This title was reviewed on Xbox One, but is also available on PS4 and PC.
It seems that the Rogue-like genre is the current fad in the Indie game industry, and I have reviewed my fair share of them. The best of them that I’ve reviewed are ones that took the basic Rogue-like idea and gave it a unique spin, or threw it in a blender with another genre (such as the Quake-like Polygod or the platformer RPG-like Xenon Valkyrie+). So when Genesis Alpha One landed in my lap, I was immediately interested because of how it incorporates Rogue-like mechanics. So how does this space-faring adventure stack up? Let’s find out.
The graphics here are certainly a mixed bag. Animations, models, and textures are okay, but not what I would call good. They certainly do the job though. Where the graphics shine is in the lighting. The lighting here is very well done and enhances the atmosphere greatly, whether you’re trudging in the vents underneath your ship or exploring a new planet for minerals.
The story is pretty simple. Corporations have created the Genesis program in order to save humanity. This means you have to journey into uncharted space to find a new home for humanity. It’s simple and pretty overdone, although it does its job in giving the player the motivation to push through the game.
The gameplay in Genesis Alpha One can be neatly split into two phases, each with plenty of depth within. One of these phases is ship building. You can’t explore space without a ship can you? The ship building and management has a surprising amount of substance. There’s plenty of rooms to choose from, each with their own necessary uses: there’s a tractor beam room to gather resources, a bio dome to farm plants, quarters to increase the room for more crew members, a workshop and armoury for weapons, and much more. There’s so many rooms and options in the ship building suite that it was almost like its own game at times.
The second phase takes place in first-person, and has you putting these rooms to use. You play as the Captain of the ship, and must assign your crew to use each room, plant plants for the biodome, set up defences etc. Everything your crew can do you can do, with you assigning crew members to basically automate everything. Everything requires materials, which you can get from tractor beaming space debris, or going down into nearby planets to harvest materials. Both of these are risky, as they can have you come into contact with a whole host of alien beasts who want you dead. You have a variety of weaponry to combat these creatures but sadly the gunplay is very poor. Weapons just feel like pea shooters and lack impact, so killing these creatures never felt fun. Their ability to kill you does bring in the interesting Rogue-like mechanics.
Perma-death is a thing as always, but in a different way. If your Captain dies, he’s dead, but that isn’t an instant game over. Instead, one of your crew members gets promoted to Captain, and control goes to them. If all your of crew members die, then it’s game over. But you can make more. If you build a clone room, you can conduct some morally ambiguous experiments. Should you have the room with your crew quarters and enough biomass, you can clone yourself, making new crew members to act as fodder to keep your game going. Just like the rest of the game, there’s some added depth in the fact that you can actually cross breed. Should you harvest some of the DNA from the aliens you kill, you can cross breed them into your clones to create new ones. Each type of alien/human hybrid has its own pros and cons, so there’s unique strategy to cloning, which is a nice touch.
The audio here is nothing to rave about, but its serviceable. The gunshots are poor, which I think contributes to the weak gunplay, but the enemy sound effects are rather chilling and add a creepy vibe to the game. Music is sparse but decently done too, and the automated voice that helps you with your ship is also decent.
Genesis Alpha One is a very interesting take on the Rogue-like genre, and one that is pretty solid to play too. The ship building has a ton of depth to it, and although the gunplay is pretty weak, the game is pretty fun to play thanks to the interesting Rogue-like mechanics centred on cloning and cross breeding. The graphics leave a lot to be desired, but the solid lighting elevates it significantly. Splash on some decent sound, and you’ve got a solid adventure, just don’t expect much of a story.