Before launch I played Genesis Alpha One for the first time and had a blast. It was a bit different and quite interesting, I was very happy Team 17 had sent me a copy for review.
There is a moment when you first realise what the game wants you to do and its pretty exciting. You are the captain of a vessel you are creating as you go, sailing through space looking for a new home, a place that humanity can start over. There are aliens to battle, modules to add to you ship to increase functionality, crew to create and manage, away missions to mine resources on planet surfaces, alien attacks on your ship and on planets with last minute escapes needed to get away with the loot.
All of these systems come together to give you plenty to do, plenty to manage and plenty to plan for.
Every time you start a game you need to build a few modules to get started and then you can create and build onto your ship as you traverse the various sectors looking for Eden. Creating the ship and adding to it is a very simple affair. Select the module you want, add it to a snap point on an existing module and a connection will be made, there are turbo lifts for expanding up and down as well as out and it’s here that I need to start telling you why I don’t really think Genesis Alpha One is a good game.
The first issue is one of engagement. Yes, there are a lot of tasks to do but none of them are much fun on their own, there is no sense of joy when you add a new module. You add a module, assign a crew member and carry on with the other myriad of tasks that leave you feeling “meh”.
Creating new crew members in the clone bay has no sense of awe either, even when you are splicing alien DNA to create weird looking hybrids capable of more than a human and yet, without you there to tell them exactly what to do they would just stand idle in the clone bay.
The whole of Genesis Alpha One feels disconnected in a way that is hard to quantise. For example, to add a new section to your ship, you first must gather the necessary components, this means having a clone operating the tractor beam. You have to go to the tractor beam and assign the clone. More often than not when you jump to a new solar system you have to tell them to do it again, it means you have to go there, great, at least we are getting new components. Well not quite so fast, you have to run to each module and assign the other clones that have forgotten what they are supposed to do.
This quickly becomes an
Moving on to the ship expansion. It works well from the actual building viewpoint but the menu system is awful. Things are not where you think they should be and the whole thing can get frustratingly tedious as you look in places you think would be obvious. From the module headings which are Connections, Farming, Crew, Life Systems, Defensive, Space Travel, where would you look for the Green House? That’s right, Farming, well you would be wrong as it is under Life Systems, how about the Tractor beam? Defensive, no that is under Farming.
Visually I think the game has a unique look and I really like it but the moment I open up a console to do something I get the feeling that an engineer did the graphics, someone with a masters degree in spreadsheets to whom everything is perfectly logical.
My first away mission was a very interesting affair. I headed to a planet in a shuttle, this saw the doors close on the ship and open again on a planet, I was ok with the transition but it could have been done a little better, I headed out and started to mine and I had fun, then the aliens attacked and my two crewmates acted like fools running about and shooting at me. Once we got back to the shuttle we had to have the doors open while we prepped for take off and had to fight back a growing hoard of spider-like cryptids. The next time I went on an away mission and did the exact same thing, I was rather disappointed. After returning to the ship I had to fight a few aliens in the hanger and in fact, each time I was doing something interesting I was called to the tractor beam to fight an alien. After I put turrets into the tractor beam module I lost interest and refused to help out.
Each playthrough gave me the impression I was playing a game that was on rails, hidden but they were there.
I could go on but I do not feel that Genesis Alpha One deserves my time. I was very excited for this game and I have to say I am incredibly disappointed.
Being able to build a vessel and then actually walk around it should be a massive selling point but somehow the developers have created a game without a soul, without character.
Starting out you can select a company, a crew and some artifacts, this alone should change the way things begin enough to be interesting however, the corporation just denotes how much of a certain material you start with and the feelings are the same. As you play through you will unlock more corporations but very little changes between the games.
I started to hate my crew mates who had no assignments, wandering around looking like each other and having stupid expressions on their faces. I wish there was more ways to interact with them but I couldn’t find a lot to interest me in them. Assigning them to a console in a particular room is not enough I am afraid.
The added problem these gormless AI give you is that you are now responsible for everything they cannot do. In short order, you will be left fighting off an alien infestation alone while trying to get everyone back to work at their consoles and the repetition of the same scenario playing out over and over becomes extremely tedious. After an attack, they seem to spawn on your ship at will, even after you have cleared the whole ship and I think the logic of that is as frustrating as the task itself.
I got bored of restarting, I got bored of the gunfights the weapon crafting the clone creation, everything, in fact, I would honestly say that there isn’t a single action in the game that I still find interesting or without the creeping frustration of one kind or another. Genesis Alpha One contains everything that should make a game fun and interesting but leaves me with a sense that an opportunity to create something great was missed by an uncomfortable margin.
Addendum: Today is launch day and I cannot start a new game, the old saves cause a hard crash and trying to start a new game leaves me in a frustrating loop of clicking into nothing. It sums up my feelings about the game better than my summary did.
An opportunity missed
- Gameplay - 46%46%
- Graphics - 74%74%
- Sound - 70%70%
- Longevity - 25%25%
- Value - 30%30%
An opportunity to bring a new and exciting IP to market has been missed and its a real shame as this could have been a great game.