Some of the most interesting games are those that take familiar genres and mash them together in ways you might not expect. Imagine my surprise when I sit down to demo Genesis Alpha One and find out that it’s a roguelike first-person shooter ship builder. Yeah, the crazy look I’m imagining on your face is exactly what I was feeling. It’s a clashing of genres unlike any other that creates a game with a fascinating premise and gameplay loop.
Upon starting the game, you select a faction and receive a randomly generated crew, a new ship, and a procedural galaxy map. The massive grid showed a ton of sectors, each with a number of planets to visit and mine for resources. I know, this is sounding similar to another recent space travel title, but bear with me for a moment. The next part they showed me was building your ship. This switches things to an external builder style view, allowing you to place different rooms (called modules) needed for your ship to survive in deep space and hallways that connect them. The moment you place a module or hallway, you can instantly jump back to first person view and explore your new ship.
The ship is fully customizable, so you can change the color of your hallways (a beautiful magenta color was selected for my demonstration), as well as naming each of the modules at the doorway, so maybe hydroponics has a scrolling sign above the door that reads “Chandy’s Treehouse” or something else much more clever than I can think of at the moment. It’s all a fun way to make your ship your own, and the visuals of the modules will change depending on which faction you chose to start out. You will then need to assign members of your crew to work in each of the modules, and in this way, it is very much like a city builder, except that your city is a spaceship. Adding modules and workers will gain you additional resources to further your goal of galactic and planetary exploration.
Set Phasers From Stun to Kill
Assigning a couple of crew to a dropship, they sent them to the closest planet to explore for resources. Planets on the galactic map have various ratings that will determine the resources you can get from them, as well as the threat level they pose. When the crew returned they brought back an alien menace, bugs that began spreading an infection similar to Zerg creep from Starcraft. We were waiting in the hangar though, and the first-person shooting came into quick play as we turned the bugs into splatters. We even had to chase after one that had made its home in a vent, a very Alien-like experience. While they weren’t ready to show it off, it is possible to go down to the planets yourself to assist in the gathering of resources and eliminating of threats there, so the shooting will take place on more than just the ship.
Suddenly the ship shuddered as if we were under attack. Backing out to our ship map, we were able to see one of our hallways severely damaged in what appeared to be an asteroid field. We made a run for the damaged portion of the ship and emerged from the airlock into the broken hallway. It was at this moment that another asteroid hit the ship and caused us to go careening off into space, lost forever to the void.
The game wasn’t over yet, but neither did we revive as the same character. Instead, another crew member was promoted to captain and we became him. If we were to lose all of our crew, then it would be game over. Cloning tech allows you to bring new crew members to life aboard your ship with a variety of abilities, and the one we became actually saw the world in a different visible light spectrum because of his alien background.
Genesis Alpha One (which is hilariously three words that each mean basically the same thing) looks like one of the greatest genre-melding adventures that we could ask for. Fulfilling the fantasy of building your own ship and managing your crew while exploring the wider galaxy is something that science-fiction fans have been dreaming about since before the original Star Trek. Now we can finally take up the helm and boldly go, bravely fight, and beautifully build where, who, and what no man has gone, fought, or built before. And if you die on the way? Well, there’s always your first mate to back you up.
Genesis Alpha One Does not yet have a release date for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out all of our E3 2017 coverage.