Attack of the Earthlings is a turn-based strategy with a familiar, yet welcome premise: an evil corporation has landed on an alien world to harvest all the delicious resources it has to offer. Only the local inhabitants aren’t too happy with these unwanted visitors, so they take matters into their own hands (or is it claws?) to deal with the problem. Through tongue-in-cheek humor, crashed birthday parties, and digestible enemies you’ll make your way through various level by employing a combination of strategy and action-friendly clicking.
I can take or leave most turn-based strategy games, but Attack of the Earthlings kept me engaged throughout its campaign thanks to its hilarious sense of humor and shlocky B-movie horror sensibilities. It had me laughing aloud and other times hyper-focused on moving a party of aliens down a hallway to takeout a group of hapless soldiers.
Playing the “bad guy” is nearly always more interesting than playing the traditional “hero”, and that’s a huge draw here. You’ll begin with the Matriarch, the only unit who can spawn “grunts”, smaller aliens that serve as your soldiers throughout each level. Grunts are small enough to hide in the vents where they can access other areas while bypassing humans. You can choose to stealthily sneak around guards before leaping for a sneak attack or go in hot, claws-bared and hope not to get blasted to bits.
There’s a nice variety of aliens at your disposal to help rid your world of the human menace: stalkers can sneak through the vents and pierce armor, spitters attack from a distance, or the apelike tanks who can armor up each round to protect other units. The only limit is how much Bio Mass you obtain and how you want to conduct your aliens in their quest to eradicate the human ‘guests’ on your precious planet.
Stealth is recommended if you don’t want to lose scores of your various grunts, guards pro trolling each level. You’ll have to play it smart by getting rid of bodies so you don’t alert other humans in the vicinity, which means having your matriarch or a grunt devour the corpse. Yes, it’s gross but effective as devouring corpses grants you “Bio Mass”, an in-game currency that you can spend to spawn more grunts or upgrade your existing aliens into other units that with more powers and abilities.
Levels are pretty basic in their layout; imagine industrial environments with sci-fi elements tossed in for good measure. My first opponents were civilians in hard hats who would diligently check the status of their ship or bent over doing repairs. Too bad for them! Guards presented a bigger threat as they would aggressively shoot spotted aliens, usually killing a grunt in one hit. As I made my way to higher levels my opponents became stronger, pushing me into using advanced tactics like organizing attack parties for certain enemies. When heavily armored guards with more health were introduced I had to coordinate attacks using multiple aliens on one enemy just to take one out.
The only awkward design choice was how the fixed-perspective camera sometimes obscured my field of vision – and my soldiers. I had the option of moving right and left, zooming in and out, but not with full range of motion. The fixed perspectives made it difficult to keep track of the aliens I had scattered across each level since the environments get bigger and bigger as you progress. With no option to keep track of my aliens either except for moving the camera around and making sure they were in my line of sight it’s easy to lose track of units.
I wish there was an option or mechanic to group aliens into parties or a way to click through them rapidly so I’m not spending a third of my time moving around the board or adjusting the camera because an alien was hidden by a wall that prevents me from clicking on it.
Attack of the Earthlings doesn’t bring anything particularly new or innovative to the world of turn-based strategies, but it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it either. Frustrating camera angles and keeping track of units aside, it provides a decent challenge that’s also hilarious. Conducting raids on a human crew, devouring corpses, and converting their Bio Mass into more aliens for my army has a certain charm I can’t quite shake. I may have to re-think my career choices after everything is said and done.