Even confined to a virtual environment, PAX is always a conduit for hype, and for this year’s PAX Online, there was hardly a studio I was more excited to check in with than The Behemoth. Even as someone whose childhood was partially defined by trying to beat the opening stages of Alien Hominid over and over, I can happily say that The Behemoth have evolved far beyond their Newgrounds origin. The team returning to their foundational IP with eighteen years of additional experience was an enticing offer. Having just played the demo for Alien Hominid Invasion, I am happy to report that the Alien Hominid formula is as insane as ever while promising a more refined experience that could end up being The Behemoth’s most accessible game yet.
It certainly feels like a culmination of The Behemoth’s previous titles. The Metal Slug-indebted, run-and-gun gameplay of Alien Hominid, the XP and upgrade system of Castle Crashers, and the nimble movement of BattleBlock Theater shine through complete and utter chaos. In contrast to the original Alien Hominid, where you always progressed left-to-right through the same series of setpieces, Invasion frees you to maneuver all around its procedurally generated mayhem. Your task is to collect intel from the FBI agents that flood the screen by virtue of dodging their fire and returning it tenfold. A few well-timed laser blasts decimate a mob of enemies and bring you closer to the finish line. Alien Hominid Invasion chiefly contrasts its predecessor in its punched-up stage design rather than gameplay.
With that in mind, Alien Hominid Invasion counteracts the simplicity of combat encounters with sheer enemy quantity. Progressing a bit like a run-and-gun Rampage, enemies spawn from all sides in gradually tougher waves. The more you destroy in quick succession, the better you can avoid the helicopters and agents with jetpacks eventually firing upon you. This encourages a speed-run-like mentality that fits perfectly into the twitch shooting inherent to Alien Hominid. In contrast to the original’s infamously sadistic difficulty, Invasion gives players ample progression opportunities. Enemies are always encroaching but never become overwhelming, despite arriving in much larger waves than the game’s predecessor. Despite my personal affinity for it, I wouldn’t exactly call the original Alien Hominid rewarding. The methodical difficulty curve present here is far superior.
With an intricate upgrade and character customization system, players are meant to be playing Alien Hominid Invasion for the long haul. Unlike the arcadey setup of the original game, where a two-hour length was buffered with punishing difficulty, I could see myself logging tens of hours into Invasion. With incredibly agile movement, enticingly vulgar visuals, and a greater emphasis on player progression, the only hangup I have with Invasion is a potential lack of variety. Up until a closing boss battle pitted me against a stronger airborne menace, each stage I played in Invasion revolved around the same core objectives: collecting data, annihilating agents, and destroying technology as fast as I could. A greater objective variety would allow Invasion to transcend its Neo Geo influences, but then again, how many run-and-guns allow you to ride the head of an FBI agent like a bucking bronco.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Alien Hominid Invasion, and though its release date is as of now a mystery, the game is already a blast that is merely in need of more content. Long-term fans will be pleased to hear that the game features The Behemoth operating at peak idiosyncrasy (including in-universe crossovers with their other games), and those interested in modernized run-and-gun action ought to keep their eye on the title. Alien Hominid Invasion will eventually be available for PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
Enjoys paying less than 20 dollars for a game, especially when it is one people have forgotten about. Wants to be a character in the next Jet Set Radio and hopes you enjoy the site. Has a pet rabbit he nurtures and takes photos of. Still pushing for a Stuntman Ignition remaster 11 years later. Still hasn’t played Fortnite.