There are a few things that my time with ABG has taught me.
- One, Americans are a lot easier to wind up then I had actually believed.
- Two, Canadians are super cool and just as witty as us Brits (Hi Mike).
- And three, I found out I enjoy rogue-lite games and twin-stick-shooters. Something I never knew until this website. Go figure.
It’s that last point that is key though. My most recent review has been for It came from space and ate our brains, a twin-stick, arcade alien shooter. The title is a mouthful, but the gameplay sure isn’t. And, what’s more, I actually enjoyed this one! “Yay”, you’ll all be thinking to yourselves.
So, without further ado, we best get on with this review before our tasty brains turn to mush.
GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH
The concept of an arcade shooter might be leaving a few connotations in your mind: easy, predictable, colourful, loud, so on and so forth. And I can agree with you, they are all of those things (most of the time). That doesn’t mean they’re boring or dull, however.
And It came from space and ate our brains (I’ll shorten that to “It” from here on out) is certainly not boring or dull.
Mixing the usual array of gameplay mechanics with the usual repertoire of guns, It makes full use of the genre’s conventions:
You control one of several humans who have to fight their way through an alien invasion. You get control of a pistol (at first) but can choose to upgrade or purchase a different weapon as you go along. There’s a choice of six different weapons, from a pistol to an SMG, to a shotgun, to an alien rifle.
Each one performs a little differently.
The SMG, for example, is great at dishing out a lot of bullets at once to cover a lot of enemies. However, it won’t cause as much damage as the Bazooka would. But then, the Bazooka isn’t as accurate as the Pistol, and so on and so forth.
Therefore, a sense of choosing the right weapon for the job comes into play quickly.
But then, as you progress through the six levels, you’ll find it doesn’t really matter. You’ll earn enough coins to fully upgrade at least one weapon which will help bring Hellfire down on your other-worldly attackers.
Can You Keep it Down? Some People Live Here!
The aliens themselves pose varying degrees of threat. The first aliens are simple organisms that require a couple of shots.
My least favourite alien (well, of the earliest ones) is definitely the “Pants Alien”. They aren’t exactly tough or anything, but they have a nasty habit of moving out of your torch’s light.
And your torch’s direction just so happens to be the direction in which you’re firing. Therefore, if something isn’t in that beam of light, they aren’t getting shot. Sounds petty, I know, but when you’ve got dozens of other aliens to contend with and a series of level one weapons, the little buggers can be a right nuisance.
Not a complaint, just an annoyance. Bloody little things they are. If we ever get invaded by aliens, and these things are a part of the armada, please don’t let them near me. I’ll end up losing my shit at them.
Now That’s A Face for Radio!
Unlike some other twin-stick shooters, you don’t have a set ammo limit. Sure, you can’t fire the Bazooka like it’s an automatic, but you don’t need to pick up more ammo, either. Instead, the pick-ups you find come in the form of Mystery Boxes.
No, these aren’t like EA’s “Surprise Mechanics”.
You shoot some of the landscape’s more destructible items (air-vents on the roof level, for example) until they blow up. There’s a chance that the item will hold a different coloured box: a blue one, a yellow one, and a purple one.
The blue one will give you a power-up. This can be a medi-pack to restore one hit of health: a group of mines that you can place at any given moment: or a cluster of beams that swing around you causing impact damage to any aliens dumb enough to come close to you. The catch is, you can only hold one of these items at any time. So, if you’re full-up on health but have just picked up a medi-pack, you either save it for later or use it now in vain and hope to get something else next time.
The yellow boxes are simply gold, the game’s currency. Collect enough of it and you can purchase new weapons or upgrade the ones you already have. Obviously, the higher the upgrade, the higher the cost. But, you also get gold from killing aliens, so you should build up enough to have a nice little stockade of guns.
And finally, the purple boxes offer you something extra sweet. For a brief window of time, you’ll have access to a fully upgraded random weapon. This could be any of the six available to you. You’ll only have a very short window of opportunity to lay waste with one of these WMDs, so you best make them count!
Die Like A Badass…
The levels in It aren’t the longest I’ve experienced in a twin-stick, but they are long enough to allow you to build up enough gold. And long-enough to have fun without it becoming repetitive.
Gold, by the way, does not carry over to the next level. Use it or lose it, baby! Same with the weapons. Doesn’t matter if you’ve maxed out every weapon by the level’s boss, you won’t have it come level two.
But there’s the fun in it. You get to do it all over again with a new horde of gloopy alien menaces.
As for those aforementioned bosses, the levels take you through a series of environments before being met by the Alien egg/crashlanded spaceship. (I think they’re eggs. It can be hard to tell when you’re running around trying to shoot everything that glows pink).
When you get to the ‘egg’ – which acts as the boss – you’ll need to destroy it. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as the mass of aliens coming at you increases as you damage it more.
However, eventually, you’ll blow it up, finish the level, and rack up a nice score along the way. Then, you start the next level and do it all over again.
…And Set a Sweet Highscore in the Process
Aesthetically, It doesn’t change the game.
It won’t win “Best Looking Game” in any awards ceremony. However, it does have a veneer that just…works. The characters are blocky, almost Voxel, and there’s a certain amount of 8-bit charm to the weaponry.
The aliens have a distinct pinky-purple glow to them (handier to see in the dark), and move in pleasing ways. Some look like octopi (or octopuses, either is acceptable) or maybe squids. Some look like hulking big liquid bear things. And then we have those infernal Pants Aliens.
GO AWAY! Sorry.
The music is what you would expect – a sense of danger looms, eerie noises can be heard all around you. And the times when you aren’t shooting hordes become genuinely nerve-wracking.
It’s the classic case of “it’s quiet, too quiet”. Lulled into a false sense of security, you’re met by a new type of alien (GO AWAY, PANTS!) and a new attack pattern to differentiate between.
However, all this being told, It is not a hard game. If you’ve had experience with a twin-stick, you’ll know what to do.
Controls are easy to pick up, the pacing is spot-on, and the difficulty is apt. You’ll amuse yourself at getting through hordes of aliens alone, or have an even better time with a few mates involved.
The perfect recipe for when we’re not all being told to consider self-isolation for a number of weeks. Boy, that line won’t age well when you know what is all over with.
It came from space and ate our brains was reviewed on Xbox One. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam. For more information, check out It‘s website. Or, if you fancy sticking around ABG a little while’s longer, why scope out one of our other great Reviews? We’ve got plenty of them to go through!
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It came from space and ate our brains - Xbox One Review
- Overall - 7.5/107.5/10
A classic mix of arcade-y shooting mechanics, colourful enemies, and the right amount of difficulty makes “It came from space and ate our brains” a wonderful way to waste a couple of hours. Great on your own, even better with friends, the couch co-op “It” provides is a nice nod to simpler times when we didn’t have to be linked up to the internet to play with our friends. The graphics, whilst not the most ground-breaking, are suitable and do the job.
+ Easy to pick up controls
+ Fun frolics with friends
+ Simple to grasp concepts
+ Replayability (presuming you can be bothered with the same six levels)
+ Tried and true formula
— Won’t set the gaming world alight
— Gameplay can be repetitive after long-stretches at a time
— If you don’t like shooting aliens, you won’t enjoy this game
— Likewise, if you’re an alien (especially of the PANTS variety), you’ll hate this game
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.