I can’t lie to you about your chances but… you have my sympathies.

Reviewed on PC

There is a scene in the film Aliens where the space marines prepare for an assault from the xenomorphs. They place automated turrets in front of the doors and barricade themselves inside. It doesn’t work. The xenomorphs keep rushing until the turrets run out of ammo and then come in from the ceiling anyway. Very little of this is shown onscreen. Instead, you see the marines looking at the ammo counter getting lower and lower without progress as it slowly dawns on them all that they’re doomed. They did everything they could, they did everything right but it doesn’t matter. Space Beast Terror Fright feels like a game uniquely based on this scene, and that’s just fine.


What was I supposed to use, harsh language?

Space Beast Terror Fright is an FPS with permadeath and proceduraly generated levels that takes obvious inspirations from the Alien franchise. The objective is to run from point to point, uploading datacores in the infested hallways, unloading coolant in a central room and getting the hell out before the the space station you’re fighting in literally explodes. Also, xenomorphs (who, I cannot stress enough, kill you in one hit) break through doors and crawl through ventilation shafts infinitely. It’s also absurdly fast at times, speeding up the closer you are to the aliens. Space Beast keeps you moving (at a constant 60 fps, even on lower end machines). I actually felt a bit like Pac Man in the narrow corridors, running from datacore to datacore and away from the titular space beasts… in a good way, I promise.

You start the game out with a very basic setup: a choice of one weapon, a flashlight that will go dead in 60 seconds, and a barely functioning HUD. You can upgrade this setup and recharge your batteries only by going to datacores and uploading said data, which is what you’re supposed to be doing anyway. The upgrades encompass more and better ammo, a functioning minimap, motion detectors, and, my favorite, infravision which is not only super useful in a game that never wastes an opportunity to obscure your vision but also makes the game look trippy as all hell.


Indie shooter or 70s exploitation flick?

There are sentry turrets you can activate that turn the game into a pseudo tower defense, giving the ability to defend an area, or at least slow down the xenomorphs. This doesn’t mean you can be a sitting duck as each sentry only has 500 bullets and the space beasts will overwhelm you one way or another.

The beasts crawl through the tight corridors and spawn from ducts in the ceiling. They seem to know where you are at all times. They can destroy any door within ten seconds and can slay you instantly. You can kill them pretty quickly yourself, but again they have strength in numbers so it’s generally best to run away if possible. Combat is really more about self-defense than the visceral thrill of mowing down dozens of monsters.

That being said, combat also feels really good. Controls are very tight and responsive (on a keyboard or controller) and while playing at the aforementioned 60fps, it has that good old school feel of everything working simply, fast and well. The visceral give and take of attacking and retreating is relentlessly nerve racking but also quite satisfying once you understand the rhythm of the game.

2015-06-22_00014The rhythm to them stomping you, most times.

Getting to the point where you understand the rhythm though may be a bit much for some people as the game is really hard, with not a lot of payoff. You will die and die often. You’ll never die cheaply as the game takes great pains to let you know when an alien is near, but it will feel cheap the first few times and the procedural generation can make some runs feel impossible. When you do eventually win, all you really do is go to another randomized permutation of the one level with your character’s upgrades carrying over. Your reward is to stave off death long enough to make a mark on the high score. It’s enough for someone with an appreciation for “Nintendo Hard”. Anybody else? Maybe, maybe not.

Visuals, like the gameplay, are simple but elegant. I wasn’t impressed with the visuals at first, with it’s dank, uninspired space halls. Then I shot off a few rounds, watched the smoke, the particles, the reflections from the surfaces and, of course, the aforementioned infravision to discover a kind of strange beauty you could never find on even a more polished Aliens inspired game like Halo or Doom. Color is rare, but when it happens it really pops and feels special, delicate even.

2015-06-22_00010I feel so special and delicate right now

There’s also a pretty decent multiplayer element. A local multiplayer. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any fps on Steam that has local multiplayer(I would love to hear any counterexamples in the comments). This alone is a pretty big deal to me, since I like playing with my friends and this isn’t the kind of game I could convince any of them to buy for $14.99. It plays pretty smoothly in local, but I noticed a serious drop in fps during network play. Also there is friendly fire, so no the game is not necessarily easier with a buddy. Splitting up is almost a must.

In short, this is a small and simple game. It has a sharp difficulty curve and a claustrophobic, stressful design. This game isn’t for everyone but if it is for you, Space Beast Terror Fright accomplishes what it sets out to and does it well.

I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

Space Beast Terror Fright Review
Fast and stimulating gameplayCool atmosphereLocal Coop
Disorienting visualsHarsh difficulty curveKind of simple
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