Is Aliens: Dark Descent Worth It? Review

Is Aliens: Dark Descent Worth It? Review

Aliens: Dark Descent is a single-player tactical strategy game set in the famous Alien universe. There was no hype for it before launch so it kind of popped out of nowhere. It offers real-time combat with the ability to slow down and pause to analyze the environment.

It has a story based on the concept of 90s Aliens. Writing is not good and feels like an afterthought. The story is average with little to offer in terms of depth and fun. Story arcs are perfectly managed and give a good reason for the situations players are in. The game delivers the feeling of being hunted by Xenomorphs. The lighting and general feel of the game provide a decent gameplay experience.

There are marines, crazy cultists, and deadly Xenomorphs. It mixes different ideas from different genres and creates a single-player strategy experience. Squad management is an important part of the game and makes it interesting. All this makes you wonder Is Aliens: Dark Descent worth it? Let’s find out.

Story and Setting

The story is a letdown but it does start off great. It slowly builds the tension and throws you into a long tutorial mission. The tutorial is long and can have a negative impact that can cause burnout before players reach the good part of the game. It is long and badly paced that takes too long to do anything interesting. After the tutorial, the game opens up well but most of the plot feels like a waste of good ideas.

It does not go into detail about the idea of Xenomorphs living alongside humans. The story mostly stays in the background and does not contribute much to the overall experience. It mostly feels like another retelling of the story that we have seen in the Aliens movies.


Aliens: Dark Descent has a layered system of customization and action. Customization takes place in the base of operation ship called Otago. Throughout the game, you gain access to different parts of the ship that lets you customize stuff and outfit more marines for combat. The base of operation shares similarities with other games having customization mechanics. There are Seven different areas which include Barracks, Training Room, Work Shop, Command Deck, Medical Bay, Psychiatric Care Unit, and Laboratory.


The barracks are the main roaster of the marines on the ship. You can look at any marine and analyze them. You can look at their abilities, equipment, and everything else that they offer. It enables you to change their gear depending on level and class. Each marine will have three different types of attributes. These attributes offer passive buffs such as class and upgrades. Barracks are one of the main sources of improvement for your character in Aliens: Dark Descent.

Training Room

Training Room can level up marines passively alongside four active marines. There is the option of letting your character go through an intensive training regiment that allows you to gain XP at a higher rate. It is a good system that lets you get marines up to pace before deploying them.


Workshops will let you unlock new weapons by spending more materials besides the basic weapons such as pulse rifles and pistols. Using a weapon requires the right material and soldier. Marines need to have a specific class and level like sniper and the iconic Smartgun. You have to consider the class of a soldier when leveling up after completing a mission.

Command Deck

Command Deck lets you know the status of marines and the capacity of various workstations on the ship. If you forget to assign someone to a role then Command Deck can be used to do so. Command Deck shows the ship from a decent angle and it is the only area to do so.

Medical Bay

Medical Bay is an important part of the game. Soldiers that get wounded in combat are sent here to recover. Assigning a physician cuts the number of days a marine is out of combat. Any soldier wounded in combat would need to spend time in the Med Bay. Serious injuries result in imputation and prosthetic procedures.

Psychiatric Care unit

The Psychiatric Care unit is needed by the soldiers to recover from the horror of combat. It removes trauma from marines as Aliens: Dark Descent has a fear system that applies passive debuffs depending on the level of trauma.


Laboratory lets you exchange Xenomorphs samples for powerful squad-based buffs and abilities. Xenomorph samples are random and can be found on dead Xenomorphs. It is important to keep an eye out for them as they offer some of the most powerful abilities and buffs.

There is a decent amount of balance between different modes of customization. The loop revolves around upgrading troops, unlocking weapons, and managing their trauma along with other things. Otago becomes a home and a good break from the action. Customization and going through ship offers a good side hustle besides combat.


Marines are deployed from the command deck. It offers a linear experience so you only have one mission active at times. You can always return to the previous map if you want to make it 100%. Each area is a maze with buildings with alleys, and caves to transverse. The map size is decent which makes it a good experience.

You have to move from one part to another as you complete primary and secondary objectives. Maps have multiple primary objectives and you can go back to ship any time to regroup and try again. Aliens: Dark Descent wants you to progress at your own pace.

The Fear Factor

The moment-to-moment gameplay makes it different than other such games. Just like in the Aliens movies, you never feel safe. Attacks from cultists and aliens can come at any moment. An enemy might be lurking at the corner just when you get a breathing space. All the marines in a group move as a single unit. It can be annoying or good depending on how you look at it.

Marines have a radar system that lets you know about a threat at a decent distance. Once you see enemies on the radar, you can take action to them or they can bring the action to you. Radar plays a major role in how you approach combat.

Once you are detected, you become hunted which means that enemies will constantly hunt your squad until the timer runs out. It is a good way for the game to keep pressure on you. The faster you move through a mission the easier it is to complete.

Turning in the narrow hallways and creeping through intersections is a major part of the game. Even after playing Aliens: Dark Descent for hours, it will keep you on edge. The threat of a runner coming at you is always there and it keeps things interesting all in real time.


Combat is intense and can be challenging at times depending on the selected difficulty. Once you select a difficulty you cannot change it in mid-game. You have limited command points at your disposal. Command points dictate your special ability usage. It does regenerate over time but it is crucial to consider when to use these points because special abilities can make a huge difference.

When you lose a soldier then it is gone and there is no way to get them back. There are mechanics of Xenomorphs abducting marines which gives you a chance to save them before they are gone. The permanent loss of marines adds pressure which incentivizes you to keep the squad full.

The major part of Aliens: Dark Descent is the slow-motion system. You can slow down the action or even pause it to analyze the environment and act accordingly. The slow-motion system lets you command marines in an intense situation without worrying about getting overwhelmed. You can unleash special abilities such as shotgun blasts, grenade launchers, and things like that without worrying about controlling your marines. Slow motion is a game-changer that makes the game a lot more fun.

Once you have an understanding of your actions the game becomes more enjoyable. As you move from one part to another, take down enemies, and gain XP to finish each objective, you will also gain more resources. Depending on the difficulty your experience of Aliens: Dark Descent might be different.

General Gameplay

Aliens: Dark Descent truly shines when you are tackling challenges. There is a lot to consider when using weapons or managing trauma levels. It’s important to keep the trauma level of your squad low or else they will develop negative traits.

Rather than a mission, the game gives you maps to explore. Each level has an objective that can be completed in any order. Any changes that you make to the map such as blockades, or Welding door shut will remain on the map. After being spotted you will not only need to hide but find an escape route as well. It encourages you to learn large maps which makes escape easier. Fights can occur anytime so you have to stay vigilant.

Aliens: Dark Descent looks good both in cut scenes and in gameplay. The environment is detailed and everything looks good even when you zoom in. Lighting plays a huge role in the overall feel of the game. It not only sheds light on enemies but also creates a tense environment. The vibe that the light from the flashlight creates is interesting, to say the least.


Aliens: Dark Descent of a good game that is challenging and engaging whether you are a fan of the Aliens franchise or not. For the Fans of the universe, the game is an absolute treat. From the beginning of the game, you will feel like you are playing an Alien game. It is a unique take on the Alien universe that has never been done before.

Despite being a tactical strategy game, Aliens: Dark Descent feels more like a survival horror game. Flashlight plays a huge role in conveying the feeling of survival horror experience. Even though it is a single-player game, one should not expect much from it for its story. The story is a letdown and does not add much to the overall experience.

The core gameplay is a combination of horror, survival, stealth, and strategy. It is a unique take on the world of Aliens that let you experience the work in a new light. It is a good game if you are looking for a strategy game with decent mechanics.

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