The only thing that ever comes From Space is evil aliens, so let’s use this shameless pun as the kicker for this review and see what the new title from Curve Games is all about. A top-down solo or co-op twin-stick shooter, there’s a lot of fun and mayhem to be had while saving the world from sponge-like bubblegum extraterrestrials with sharp teeth, but humanity may end up doomed by their sheer lack of inventory space and inability to spot the more dangerous creatures amidst the chaos.
When Pink Marshmallows Attack
From Space seems to be a revamped version of Triangle Studios’ previous game, It Came from Space and Ate Our Brains. The pink bubblegum enemies, four-player co-op option, and garish colors give this away, although it’s not clearly mentioned in any of the official press blurb – and it doesn’t have to be. A better way to describe this shooter is to see it as a cartoony version of Housemarque’s Alienation, retaining all the flashy effects and colors, as well as the chaotic shooting and gadgets. Don’t let the cute playable characters known as Specialists deceive you – they bring the big guns to the fight… or at least they will soon enough, after starting with their puny pistols.
You begin by picking one of six different classes, or Specialists, each one with a suitable weapon type, unique stats, perks, and gadgets. From tanks to support and ranged, among others, there’s enough diversity to arrange a balanced squad. If you’re playing solo, you can switch between them in a Safe Zone and their level progression is shared.
Combining different specializations in multiplayer is what makes the game feel captivating, but ultimately From Space seems to fall under the “low player base” category, making it hard to assemble a team, despite the recent update introducing multiplayer lobbies – at launch, the game only supported co-op with players from your Steam friends list. Worse still, there’s no local co-op option, so you are limited to finding a few teammates online, a task that can be almost as daunting as taking out one of the map bosses alone.
The maps are well-designed and surprisingly vast, with a concept that seems to favor freedom, but this is in fact an illusion – with color-coded keycards and gate levers, you are mostly going down a unique path until you unlock the shortcut that will spare you a long walk back. There are many obstacles and resources to spice up the close-quarter battles, with exploding cars, trucks, and flammable items that you can use to help you out, but the environmental damage could have gone just another step further – unbreakable office windows are somewhat disheartening, as you wait for the aliens to line up and walk through the door, right into your line of fire.
The missions will require a itchy trigger finger, but you have some diversity to the meat and bones. Escorting an NPC to a certain destination is a regular, reviving it as needed since they are as brainless as they come, or activating a trigger to move on are just a few examples.
A Certain Shade of Pink
Combat is entertaining and often frantic, with a deluge of catchy visual effects and an abuse of neon purple and green colors that may or may not be entirely to your liking – the game does look good though, except when it gets so hectic, you must make a run to a safer area. Combining your firepower with gadgets such as turrets, barbed wire fences or grenades will often be required, but selecting and deploying one in the heat of battle isn’t entirely intuitive – a safer strategy is to have your favorite ready to use, with the turret being a go-to gadget.
But the worst part about From Space is the unnecessarily tight leash on the inventory. I’d call it strangling even, as the slot limitation is so prominent. You do get extra slots as you level up, but this is so slow that you’re bound to see “inventory full” or “ammo type full” every other minute. Even if you have a stash in your Safe Zone, for a game where loot is so frequent, this is an annoying limitation that would be understandable if this was the kind of free-to-play game where you can buy slots for real cash… but it isn’t.
Checkpoints are restricted to Safe Zones or prior to a boss fight. In theory, this isn’t an issue, but some missions can be quite lengthy and dying before being able to save progress will frustrate players quite a bit.
Another concern is how all the alien invaders look alike. Despite the different units and occasional size fluctuations, in the middle of the action it’s difficult to tell a hopper from your average enemy. They are all designed in this garish neon pink and the slight variances can be hard to spot – perhaps some subtle changes in color could have helped in this aspect, making the player feel more confident in his approach during the most intense battles.
Run and Gum
Despite all the above, From Space is an enjoyable shooter both in solo and co-op. It looks good, it’s entertaining and mechanically sound, but the inventory limit issue rears its ugly head at every turn possible. A game filled with loot that you have to mostly ignore can be annoying, so there should be some sort of behind-the-scenes balance for solo players.
If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll have a good time with it. From Space is easy to get into and when you notice, hours may have gone by. You could do a lot worse with your time than shooting these pink marshmallows, even if sometimes you must curse the skies as you furiously leave another loot drop behind.
- Entertaining shooter gameplay
- Garish but occasionally beautiful graphics
- Chaotic four-player action
- Handicapping inventory limits
- Enemies are hard to differentiate