Genesis Alpha One is a highly ambitious title from developer Radiation Blue. Comprised of team members who’ve worked on Hitman, Velvet Assassin, Spec-Ops The Line and more, there’s a pedigree that sets a level of expectation. In addition to that, Genesis Alpha One is being billed as mixing;
thrilling roguelike mechanics with a deep ship builder and fast first-person action, putting you in the role of an interstellar pioneer.
It’s a lot to attempt and although Genesis Alpha One doesn’t always succeed, it mostly does. The longer I played, the better I understood the systems and mechanics of the game. I began to feel the desperation to find a new home, but the allure of new discoveries tugging me in the opposite direction.
There’s an awful lot to Genesis Alpha One and there’s always something to do. Whether or not it tickles your fancy, that’s another thing entirely.
Genesis Alpha One Review
The premise of Genesis Alpha One is that Earth is failing and the future of humanity lies out in the stars. The Genesis Project was designed to find a habitable planet and start a brand-new human colony. To achieve this lofty goal, humans are willing to go to some extraordinary lengths.
These include splicing their DNA with that of alien species, destroying mass amounts of fauna, mining the hell out of asteroids and sub-habitable planets and seemingly doing away with sex altogether. Reproduction as part of the Genesis Project is all about cloning.
The above description of Genesis Alpha One is pretty accurate. When you first begin the game, you’re taken through a short tutorial which first explains the basics of ship-building. The ship is your home and the core of the Genesis Project. Your success in colonising a new planet lives and dies with your ship. Via a simple 3D map of your ship, you’re able to add modules and functions. You’ll always need air to breathe, quarters to sleep and power.
These three resources are constantly draining what little stockpile you have. And it doesn’t stop there. Building an addition to your ship will require power, but it will also cost you some material too. It may require Copper, Iron, Aluminium, Platinum or others. Some of these resources are plentiful and some are incredibly difficult to find. Of course, the best ship modules will require the rarest materials. That’s just one of Genesis Alpha One’s gameplay loops.
That’s No Moon
Building a Tractor Beam allows you to scan planets and asteroids to determine which precious resources are available. Asteroids can be harvested remotely, while planets require an expedition. As Captain of the ship, you’re free to take part in as much or as little of the activities as you’d like. Each and every ship module can be manned by some of your clone army.
This automates the functions of your ship, somewhat. Some modules need your intervention. The Greenhouse, for example, requires that you select vegetation to plant before it will actually be done. Others, like the Deposit and Refinery, will operate autonomously regardless of your involvement. It’s slow going in the beginning as you won’t have enough resources to build everything you want and need.
The Hangar is the first module you’ll build that really changes the game. Here you’re able to launch expeditions to the surface and collect unrefined ore. Like other modules, you can send your crew down or join in. You can even go solo if you so choose. When you arrive on the surface, you’ll be greeted with a familiar sight every time.
In the centre of a circular domed area is your landing craft. Surrounding it are various rocks containing ore and plants and occasionally there are special archeological sites which grant you special items. These include artefacts that can be equipped at the beginning of games to provide much-needed buffs, locations of resources or items or lore.
On most planet surfaces, you’ll be constantly attacked by a variety of alien creatures. Some are small and crawl along the ground in large groups. Others are bipedal and carry weapons. All of them want to kill you. Your landing craft is equipped with a mounted gun, which does a lot of the work for you. However, should the enemies start getting too close, you can blast away with your equipped weapons.
The first-person shooting in Genesis Alpha One is sub-par at best and Radiation Blue has implemented an elegant solution. When you press L2, your reticule automatically locks to the nearest enemy. You can simply alternate L2 and R2 and make short work of most enemies. Better still, for all of the creepy crawly aliens, you can just jump up on one of the rocks and shoot them at your leisure.
To mine the ore on the planet, you’ll need to focus your laser on it for a few seconds, much like No Man’s Sky. When you’re done, it is automatically loaded onto the landing craft. However, you can only carry five pieces of ore at a time. Should a planet have 10 Copper, 9 Iron, 5 Uranium, 1 Plant and more, you’re going to have to make multiple trips to the surface.
It’s time-consuming yet oddly therapeutic.
Danger Clone Robinson
Each planet has a danger rating too. Low, medium and high danger levels are all doable, though you may take even longer to farm resources. However, planets with an extreme danger rating should be avoided until you’re packing some serious firepower. They’re usually occupied by multiple factions of the game’s deadliest enemies.
Once you return from the surface, your ore will be refined into usable resources, provided you have a Deposit, Refinery and robots to lug the ore around. Genesis Alpha One has systems, overlapping systems, on top of other systems which control yet more systems. It’s daunting when you first start playing and even after dozens of hours, I still don’t quite know how everything works.
For example, much like each planet, each star system has a danger rating. Some feature asteroid fields or solar winds and others are inhabited by dangerous military factions. Should you occupy the same star system as one of these military outfits, they will board your ship and kill everyone. Multiple times I thought I had the right defence systems in place and enough weapons, but every time I was absolutely wiped out.
Even with a dozen or so clones, I stood no chance.
In addition to manning your ship, clones also serve as your lives. Should you die, the captaincy will move to another member of the crew and so will your control. If you can keep enough clones on your ship, you can live forever. Clones come from a wide variety of species with humans being the first you can create. As you defeat the aliens on the surface, you’ll slowly collect their DNA.
Once you’ve acquired enough, you’re able to create a clone with that DNA included. This splicing lets you create clones of varying ability. Some have a higher health stat and are better at fighting or exploring planets. Others have a lower health stat but higher intelligence, making them perfect candidates for your science modules.
Whatever you choose, you’re also going to have to make sure they can survive on your ship. That means you’ll have to plant a combination of different flora to make sure everyone has breathable air. And the same goes for the end game.
Eventually, you’ll find a planet suitable for habitation and it will have its own set of requirements. You’ll need to have a certain number of clones who breathe a certain type of gas, you’ll need enough resources to build the required structures and you’re probably going to have to fend off an attack from those dreaded factions.
It’s a tall order and one that you’ll definitely struggle to achieve. But that’s the point, it’s not supposed to be easy and it’s not. Genesis Alpha One can be a brutal game, it can be a punishing game and it can be a chore. There are times when you have to do so much grinding for resources that your progress comes to a complete halt. It’s in these moments that I almost think it’s easier to start over than slog it out, scraping by for those precious resources.
In the end, you’re going to have to restart multiple times anyway. Death comes swiftly in Genesis Alpha One and even if your ship is packed to the gills with clones, chances are once one of them is down, the rest will soon follow. When that happens, it’s time to start all over again.
Genesis Alpha One is a collection of a multitude of gaming mechanics and systems that come together to form a pretty special whole. It’s obtuse and difficult yes, but it’s also rewarding, challenging and can definitely be a whole lot of fun. Much of which comes from experimentation, exploration and trial and error.
There is so much to cover when talking about Genesis Alpha One that it’s hard to know where to begin and where to end. It may seem like I’ve rushed through a tonne of information in this review and left you scratching your head. If so, good, cause that’s how Genesis Alpha One leaves you feeling. However, Genesis Alpha One is an exhilarating sci-fi experience unlike any other.
If you’re not a patient gamer or a fan of the slow burn, then this may not be for you. If you are though, it may take a while to grow on you, but once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.
Genesis Alpha One was reviewed on Xbox One using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Genesis Alpha One
Deep, engaging, customisable ship building - 10/10
Cloning/Gene Splicing an army - 8.8/10
Lot's of repetitive resource gathering - 5.3/10
Takes a long time to acquire the good stuff - 7.5/10
Planetside is essentially the same every time - 5.2/10
Exploring a massive star system is still very cool - 10/10
Unlimited Replayability - 10/10