Have You Played… Infested Planet

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Infested Planet is a top-down strategy game about warring spray hoses. Your enemies are Starship Troopers-style chitinous bugs who spawn in their hundreds from alien hives. Your own units are fragile marines and stationary turrets who spray bullets. Little by little you advance, destroying hives and capturing resource points until the aliens are driven back.

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Most strategy games follow a familiar arc, with a period of quiet growth before forces meet and battle lines are drawn. Infested Planet operates differently by putting you under constant pressure, meaning that the only moments of relative calm come when you’ve achieved a careful equilibrium with your enemy; ie. they keep pouring forward in an endless stream, but your machineguns are enough to keep them from gaining any new ground.

To win means turning back that tide, and a lot of the campaign’s missions exist on a knife edge where small mistakes can mean being overwhelmed and crushed. That can be frustrating, but the satisfaction when you win is consequently massive. You’ll research new tech between missions, gaining air strikes and new soldier classes and weaponry and so on, and you’ll need all of it if you want to beat back the alien menace and, yeah, conquer their homeworld.

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20 Comments

  1. Wowbagger says:

    Little known fact: the brainbug in Starship troopers went on to have a successful career in American sitcoms.

  2. Arathain says:

    It’s a really good game. It’s nice that it can be played in shorter, intense bursts.

    One of the thing I like is during a mission you have a number of points that increases based on the number of bases you’ve captured. You can spend this on more soldiers, weapon upgrades, global upgrades, turrets, or whatever you want. At any time, however, you can get a full refund on whatever you bought and switch those points around to something else. Since the bugs get a new random mutation whenever you take a base, you are encouraged to do so. You and the game both adapt together.

    It’s quite hard to actually lose completely, since it’s easy enough to turtle on one base, so it creates a game of ebbs and flows, victories and retreats. Very cool, and rarely seen in strategy games of any sort.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Actually, I find this game hard to turtle in, since turtling doesn’t get you anything. You gain resources only by attacking. If you lose points, you won’t get any resources until you took all of them back, and add more to that.

      And usually by then, if you suffered such setback, the hives mutated and it’s much harder to take those back on a limited resource pool.

      • Arathain says:

        I must be misremembering how it works. I thought that once you received points you’d keep them, even if you subsequently lost the point. You’d only get new points (and a new mutation) once you took a point you’d never taken.

        A fine excuse to play it tonight and remind myself.

        • AlexVostrov says:

          You’re both right.

          Resources can only be gained by capturing more and more territory, so turtling is pointless. At the same time, you can recycle anything you spent resource on, so you never “lose” them. This allows you to experiment as you like with team weapons and defensive turrets, etc.

          Paper Zombies worked differently – it taxed you 50% for recycling. Making that change was the best single line of code I ever wrote.

          • Arathain says:

            Hi Alex. Nice game! I bought it after hearing you talking to Tom Chick about it. While turtling is pointless in that it doesn’t get you anything measurable, it does allow you to regroup round a smaller area, throw up some defenses, and have a bit of a think about how to take and hold your lost points. You can then experiment with different loadouts, knowing you can still fall back and rebuild that position if your attempt backfires.

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            alphager says:

            Hi Alex,
            just wanted to drop in and tell you that I really enjoyed Infested Planet. Hopefully we’ll see a new game from you soon!

          • haircute says:

            I love your game so much. Thank you.

          • Gnoupi says:

            Yes, indeed, you don’t lose what you gained, which is nice. I really appreciate when games don’t make me pay for having a change of heart, or trying something else than my first idea.

            Don’t get me wrong on my other comments, I do enjoy the game (still have to finish the last missions though), it’s just a bit stressing for me when it feels I have to rush to get new resources, as I can’t really invest in a strong attack and keep a stable defense at the same time. So most of my games turn into a carousel race with the bugs, where I try to take faster than they take my stuff (and that’s with the reinforced bases upgrade).

  3. Gnoupi says:

    And if you like this kind of game in which you are under constant pressure from a flowing enemy, I strongly suggest you give a try to the Creeper World games (link to knucklecracker.com). You can start already at the third one, the most refined version : link to store.steampowered.com

    Compared to Infested Planet, it also has the advantage (well, if you like it) of giving you the opportunity to turtle in and farm your way out of a struggle (if you manage to hold on, you can overcome the attacks by improving your energy output by the time passing, as opposed to Infested planet where the resource management is entirely dependent on how many objective points you take).

    It fits my playstyle more, because you can progress in it, little by little, and actually establish a solid defense, as opposed to Infested planet where you are more in the emergency and mostly unsure of how to protect what you gained from a counter-attack on another flank.

    • RanDomino says:

      Creeper World games are great.

    • Dorchadas says:

      Yes! I was just coming here to recommend Creeper World.

      Once you finish the main game, the website has thousands of fanmade maps. Sturgeon’s Law applies, but I’ve found a few there that I really like and have played again and again.

    • Faxanadu says:

      Wait, this game isn’t from Knucklecracker? But the concept looks totally the same, and even the building in the screen looks like the city from Creeper world. Uhhhh.

    • Canadave says:

      Yeah, reading this post made me want to load up CW3. I really like how the creeper in those games is just a liquid that slowly comes pouring towards you. They really do a great job of playing with depth and terrain in that game. There’s also something supremely satisfying about finally getting a self-sustaining base established against the onrushing tide, and then starting to slowly chip your way back against the emitters. Great fun.

  4. RanDomino says:

    I played Paper Zombies, the designer’s previous game of which Infested Planet is more or less just a prettified version, and that game is fantastic. The balance is on a knife’s edge- if they get the best mutations early, you could be facing a real slog. If there’s a single spot where you can park a siege cannon and firebase (two turrets and a teleporter, ideally on a captured hive) and reach three hives, it might be a complete by-the-book affair. Until you realize that a few managed to wander around your lines and capture a hive you thought was safe, and now your lines are ruined and the firebase is all you have left and you’re being attacked from six directions at once.

    • Arathain says:

      The flood analog works well. Sometimes you’ll have things pretty well contained and you’ll just spring a leak somewhere unexpected, turning your whole offense into a crumbling defense.

  5. subedii says:

    Definitely recommend Infested Planet. It’s a pretty awesome strategy game, and very different from most other strategy games. You regularly see yourself battling back and forth with the bugs on each map, losing the advantage one minute and being pushed back, then suddenly having a breakout moment as you adapt and change to the circumstances, or pull off a risky raid that takes the pressure off your flank, or even just remember an ability you had been forgetting about until now.

    There’s a heavy emphasis on on-the-fly strategy, with the battles ebbing forwards and backwards as you advance, gain ground, the aliens adapt, force you back, and you desperately try not to loose too much whilst they counter-attack and frequently circumvent your previous strategies. You can gain momentum, but so can the enemy, and the game has a lot of scope for turn-arounds from dire circumstances with the right play (which applies just as much to the enemy often times).

    All in all, I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for something a little different from the standard RTS or squad level tactical game.

  6. jonahcutter says:

    I love this game and agree with pretty much all the positives already expressed, so…

    Aesthetic! It’s great too. It’s very colorful in its units, environments and copious amounts of lovely gore.

    Now I’ll never be one to complain about grimdark aesthetics as I endlessly love that oppressive and depressive look. But there are many examples already and a palate cleanser is always welcome. Infested Planet fits the bill.

    With its space marines and gory exploding of endless bugs, it could of easily been brown and grey grimdark. Instead it looks like an animated board game to me, with its clean, specific, counter-like units and bright colors. Really a refreshing game to look at as you turn waves of bug insides into great splashes of color.

    Great gameplay and great look.

  7. clom says:

    Great game! Wish there was more….. but maybe that means it was perfect as it is.