It came from space and ate our brains delivers a decent top-down twin stick shooter experience while remaining minimal in its design. Let’s jump right into the strengths and weaknesses of this unique game!
Players can choose between six campaign missions, but start with only the first. After you complete the mission, you will unlock the subsequent one. The difficulty grows progressively as you reach checkpoints, dubbed “safe houses,” and newly unlocked missions. The game starts with just one “type” of alien, a slug-shaped being with razor-sharp teeth, that follows you but has no special mechanics. You will be introduced to new, more difficult enemies like an arch-shaped alien that jitters around to avoid attacks and moves more quickly, and a giant version of the slug-shaped creature with much more health. There are a few safe houses to be reached in each mission, as well as one “boss” fight. These did not disappoint, especially in difficulty. You must destroy an “alien egg” while avoiding what feels like hundreds of enemies coming in from every side. You might find yourself growing familiar with the death screen…
While I do wish that the maps varied a bit more in design, I understand that the game is meant to feel like an arcade shooter and is not advertising its graphical qualities but rather its gameplay experience. I would say the same regarding the story, or lack thereof. While I do wish there was a clear plot within the campaign itself and not just in the game’s description, I am aware that many titles in the genre lack a clear story. The color scheme is, however, very appealing– especially for fans of retro games. There is a “neon” glow within every important element, and the strategically placed lighting perfectly counters the dark environment. Couple this with the Joy-Cons rumbling at the perfect moments, and you have quite an immersive experience for such a minimal design. Supply crates, enemies, and your ammunition are all colored accordingly, drawing your attention to key aspects of the game from materials to your aim. Within the supply crates you may come across money to upgrade or unlock new weapons, special abilities like a protective shield or turrets, and health kits (if you’re anything like me, you’ll be on the constant lookout for these).
You are given a choice of six guns– the standard pistol you start with, shotgun, machine gun, plasma gun, rocket launcher, and laser gun. Upon unlocking a new weapon, you gain the ability to upgrade it for a price (usually double or so the price you paid for the gun itself). I found these upgrades to be 100% worth it! They truly enhance your weapon’s ability, and are necessary as you progress if you want to put up a decent fight against the aliens. Something I really love about the upgrade system is that there is a “quick upgrade” button (Y) so that you don’t need to open the menu and hover over your weapon to buy your upgrade, potentially risking damage to health or death. Personal gun recommendation? The plasma gun! It packed quite the punch when fully upgraded. Another great feature about the weapon system is that you can try the other guns out for free upon opening random supply crates. For a short time upon picking one of these up from a crate, you are equipped with the upgraded version of whichever gun dropped. A great way to learn that the rocket launcher is really not as cool as I thought…
Survival mode is a good place to challenge yourself against hordes of enemies without the distance covered or alien eggs found in campaign levels. There are six rounds, or “waves,” that you need to survive before you complete the level and can move on to the newly unlocked one (much like the campaign). You can upgrade your weapon and buy new ones just as before, but items are now dropped by ships and ready for immediate pick-up as opposed to the less obvious supply crates in campaign that need to be shot open.
There isn’t much else to say about survival as it feels quite similar to campaign despite the slight aforementioned differences. I would say it is a good place to test your horde survival and alien-destroying abilities without any fuss over mechanics (e.g. the barriers that need to be broken, terminals needing activation, and alien eggs).
The cooperative mode is the greatest strength of the game. Team up with a friend or few and tear through those brain-eating aliens before they get to you! I tried this mode with my partner, and it soon became clear that not only is the It came from space experience enhanced if enjoyed alongside a companion, but I am much worse at top-down shooting than I thought.
Playing co-op feels much easier at first as you are no longer having to juggle with endless swarms of hungry extraterrestrials and tough barriers. However, the overpowered feeling that you get upon engaging against enemies with your friend fades as you learn that items available for collection throughout the levels (e.g. money and upgrades) are not shared. Money drops from alien deaths are also not shared, but will instead go to whichever player hit the enemy last. This means that your weapon upgrades should take you the same amount of time as they would in single-player mode, or longer as you may personally need to farm more enemies. The benefits do outweigh any disadvantages in co-op mode, though, as you tear through blockades without constant need to check behind your back for oncoming swarms. While co-op players cannot share everything, if one person comes across a health kit and decides to use it near others, everyone within the vicinity will receive the boost. I found the “boss” fights following each campaign to be much easier with more than one person as well, since one player is able to focus on tackling the objective (the high-health alien egg) while others maintain a more defensive position, taking down swarms. Another factor making the co-op experience feel a bit safer than going solo is the ability to revive fellow players. I would die, but my partner would be able to quickly bring me back and I would return with the majority of my health restored.
In both the campaign and survival mode, I would recommend co-op over single-player. There is an element of great humor and fun to be had within the shared experience that seems to not be present when playing solo. Some of the fights even seem to be geared toward parties of multiple people (the alien egg at the end of any campaign level, for instance).
Overall, I would definitely recommend It came from space as a time killer, especially if you are a fan of such genres or plan on playing with friends. If you want plot or depth, it isn’t the game for you. It is a decent shooter, and feels like a a good game to have in your library to pick up whenever you need to play something simple but fun. Co-op plays as a better and smoother experience in my opinion, but single-player has an appealing more challenge-oriented aspect to it and enough action to offer as a basic top-down shooting game.
Thank you to Triangle Studios for this review code. Please visit https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/it-came-from-space-and-ate-our-brains-switch/ for more information and to purchase this game for yourself.