Project Aftermath PC Review
Space is a particularly uninviting place, scientists will have you believe that it’s mainly empty, a dark lonely void. And with its constant expansion, there’s a lot more of that so called nothingness being created. Taking all that into account, we humans sure are lucky when it comes to stumbling across the most evil, disgusting and formidable creatures in the universe to start our intergalactic grudges with.
It’s the same story all over again, only this time those evil, disgusting and formidable creatures have already won the war. During a particularly ill-advised push into the heart of enemy territory, our adversaries circled around behind us and whipped out our home world (I’m referring to them as “us”, although I am pretty sure they’re mentioned as a completely different identical looking species, sorry!) Now this army, your army, isolated in the middle of nowhere, is all that is left of a once prosperous race. Blah blah blah, justice. Blah blah blah, vengeance. Blah blah blah, peace.
Now that we know the reason why large armour glad space men are shooting at each other… again. Lets talk about if the game is actually good. Yes, it is. You take control of individual officers in the last army, they all have soldier subordinates under them but your job is to focus on specifically commanding the officers themselves – their men will simply follow suit. You take these troops across various terrains, conducting rescue missions, recon and generally getting into trouble with a ray gun in your hand.
Dotted across the maps are Obelisks, think of them as giant king of the hill pillars, if you get an officer to lay claim to it for a certain amount of time, then everything in small vicinity belongs to you. This becomes important in the long term, to stop nearby enemy spawn points or to navigate locked doors to further carry out your mission objectives. The missions themselves tend to be the game’s only but sadly quite major downfall. You hope later missions will add variety, unpredictability or a culminating epic final battle, but you’re sadly left with a general sense of rinse and repeat gaming, with similar, maps, objectives and enemies. That isn’t to say that the missions themselves aren’t enjoyable, and for the small development team who created this game, each map is downright visually impressive and professionally polished
Aftermath’s saving grace is its interesting take on the genre. Where other RTS games pin you down with resource management and leave you scrounging for your next mineral/credit payload, just so you can mount an offence. Aftermath understands that people just want to be commanding one unit to kill another unit, and that a previous choice they made however small, is the reason why the battle goes in their favour, thus is the mental joy of the strategy game. The way the game seduces you into thinking you’re a far better strategist than you are, is by the simple use of colour assigned to each damage type, Blue (energy), Yellow (field), Green (biological) and Red (physical). Each of the damage types are spread across armour and weapons alike, and as I am sure you have guessed, have the appropriate resistances to each. Essentially what this means, is that it is up to the player to decide the type of weapon they will use on the fly, to combat the current enemy armour type. i.e. Green will have a high resistance to Green, so use either Blue, Yellow or Red. It may sound like a simple, maybe even childish system, but when multi resistance enemies are coming at you in far larger numbers than your own, it’s all you can do while you try and multitask formations, positions, weapons, health levels, attack priorities, standing attack orders and Field effects.
Field Effects, I guess the closest comparison would be ‘spells’. Acting as offensive blasts, buffs or debuffs that can be the deciding factor during any battle, as long as you have the GOOP supply to have your officer activate one.
GOOP, is your main resource, acting as a general purpose fuel, energy and genetic material. GOOP is harvested from each enemy killed, every objective completed and by finding containers hidden on the maps. It is used during missions as the fuel for the resuscitation of troops or large Field Effects, and to upgrade your officer’s power, troop numbers and weapons prior to mission departure. Rewards are given for having larger GOOP supplies at the end of a mission, which can even be deemed a failure if you are under a certain GOOP allowance, meaning you will have to replay the mission from the start. I’ll hold off on explaining the 30 minute average play times, rigid unchangeable difficulty and no mid-level saves, so you’re less likely to beg for me to end your miserable quad-colour changing life.
The post mission officer customization is quite in-depth seeing you equip your men with field effects, weapons, armour and upgrades for the upcoming battle. Although this heavy strategy and decision making doesn’t play out as well during missions. These are mainly just a straight sweeps across the map, switching between guns one and two and dwelling over the wrong choices you made prior to the mission, that are costing you troops and Goops that you cannot change until after completion.
Project Aftermath has a lot going for it, but sadly equally as much going against it. Is it fun? Ish. Is it playable? Yes. Do you find yourself with any desire to play it over most other games? No. Will once you have completed the single player main story mode (the only mode) be compelled to replay all of the repetitive missions just to add your name to the internet high scores board? No. It’s a game that may sadly fall into the ether, perhaps it doesn’t deserve it, maybe with the prospect of success and a sequel, ideas may be flushed out and improved upon, and as such this series would become truly great.
However, these issues need to be viewed in the correct light as it’s not a AAA title and it doesn’t try to be. What we have here is a competent little game, with some interesting ideas and mechanics, managing to walk on the right side of innovative and interesting. It has shortcomings, but don’t all games, and the majority are made by a lot more people than this one. The developers clearly made the decision to go for quality over quantity, and it works.
If you’re an RTS fan, who likes to support British indie games, Project Aftermath is definitely worth supporting and worth playing. Good day!