It Came From Space and Ate Our Brains: Remastered Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Many popular works of science fiction have centered around stories of human kind and extraterrestrials forming mutually beneficial relationships or otherwise finding ways to peacefully coexist. As you might’ve guessed from the title, that is not the case in this game.
It Came From Space and Ate Our Brains is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. It is a remastered version of a title developed by Triangle Studios and originally released in 2015. Upon starting the campaign you will find yourself immediately thrust into the middle of an alien invasion with two primary goals: repel an absolutely massive horde of magenta-colored aliens whilst simultaneously preventing your (presumably delicious) brains from becoming their snack.
The action takes place from an isometric perspective and has you (and up to three friends via split-screen multiplayer) fight either through several different stages in the campaign mode, or in a single map against infinite waves of enemy spawns in survival mode. The controls will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has previously played a twin stick shooter – left analog to move through the environment and evade enemies, right stick to aim, right trigger to shoot and left trigger to activate a short sprint to help you get out of a jam if you find yourself being surrounded by enemies.
Any hero tasked with defending their planet is going to need a decent arsenal, and It Came From Space and Ate Our Brains certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. You’ve got a total of six different guns at your disposal, although you’ll only have access to a basic handgun at the start of each level. By dispatching enemies and destroying crates, barrels, and other items scattered throughout the map you’ll quickly build up enough credits to unlock more weapons and/or upgrade those which are already in your possession.
In addition to finding credits, the destructible containers in each level can also provide you with one of four different consumable power-ups to keep the mobs at bay, along with med kits and and temporary upgrades for one of the six guns. Careful management of these power-ups and gun upgrades will be key to your success, and becomes especially critical in the later areas of the game where the difficulty increases significantly.
The game starts on the rooftops in the middle of a city and winds through quite a few well-varied environments before ultimately taking us to the hive of these neon invaders for a final showdown. These environments all have their own distinct characteristics and scripted sequences in the background to show the player the world is succumbing to the invasion and provide a sense of urgency. These little touches of detail do an excellent job of keeping everything feeling fresh.
Case in point:, just as I was beginning to feel like I’d never escape the labyrinthine hospital level after spending nearly half an hour cautiously picking my way through it’s cramped corridors I reached the end of the stage and destroyed a giant alien egg before smoothly transitioning to the next area. As a result, the game play flows quite nicely and I found it shockingly easy to lose track of time while I gleefully blasted wave after wave of pink aliens.
Although the palette of the majority of these areas is predominantly gray, the excellent dynamic lighting effects and the bright neon colors of the protagonist, enemies, and weapon projectiles work extremely well together to give the voxel-based graphics a visual flair that really sets the game apart. It provides a lot of spectacle without being overly chaotic, and I never lost sight of my character amidst the fray even when there were tons of enemies and projectiles on screen.
The sounds effects are also quite nice and detailed, with each gun throughout each upgrade tree having different sounds when fired. They even echo rather realistically in certain confined spaces like bathrooms, which I felt was a nice touch. The various enemy and environmental sounds also helped build atmosphere, though I felt the music in a few of the areas seemed a bit lacking by comparison to the rest of the game’s excellent visual aesthetic.
In all, It Came From Space and Ate Our Brains was a really engaging title throughout, and once I started the campaign I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of the game highlights its only other real downside - length. It's certainly not the longest title in the world and the campaign only took me five or six hours to beat on medium difficulty. Staring at the victory screen after the game's final showdown was bittersweet, as the entire experience up to that point was so good that I was left wanting more.
Not all is lost though, as there's still the survival mode which I've already spent a few extra hours on, as well as a couple of harder difficulty settings to complete in the main campaign. Couch co-op is a welcome inclusion and definitely adds value, though some may find an issue with the lack of any online game modes offered.