Earth has been destroyed! With the last remnants of humanity trapped in hibernation, Earth’s last spaceships are defenseless against the alien menace. Extinction is inevitable! Humanity is doomed!
Unless that tiny robot with a rocket launcher has something to say about it.
Super Mutant Alien Assault is an action game, focused on combat in small arenas against swarms of monsters. Weapons are dispensed randomly and one at a time, so you’ll need to become proficient at assault rifles, boomerangs, laser swords, and many more.
Combat is fast and breezy with tight controls that allow for quick movement and precision jumping. Players can collect support items that allow for various maneuvers, both offensive and defensive. These include dashing, double-jumping, and teleporting. The controls are easy to learn and will come naturally to those who enjoy sidescrolling action games. The weapon and item mechanics provide depth, while the core gameplay remains simple and easy to pick up and play.
The game can be played solo or with a partner, and both ways are fun and frantic. Co-op is well-balanced, never feeling too easy or too hard. Players can revive one another from death, but only a little bit of health is restored. Resources must carefully be shared and conserved. Friendly fire generally isn’t an issue, but weapons that cause explosions hurt everything they hit, friend and foe alike. The game does a fine job emphasizing actual cooperation, rather than just playing at the same time.
Objectives change from level to level, but are always basic and easy to understand. Sometimes you only need to survive, while other times you are tasked with hauling fuel across the ship, or with keeping pumps from overheating. You fight a boss on every fourth level, which is made harder by the enemies who spawn throughout.
And there is plenty of difficulty in Super Mutant Alien Assault. The game is fast and skill-based, requiring accuracy and the ability to leap and dodge through tight windows. To play successfully, you’ll need to know how to read enemies, how to dodge specific attacks, and how to go full speed all the time. It’s not hard to simply get through the game, but beating it all in one sitting is tricky, and it’s only the start. After doing so once, a higher difficulty unlocks, and then another when you beat that. Even Normal—the lowest difficulty—is no cakewalk. Each new difficulty results in less health, longer missions, and more enemies.
With a game of this nature, difficulty is important, because it lengthens the shelf-life of an otherwise short game. Super Mutant Alien Assault is composed of three galaxies of four stages each. A single level may only take a couple minutes to complete, so the entire game can be finished quickly. There’s a lot of content to unlock, and the levels and enemies change each time you play. It has replay value, but only to a point.
Unless you become addicted to the gameplay—which is admittedly a lot of fun—the game will run out of gas faster than you may like. The three galaxies are skinned differently and get progressively more difficult, but they don’t really feel unique. The same enemies, weapons, and objectives appear from start to finish, with the only variance coming by way of the bosses.
Super Mutant Alien Assault’s simplicity is an asset to its gameplay, but a detriment to its longevity. The game captures the thrill of blasting enemies and dodging for your life, but it never takes that extra step. The playground is small, the action repetitive, and the cast of enemies limited. There are plenty of guns and items to unlock, but even here, the game’s lack of variety rears its head. Everything is unlocked simply by beating a cumulative amount of missions. The higher difficulty levels will increase the game’s longevity among hardcore players. Others can expect a few hours of fun, but not much more.