Genesis Alpha One (PlayStation 4)

Platform Playstation 4, Xbox One
Developer Radiation blue
Publisher Team 17
Release Date 29/01/2019
Code Provided by Team 17

A new title has made its way to PS4 by the name of Genesis Alpha One, or GAO for short, and comes from developers Radiation Blue. The rouge lite space adventure releases today and is also available for Xbox One & PC via Steam.

GAO sees you take up the responsibility of captain of the USS Genesis, a space fairing ship funded by one of humanities largest corporations in a last ditch effort to find a new home for your species after the complete depletion of natural resources, food and almost all else that earth offered to us. Your mission sees you travel to a distant star system dubbed Alpha One, with the soul objective of finding a planet to inhabit among the sea of stars.

The basic premise of the game is just that, find a planet we can live on, somewhere with resources we can use to start over. While that sounds simple enough, in actual fact its far from it. After playing the tutorial you will have unlocked a few corporations to choose from, one being the leading power in cloning, one in military and one in iron works. There are more options available, but chances are most players will end up with one of these 3 with subsequent unlocks later on. These initial corporations have gathered what they can to build a ship to find your new home, however the limited resources left available to humanity mean you will have only the basics in crew and building materials.

And this is were our true mission begins – survive and grow using the basics you start with. You will have to find more resources scattered across the system by salvaging debris, exploring planets, trading and much more, all while surviving aliens, disease and even the system itself! My initial run was cut short after a chaotic 2-3 hours of trying to learn everything I could and do everything at once. To be totally honest I failed miserably my second run too, however I was much more equipped with the knowledge the tutorial either failed to impart or intentionally neglected.

My second attempt saw a much smoother start. I built myself up to a fully functional level in around an hour or two and transitioned from overwhelmed to “This isn’t so bad”, before hitting a lull of repetition and ease. For the next few hours I mindlessly farmed resources and glided through sector after sector with no real resistance or issue, finding myself somewhat underwhelmed after the adrenaline rush of my failed attempt as I grew larger and more powerful with this ease the tedium grew as I hand no clear cut objective but FIND A HOME I decided to push my luck and forge on ahead. This is were I failed the second time. My overconfidence saw my ship pelted by asteroids while simultaneity having the computer scream life form detected at me and my ship falling apart in moments.

I’m not sure if this was down to my playstyle on each attempt or the random generation of the games systems, or even a mixture of both, but the 3rd run was much more enjoyable for me. I became hooked by expanding and exploring until I’d visited every planet and gathered all the meta items before I even noticed it myself. For this reason I cannot condemn GAO, or say its at fault, and simply put it down to luck of the draw. Yes it can be overwhelming, or even mind numbing, but it seems that’s just how the cards fell and could appeal to the players preference. I’d personally like to see more fixed balance, with perhaps a reduction in available materials on low level planets, but simply not taking them at all works to the same effect.

Visually GAO is not what I’d expect of a current gen title for the most part, with aspects looking out of place. One key note being the super shiny pipes in the otherwise grimy refinery. that also lacked any detail up close. Now it may seem like I’m picking fault here, but the only reason I do so is because the instances like this that occur, despite other items/objects not having these issues

I did however love the 80’s look to some aspects of the game, such as the terminals themselves and the visual displays on them. These aspects I found somewhat reminiscent of the TV show Red dwarf or Stranger things. A sharp contrast between the ship tech and the laser weapons or beaming technology, gives more of a feel that this ship and crew were scraped together from nothing and only the most key factors were used. “you need clones? Sure but we have to run in on lynx and a typewriter and use a hamster wheel to power it”

Audio I cant fault. There are so many things going on at any one time I’d be me more surprised if it didn’t skip a beat. From robots to doors, the crew to the BGM, even the life systems and aliens. All of it falls right into place, and while there’s a lot going on at once, more so in an attack. The world around you is constantly on the go giving a fully immersed experience the whole time.

Gameplay requires many aspects that would be almost impossible to cover in detail in this review, but generally involves some key stages including management. This includes building your ship and keeping lifeforms off of it while ensuring you have the items you need for trading or building. This can be massive hindrance if not done correctly as you will be unable to upgrade, or find your ship full of lifeforms. Both of these issues can lead to game over very quickly, due to damages or losing all your stored items. At one point after my ship got overrun I ended up without storage at all, and due to that could not build another as I lost all my items in said storage. Due to this I could not build anything, including storage. This basically meant game over, even after surviving the attack.

The 2nd and 3rd parts mostly go hand in hand, exploration and upgrades. With a hanger built you can travel to planet surfaces to gather minerals to build and upgrade, plants to make biomes for your life support or find remains of crashed ships ext that have blueprints and weapons. All of these will be needed to complete your mission and improve your crew and gear.

The final stage of game play is the 1st person shooter aspects and thus survival. Deadly force will be required in alpha one, in fact almost nothing is a friendly and despite their intelligence, humans are rather squishy beings. A number of lifeforms in alpha one will see to that often as you go through captains. Should the current one die, then the closest crew member will take up the mantel. You can clone more and augment their DNA or get other upgrades doing this. You will always be vastly outnumbered, and should you find yourself with no crew left, then its game over

The systems outlined in the review could be polished or honed to much greater detail and I would in fact love to see that, perhaps with a co-op DLC I’ve seen being requested, or even simply expanding on what the game already offers with new aliens or more types of exploration. At the moment its all a little basic, but I cant say that its innately a bad thing. As basic as things feel at times, there’s a lot to be doing and adding more to the plate of a first timer may be a bit too much. For what we have now however, the price tag of £25 seems reasonable for the amount of time spent with the game so far – there’s certainly a good base for the developer to work on.

7/10

Pros
varied gameplay focuses
fresh play through and unlocks give replay ability
immersive and challenging at times

Cons
Lulls in new activities or encounters can be large
tutorial could be more detailed
planets need more variety

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