You might not be familiar with it, but Alien Hominid has quite a history. Starting as a simple one-level Flash demo on Newgrounds, it became the first commercial release by The Behemoth. This game followed the journeys of an alien fighting to return to his home planet, armed with nothing more than a retro sci-fi energy blaster and a set of jaws strong enough to sever a human spinal column.
Alien Hominid was promptly followed by Castle Crashers, a game that sold better than most AAA titles, so I can't blame anyone for forgetting the little alien that could. For many years, it seemed like even The Behemoth had forgotten about him. But lo! On the same day that the HD port of the original Alien Hominid finally hits Steam, we're also getting Alien Hominid Invasion, the long-awaited sequel, which is a co-op journey of revenge across a planet that's become a lot harder to conquer since the last jaunt.
So grab some friends and let the invasion commence.
The story as we know it is thus: In 2004, the United States government shot down a small extraterrestrial vehicle that was passing near Earth's atmosphere. The pilot of that craft - a small yellow humanoid with a wicked underbite - survived the crash and set off on a globetrotting adventure to recover his craft and return home. With a bit of assistance from some other aliens and a small group of ice cream-obsessed kids, he managed to recover the vehicle, taking his new friends with him.
But there was another part to the story, one that no one knew about. When the ship took fire, it automatically sent a distress signal back to the pilot's home planet. Upon receiving that signal, the alien's fellow hominids dispatched a computer-controlled mothership on a 19-year mission to Earth. The goal: To punish the species that had attacked them.
In 2023, that ship reached its destination. Where there was once just one alien, now there is an entire army - churned out endlessly by a mutagen-powered biological extruder located aboard the mothership. But in those two decades, the forces of humanity have also stepped up their game with new weapons and meaner agents.
The invasion has begun. Which side will win? That's up to you.
The original Alien Hominid was a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Metal Slug or Contra. Invasion is mechanically similar, but with a completely different design principle. Rather than linear levels, each city block is free-roaming with objectives that must be completed to advance.
In most areas, the initial objective is to collect intel by defeating enemy agents and deliver it to the mothership via a cutting-edge alien fax machine. After a few seconds, the mothership will dispense a mission. There's a fairly wide variety of possible missions - killing specific enemies, moving an object from point A to point B while avoiding damage, rescuing captive allies, or surviving a massive wave of a certain enemy type. Completing a particular number of missions lets the player advance to the next block.
The ultimate objective in each city is to reach a government facility at the top of the map, but the player has a lot of agency in how to reach that facility. A straight line is the fastest, but it may mean missing out on bonuses or fighting through needlessly difficult areas. Power players may prefer a more indirect route to maximize upgrades, but the enemies get harder with each completed block.
There's a bit of looter shooter DNA in Alien Hominid Invasion. Completing levels and redeeming loot found throughout the city unlocks new weapons and upgrades. The player also earns money, which can be spent at safehouses provided by the kids (who have also stepped up their game in the past two decades). Depending on the game mode, the player may or may not be entitled to keep all that gear after dying.
And death will come in Invasion. The aliens don't die in one hit anymore, but there are also many more enemies and hazards to contend with - and that's even before coming to the bosses. They will be familiar to anyone who played the original Alien Hominid, but those end-of-level baddies have been seriously juiced up since their 2000s incarnations, with new attacks and a lot more health.
Like many games with roguelike elements, Alien Hominid Invasion has a killer difficulty curve. It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of confidence by the fairly easy opening levels and then get caught off guard when the game gets hard later on.
All of which makes it sensible to bring along some help.
You can absolutely play Alien Hominid Invasion by yourself, get a complete experience (which even includes a proper story), and reach the end. However, this is a game meant to be played co-op. Up to four aliens can join the attack at once, and if you're short a few the game will even spawn some CPU aliens from time to time just to maintain that invasion feel.
More aliens mean more firepower, but that isn't the only benefit that your teammates can offer. One alien can give another a ride, granting a boost in jump height and superior aiming while moving. The special abilities are also designed with team play in mind - for example, an alien sporting a temporary deflector shield can soak up damage for the squad while they focus on laying down carnage.
Alien Hominid Invasion is a game designed with co-op in mind. From personal experience, the lonely warrior is going to struggle against the massive waves of enemies that appear in the later areas. Do yourself a favor and make some friends before beginning your invasion - it'll make for quite a party night.
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