The Behemoth is a longtime indie developer known for creating charming and very humorous titles. Those two elements really attracted me to all of their games, from Castle Crashers to Pit People. When I saw that The Behemoth was creating a new game, I got really excited—even more so since this was a return to their first-ever developed title. But, charm and humor can only go so far when a game lacks depth or compelling gameplay. Alien Hominid Invasion's PAX Online demo was just too basic and monotonous for it to be enjoyable.
Alien Hominid Invasion starts out promising enough, at least. I love The Behemoth's quirky cutscenes and weird, goofy music. The demo begins with an alien invasion, set 16 years after the first attack (Alien Hominid came out in 2004, after all). Then, we're met with a brief tutorial that goes over the controls before thrusting us into the action. In Alien Hominid Invasion, your little alien starts out armed with a blaster than can charge for a more powerful attack; he can also do a dodge dash, burrow into the ground and leap out on top of enemies, throw grenades, and jump higher by shooting at the ground. That's all there is in terms of movement and maneuvers. Admittedly, Alien Hominid Invasion feels smooth and controls well.
Players can choose their path of destruction on a grid-like map, all the way up to an enemy HQ. Different sections of the city you're invading have different effects, so if you want to buy new items, you can just weave your way to a shop. Other areas have "enemy swarms" or armored enemies; some, like the shops, might be more beneficial and give you more loot or currency. I don't mind the mechanic of choosing your path to the enemy headquarters, because going from one level to another doesn't feel as linear as a straight path to the finish.
The real problem I have is with the combat. When you land on an area and attack, there's a few objectives you need to complete. Every level requires you gain intel, which is all done by killing enemies. This is just so mindless. With the blaster, you'll repetitively tap the shoot button so much that it actually makes your finger tired. Enemies are also so pitifully weak that there's no impact to combat. Once you gain enough intel and upload it, you'll have another objective to complete. This might be killing purple-colored enemies or chasing a few robots around. Then, you collect more intel, and do another objective. It's the same thing over and over again for every level.
The objectives are the meat of the gameplay, but they feel so uninspired. There were only a few different objective variants, so you'll probably encounter these time and time again. After a half-hour demo, I felt like I saw all that Alien Hominid Invasion had to offer. That half hour was pretty uneventful, too. I truly hope that there will be a more varied selection of objectives upon release. Jumping around a 2D stage with meaningless platforming and flat gameplay doesn't help. I did not have a chance to play cooperative since there's no one around to do so, but even with friends, I find it hard to believe it'll increase my enjoyment when the core mechanics aren't substantive.
At the very least, I enjoy cosmetics and gear in my games, and Alien Hominid Invasion provides some of that. It appears that you'll level up and get crates which have new loot. Likewise, you can buy them from hideouts, which are shops. Loot includes new heads, weapons, and boosts. Heads change your appearance, and from what I've seen, these are really unique and funny. It's something I've come to expect from The Behemoth. One gave me a propeller nose and wings on the side of the head, which also had an effect allowing my alien to double jump. Others add percent modifiers like increased health. If they're just stat increases, it's not very exciting. I'd much prefer to have more heads that add new abilities like the double jump.
For weapons, I found a minigun that shot extremely fast, but couldn't charge up, and it also had to reload periodically. This was a breath of fresh air compared to the standard blaster, since I didn't have to constantly tap the shoot button to attack. It also felt like it added a bit more oomph to the combat, so this could indicate that gameplay picks up as you unlock more guns. The boosts, on the other hand, are like heads but don't offer a cosmetic change. Boosts change your stats like adding life steal or an increase in defense, but again, percent stat increases are rather unimaginative.
For all my gripes, Alien Hominid Invasion still has The Behemoth signature style. The art is a fantastic, cartoon-like look that never gets old. It's a style I've come to adore, having grown up playing Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater. Unfortunately, the gameplay just doesn't feel like it has the charm or passion they usually put into their games. I feel like Alien Hominid Invasion just needs more. Perhaps as time goes on, Alien Hominid Invasion will become a game worthy of the name. You can also try out the Alien Hominid Invasion demo on Steam during PAX Online.
Are you going to try out the Alien Hominid Invasion demo? What's your favorite The Behemoth game? Let us know in the comments below!