development to make a proper call as to how this one will turn out. As of now, I’d suggest giving Alien Life Simulator a wide berth until it’s had a bit more time in the oven. It’s trying to do too much at once, and while the eclectic mix of mechanics might appeal to some, right now it just feels messy and basic.
I will keep checking in on Alien Life Simulator as it develops, and update this preview if my opinion changes. I hope it can find the gold in them there hills.