Your average video game player is accustomed to the one man army protagonist. A stoic super soldier space marine taking on an entire race of alien scum with just the guns he picks up along the way. Some have amazing high-tech armor, others have godlike superpowers, and a few are just jackasses with one-liners, but you've seen them all before. What you might not have seen is what Let Them Come brings to the table. The hero of this mission isn't super, he's just a man with a stogie, a boombox, and a machine gun. Entrenched in a derelict space station after watching his platoon go down to a race of otherworldly monsters, this soldier has to defend himself from the hordes as best he can. This debut work from Tuatara Games is a strong reminder that even an hours-long turret sequence can be a blast with the right mix of mechanics and a killer soundtrack backing it up.
Let Them Come is proud to be an arcade game, and I couldn't be happier about that. Outside of a brief setup and some extra story bits to string you along, it's all about the gameplay. The entire ordeal takes place in a string of narrow hallways. You have to keep shooting at scores of alien spiderlings and centipedes as they erupt from every visible vent. Only a grenade toss or a swing of your knife can interrupt your stream of bullets. Additionally, there are upgrades a plenty to acquire as you blast past wave after wave. You have alternate ammo to purchase alongside perks for your machine gun and armor buffs. Grenades go from standard fragmentation to shock and fire payloads. Melee choices range from a simple knife to a baseball bat and a chainsaw that begs for you to find some meat.
This may sound repetitious at first. However, there's a strategic layer to the whole experience that reminds me more of a fast-paced clicker than a shooter. You have to pay attention to the floors and ceilings for small buggers. You have to measure when to use each of your tools for maximum efficiency. Your machine gun overheats if you lean on the trigger too hard. All the special toys you spent so much money on eventually run out of uses. Stocking up on new supplies requires new currency, and that only comes from using bullets you bought an hour ago to rip through some fodder.
The complexity continues to ramp up as you progress through the game. Armored foes require piercing rounds or a well-placed explosive. Zombified soldiers pepper you with small arms fire as they lurch ahead. Giant gaping maws reach out with their tongues to grab grenades out of the air. Swarms of small flies absorb bullets while a pack of hounds charges forward. There's a lot of variety on display despite the gameplay's limited scope, and I always wanted to see what new horror was going to march my way next.
What helped with this engagement was the game's soundtrack, which really takes center stage throughout the proceedings. An intoxicating mixture of synth-heavy rock beats accompany your every kill and the party never stops even if you happen to be between lives. Better still, the game recognizes how key the music is to this formula by making the majority of its soundtrack an unlockable reward. You start with one mixtape of four songs and collect more as the stages go on. In this way, players gain control over which songs they wish to slay to and the developers are able to ensure that a stream of new tunes is always around the corner.
Truly, this is where the real victory in Let Them Come lies. This game squeezes so much variety out of its limited concept that players are going to want to sit through the whole campaign in one go. Furthermore, the game knows how to keep players from quitting out of rage or boredom. Buiding up a combo will let players pick from a few randomized perks, and it's a fine assortment. Passive rewards such as a rocket drone or a barbed wire shield will help you stay in the fight longer. If you'd rather go nuts, grab a FRENZY power-up and gain unlimited shots with no overheating for a short time.
If you die too fast in a wave, you can choose between a new set of enemies to tackle or a random boost for your next encounter. All these tools are rapidly thrown at you, and your test runs in the campaign will only enhance your play when you get to the challenge modes. These give you a limited set of currency and an endless wave of baddies to mow down on a single quarter, and I found them engrossingly repeatable.
The combat loop feels like a perfect circle, but that illusion shatters whenever you get to one of Let Them Come's boss encounters. The developers deserve praise for crafting some fun scenarios for these encounters, but I found my play grinding to a halt whenever I had to stop and figure out how to hurt my foe. Each boss requires a very specific set of weapons to defeat, and you'll need to go through a lot of rapid-fire trial and error before you can grasp what you're doing wrong.
It just feels cheap to have a boss shrug off explosive ammo you paid for because he's only harmed by armor piercing rounds. In addition, it's entirely possible to invest heavily in the wrong weapons for a given scenario and trap yourself with no funds. This forces you to grind small bits of currency over and over just to scrounge together the right ammo for the job. The boss fights make up a small part of Let Them Come, but I always celebrated when they were over.
If there's one thing I can praise bosses for, it's that they share the same amazing graphical design as the rest of the game's invading forces. Although the Steam page advertises Let Them Come as a pixel art experience, I get a much stronger Quake vibe from the proceedings. This is a 2D iteration on the foes from Strafe, with harsh angular lines and a dingy grey color scheme. The gibs and gore that emerge from each foe splatter all over the environment in marvelous detail, and I love how the slime from exploding pods can stick onto other enemies as they march into the line of fire.
Like the best actioners, Let Them Come is a pick up and play gem that will satisfy in small sessions. The entire story is over in a flash and doesn't have much substance, but the pulse-pounding gunplay, endless challenge modes, and fun Twitch chat integration will ensure that fans will have plenty of reasons to keep shooting. While the boss fights do more harm than good, that's hardly a reason to overlook this alien invasion.
Our Let Them Come review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. Its official website is let-them.com, which is pretty rad.
Let Them Come is the ultimate turret sequence. The game blasts past expectations with simple arcade gameplay and a solid presentation that combines the best of 90s shooters with heavy synth beats.
- Breakneck Shooting Fun
- Rocking Synth Soundtrack
- Quake-Style Rogues Gallery
- Lousy Boss Encounters
- Occasionally Broken Economy