Developer: Radiation Blue | Publisher: Team 17
Release: January 29th 2019 (Epic Store, PS4, XBox One), January 2020 (Steam Store)
Initial Review: January 25th, 2019
Genesis Alpha One promises to "mix thrilling roguelike mechanics with a deep ship builder and fast first-person action, putting you in the role of an interstellar pioneer."
Earth is at the brink on destruction and humanity, yet again, faces to be extinguished. Fear not: You are the captain, one of a couple of clones who are sent out to the Quadrant of Alpha One to find the one planet where mankind's DNA can survive. To do so, you have to build and extend your ship, collect resources from shipwrecks or from the planet's surface, fight Aliens that manage to get on board and defend plants and crew. Sounds great!
Not without Tutorial
When starting a new mission, you have to pick your corporation. This defines certain starting parameters, like how many modules, resources or crew members you have available. The more you play, the more corporations, various crewmembers and artefacts you can pick when starting a new game. But first play the Tutorial Corporation it can't be skipped. With every new game, you have to build your ship first.
There are certain modules that need to be built: A Greenhouse, Crew Quarters, Storage and a Tractor Beam. You are provided with a certain amount of resources at the start, later those resources have to be salvaged for further upgrades.
New Game Mission selection screen
Space Ship construction screen
The very small "Huge Galaxies"...
You will be playing a random clone on the ship that is promoted to captain. In case this clone dies, your conscience will be transfered into a remaining, living clone. Since I spawened on the bridge, I'll have a look at the quadrant map. The developer promised a "huge randomised galaxy". So let's have a look at 2 Galaxy Terminal Star Maps in 2 seperate games:
Galaxy 1 | 24x24 Squares | 99 Solar Systems
Galaxy 2 | 24x24 Squares | 97 Solar Systems
These galaxies have 24 squares and 90-100 solar systems. Let's compare it with our milky way. Scientists estimate tens of billions of solar systems. Well... that's huge! In game? I'd call it tiny.
Regarding gameplay the bulletpoints are:
Save and protect the DNA of humans and plants, enhance the DNA with alien DNA, find the glorious new earth. Now this is what you have to do in rinse and repeat mode from now on:
1) Scan all the debris and planets in the solar system. Extract materials from debris with the tractor beam, extract materials from planets with the harvester in the hangar.
2) Plant and maintain the Greenhouse. This is where your air is coming from. You can collect new plants on planets.
3) Protect the ship. - Sometimes when using the Tractor Beam on the debris, aliens will be transported on board.
4) Upgrade the ship with the resources you have gathered, build defenses
5) Find the new earth.
This is quite a drag if you don't have enough materials to build a Hangar or a Deposit Storage you will stand a lot in the Tractor Beam Module and just manually extract resources. Same with planetary missions. Materials from there will have to be refined in the Refinery. If you want it to be done quickly, do it yourself. Otherwise your crew can do it but they go on breaks (take their time). Every module has one of those speedup terminals.
If you go on planetary missions, you're only able to gather materials around the ship. The ship has some sort of shield globe around it. If you cross the border of the globe, you'll get a message that you can't survive in this environment...
This sounds easy but you have to get the plants first to produce more air for your people. The only way to get plants (with various attributes to the environment that are not explained) is to collect them from other planets by using the Hangar's Harvester. At first I thought you can go and clone one of the ferns in the Clone Lab but that didn't work. If the plants die, you die. As simple as that.
If one of your crew member dies, you can make a new one in the clone lab. You can always make a human for 5 Biomass (that you get from killing aliens sometimes). Aliens sometimes drop DNA information. If you have collected enough of those, you can put those benefits into cloning and eventually clone a Super Human Alien Hybrid.
Protect and upgrade the ship
The only aliens I encountered were coming in through the Tractor Beam Module or on planetary missions. They can be tiny worms or Hulk-like creatures that don't go down that easily. At the beginning, one or two turrets are fine to protect the Tractor Beam. But if one of them escapes into the ship's underfloor tunnels, they can build nests and then it gets pretty ugly to clean those up.
If you manage to survive the attacks, put those resources into the ship. Make it stronger, build extra modules, etc.
Disappointment. Seriously guys. You hyped it up and thought you'd get away with it!
You can't write phrases like "Roguelike on an Epic Scale", "huge *cough* randomised galaxy", "deal with terrifying *cough* alien infestations" (btw *coughs* are added by me). NO, it's not on an Epic Scale. Epic is something that is important, lasting and complex. This is not. NO it is not a HUGE galaxy (see above) and NO the alien encounters are not terrifying if you have played alien shooters before (e.g. Prey, Alien. THAT was scary.) Graphics are basic. Reminded me on Halflife 20 years back and the gameplay is awfully repetitive.
Please give it a go with some extra content, put some more details into the tutorial (explain the symbols, how to influence the air with plants, why are mushrooms growing on my ship?!!?, etc.). You have some time now for the Steam Store Release. Get going! I will have a look again then - maybe...