Aliens: Dark Descent Review – They’re In The Walls

There haven’t been many games that have adapted the Aliens name that have managed to capture the essence of what makes many of its early films so captivating. The survival-horror game Alien: Isolation comes closest, eschewing the typical direction of action for horror, making its single Xenomorph a terrifying entity that demands the fearful respect so many other adaptations fail to offer it. While there are many, many more Xenomorphs in Aliens: Dark Descent, this hybrid of action and real-time strategy mostly works because it conveys the same sense of fear you feel when engaging them, which makes it easier to gloss over the times its other systems don’t quite work as well.

Aliens: Dark Descent predominantly takes place on the planet Lethe, after a familiar scene of a Xenomorph outbreak takes place on a Weyland-Yutani space station and forces the entire area into a deadly lockdown. As survivors scramble for a way to get off-planet while also investigating the root of the outbreak, you’ll travel to numerous locations across the planet to uncover clues, scavenge for supplies, and shoot down anything that gets in your way. Aliens: Dark Descent has the inklings of a captivating tale that never delivers on any of its initial promises, boiling down an interesting premise in the opening hours to a standard story without much to say beyond its straightforward mystery.

The story is mostly delivered through dialogue between the game’s two leads, a surviving administrator from the opening space station and a grizzled space marine with a strange link to the Xenomorphs. Their chemistry is lacking and their relationship swings wildly from one extreme to the next in very short spaces of time, making it difficult to feel engaged in their plight or personal motivations. Secondary characters rarely get any moments to shine, so it’s easy to start tuning the entire thing out in lieu of Dark Descent’s far more interesting pieces.

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