Aliens: Dark Descent Review (Steam)

For this Aliens: Dark Descent Review, where we drop into the gripping journey of Aliens: Dark Descent, a squad-based, single-player action game in the iconic Alien franchise. Lead your soldiers in real-time to stop a new and terrifying kind of Xenomorph outbreak on Planet Lethe.

Aliens: Dark Descent Review Pros:

  • Decent graphics.
  • 55.26GB Download size.
  • Steam Achievements.
  • Graphics settings – resolution, display mode, AMD Fidelity FX super-resolution, Resolution scale, v-sync, gamma, and color vision. Graphics preset including custom for – anti-aliasing, texture, effects, post-processing, geometry, shadow, foliage, and shading.
  • Full controller support.
  • 3 save slots.
  • Action shooter gameplay.
  • Gameplay settings – how pause works, continuous camera rotation, vibration, movement speed slider, camera zoom speed slider, Invert axis, dynamic tutorial, when to show enemy and player health bars, and display mini-map in motion tracker.
  • Difficulty settings – preset (story/medium/hard/nightmare/custom), enemy health points, enemy detection time, aggressiveness gain delay, death clock campaign days, and how the save system works (permissive and no one can hear them scream).
  • The Codex menu keeps all tutorials and helps text in one place.
  • You get the obligatory this game is hard to text pop-up when starting a new game.
  • Excellent soundtrack.
  • Cutscenes are a mix of FMV and in-game.
  • You can skip the cutscenes.
  • A new unique story within the Aliens universe.
  • When in a level you get the main missions to further the story and then secondary optional missions for bonus rewards and lore.
  • Fog of war is in play where the world shows itself as you travel/explore.
  • The game plays like an RTS in that you move around by selecting it with a cursor and your characters follow the line.
  • Brilliant voice work throughout.
  • Decent loading times.
  • The camera control is full 360 degrees but you can also zoom in and out.
  • Handy icons on the screen to help with objectives and Interactive parts.
  • The torch helps illuminate in front of you but holding the button down for it allows you to see more in one area and highlight anything Interactive.
  • Dripping in the atmosphere from the music to the game flow but especially the shadows.
  • Doors can be welded shut if you have the right tools to do so.
  • Enemy detection works as in there is a delay and for anyone near detection, the movement line will go from yellow to red, and once fully red you are detected.
  • Green grids coming off the movement line show cover that can help avoid detection. (you can crouch when in cover)
  • Your squad moves as one unit, and actions within it like interactions are assigned to a random squad member to carry out.
  • The motion tracker works the same way as I’m the film, it will show movement within a 60-meter radius by white dots. It makes iconic noises and pulses.
  • Having the motion detector as part of the mini-map is a stroke of genius making it really easy and quick to use.
  • Marines in your squad shoot automatically when detected and can even shoot when walking, just not while running.
  • Command points are regained over time and you spend them on abilities like grenades or suppressive fire etc.
  • Mission completion percentages show on loading screens.
  • Getting injured and losing health is one thing but if say your leg gets wounded, then the whole squad gets a movement penalty.
  • When activating skills like grenades and shotguns you can set the game to pause or go into slow-mo. (can be changed whenever)
  • Full dismemberment is possible and you get a text pop-up to tell you.
  • USS Otago is the crash ship that you are now using as a base. Within the ship you do your upgrades, fix the ship up, and handle deaths and medical needs.
  • The ship stuff is like the Headquarters in X Com where you do all your behind-the-scenes stuff.
  • The workshop is where you go to research and build new weapons.
  • All the classic and now legendary sound effects are in the game from Alien screams to the pulse rifle noises.
  • The game breaks you in overtime into the mechanics and unlocks.
  • Combat is broken up in such a way that you can play how you want whether it be more of a shooter or you can go do the tactics route.
  • The command deck is where you choose your mission, build the team of marines and change their load outs, and take any supplies like medkits and tools for sealing doors, etc.
  • A squad is made up of four marines.
  • Loot boxes can be found within the game as can looting dead people.
  • When you hack into other places you can use supply points to have all items and locations revealed immediately.
  • When a squad member is doing something (hacking/looting etc) you can still move the rest of the team around without affecting them and they will then join afterward.
  • The lighting works really well and adds a lot to the immersion and atmosphere.
  • The story tells it as if they are learning about the Aliens for the first time.
  • Resting lowers the squad’s stress level and can be done by sealing all doors in a room.
  • Mark an Alien to have concentrated fire on it.
  • If you stay in a room too long or stay in an ambush circle too long then you will get attacked.
  • If you continue to stay in an area after stopping the ambush attack then you can trigger it again and this time the Aliens will be stronger and then again and again.
  • You can also increase the Alien threat by just killing them over and over.
  • Noise, explosions, and Gunfire can all attribute to Aliens finding you.
  • Retribution is a gauge that fills up as you kill Aliens and once full you can trigger it causing all marines to be stronger and better for a short time.
  • The ARC vehicle can be called in and this lets you quit the mission, put survivors in it, and also use the fast travel around the location service.
  • Loacatiojsnare huge and with that you can explore at your heart’s content.
  • Many secrets and Collectibles to find.
  • At the end of a mission your team gets exp, you get a stats page, all supplies brought back get added and you have an overall breakdown.
  • When in Otago you have to at some point advance the game via the next-day command.
  • Multiple choice encounters in between days passing. Green and red text act as a warning as to what the outcome can be.
  • Anything from building upgrades, crafting weapons, and healing soldiers are timed by in-game days. You can at times assign people to bays to speed up the number of days.
  • Planet infestations grow every day and fill a gauge showing how much harder the planet is to navigate etc.
  • Once you have visited a location, any return visits allow you to choose where your team deploys.
  • Such a great genre to fit the universe.
  • The gameplay has a bit of everything.
  • You don’t get bogged down in politics and base building as it’s very streamlined.
  • I like how you can go in and do what you want regardless of the mission, it’s handy when it all goes wrong or you find a load of supplies and want to bank them.
  • Drops some lines and sayings from the film.
  • Hack into cameras and use them to survey the land.
  • Your squad members can actually get grabbed so you have to act fast or you lose them.
  • How the game plays out is you have a huge list of objectives both main and side, you can then go through them how you want and leave and return when you want. Your only enemy with this is the infestation level.
  • When a big event is about to happen, you get a pop-up warning to say all about healing and getting ready.
  • Marines level up and you pick one of three random upgrades, sometimes the marine can have a class assigned to them.
  • As you unlock new abilities it makes more of the area open to you if you want to explore more than it is.
  • Constant feeling of being chased, watched, and under huge time pressure.
  • I just love how over time the planet becomes more and more infested making it harder but also forcing you to punch through and prioritize runs.
  • When on the ship you get helpful text prompts showing if you can use a medic or build a new weapon etc.
  • Marines can get all sorts of conditions that affect them in battle like increased stress around fire or every combat encounter decreases stress.
  • Big boss encounters.
  • Nerve shredding set pieces.
  • Cool cutscenes before a big fight or introducing a new enemy type.

Aliens: Dark Descent Review Cons:

  • Cannot rebind controls.
  • Slight stuttering as the game transitions from cutscenes to gameplay.
  • No way to change the text size of menus and in-game text.
  • Slow starter.
  • Checkpoints are far apart and you never really know when you trigger one, this is a big deal as you use these when respawning.
  • Camera control can get very awkward especially if you need to sneak or stealth around, the camera just doesn’t fit the purpose.
  • No way to zoom in and out of the mini-map.
  • Not always sure when it saved or if it saves when you close the game.
  • A lot of the graphic details pop in and out.
  • Again we have to sit through the opening parts where the team learns about Aliens again.
  • Resting always triggers the same cutscenes.
  • Cannot skip the fast travel animations.
  • So much to take in.
  • The weakest part of the game is the camera.
  • A mission complete pop-up isn’t a checkpoint and in boss encounters this is frustratingly bad as you have to replay so much of the fight or set piece.

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Aliens: Dark Descent:

Official website.

Developer: Tindalos Interactive

Publisher: Focus Entertainment

Store Links –


  • 9/10
    Graphics - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Accessibility - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Length - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Fun Factor - 9/10


This is what happens when you cross many genres together and add in a shit ton of Xenomorphs. Dark Descent is an Aliens game that takes a lot of inspiration from games such as X Com, Starcraft, and more. You control a team of marines and go to planets looking for help and to help survivors from this mysterious Alien race. Yes, you have to once again listen as a group of marines and scientists work out what they are and how they function, it’s the Batman origin dance all over again. Gameplay however is some of the best I have played in this franchise possibly ever. It is full of atmosphere, Dread, and tactics. What surprised me most was how despite being in an isometric view they have managed to maintain the dank Darkness and uncertainty of the franchise. You are always on edge as you get blips of where Aliens are but you don’t always see them as they can be in the vents or in an undiscovered part of the map thanks to the fog of war mechanics. Now how this all plays out is you get a load of missions both main and secondary but the cool thing is the world is persistent meaning it’s not all about finishing the missions one by one, oh no you can do as much or as little as you like every time you come down to the planet. Your Arc vehicle can fast-travel you around the planet but also extract survivors or get your team back to the badly damaged Otago ship. In the shop, you get access to many wings of the ship like the armory, command, and medic bay. This is all very familiar to me X Com vets but to the rest, it’s just a series of menus where you can hire and fire marines, fix them up, and open up new weapons. Using days as the metric you can advance time day by day and each time the planet will get more infested, it will get more difficult to get in and out, and research/healing is policed by days. Aside from all that you also get multiple-choice encounters where you get told what will happen for each choice, it’s a really good way to keep the game moving when it’s clear I’m in downtime mode. Combat is a case of marines firing automatically on sight and you have a bar of abilities like flares (help with accuracy), grenade launchers, and suppressive fire, and these all take command points to activate so it’s not as clear-cut as you would like. Stealth makes an appearance in that you can avoid fights by breaking line of sight but be warned that Aliens can hear you running, shooting, and blowing shit up so stealth may well be in the game but it’s rarely used. As you play more mechanics unveil themselves and we get a slew of new alien types and this is usually proceeded with a cool cutscene introduction. I really fell in love with the game from the planet designs to the marine banter to all the crazy fun combat. It wasn’t all smooth sailing as much as it can be in an alien-filled world the camera and checkpoints. The camera is really bad and can obscure views, hide key interactions and generally not work as well or as smoothly as I would like. The other major gripe is the checkpoints, you never know when they trigger and even mission-complete pop-ups don’t mean a checkpoint has been reached, it started as a small niggle but got more and more of an issue until I grew frustrated with having to replay either large chunks of game again or re do a big stressful enemy/boss encounter. Other than that I have nothing but love for a game that surprised me in how well it works but also how addictive and fun it is to explore a world full of aliens and loot. Aliens Dark Descent is an Aliens fan game and one of if not the best Aliens games in the franchise.

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!