[Aliens Quote]: Roguelike FPS Space Beast Terror Fright

Terror!

“Pack a spare pair of spacepants for Space Beast Terror Fright!” writes whatever force of the ’90s has seized my fingers. “To the max!” SBTF, as I shall call it to save time I’ve now wasted explaining this acronym, is a roguelikelike FPS about a space marine venturing into alien-infested spacecraft to download data before setting them to self-destruct. It’s a tense, claustrophobic game about securing routes by locking doors and activating sentry turrets, knowing they’ll only hold so long, then falling back on blasting away with your giant spacegun. It’s still in development, but does have a free demo.

SBTF feels very ’90s in ways, with zippy movement, mazes of tight corridors, enemies who charge right at you, an overcrowded HUD, and a big gun spewing hundreds of bullets without ever reloading. It’s taken me ages to write this because I keep going back to play the demo more.

In short: you explore procedurally-generated spaceships, hacking (ie standing near) computers to recover data and sentry guns to cover your back. Hacking also gives XP, and each level-up brings a random bonus like infravision, quicker hacking, automap upgrades, more ammo, a better motion-tracker, or auto-targeting. Aliens are usually scarce at the start, but you’ll find and blast a few skittering across walls. While one swipe kills you, they’re not tough or clever. After a few perks and a couple of kills, I can feel dangerously cocky.

While I’ve been levelling up, they’ve been expanding. Aliens out of sight batter down doors, pop up new spawn points, and exhaust the ammo of those sentry guns I think are covering my retreat. Pushing forwards becomes increasingly dangerous, and I usually end up panicking and fleeing blindly in search of a sentry gun to befriend. I’ve only successfully completed one mission so far. Here, I recorded one failed attempt where I ended up between three alien spawns:

If you think it looks overcrowded and claustrophobic, hey, that’s after I turned off the view-limiting helmet. And besides, that’s the feel developers Nornware going for. The field of view, the darkness, the clutter, the giant muffleflash, and the clouds of gunsmoke all mean half the time you can barely see what’s right in front of you. Hold fire a little longer and it’ll probably be fine. I’m even quite fond of the wacky camera effects during dangerous moments.

Nornware are distributing the SBTF demo through their own client. I know, I know, but it is at least a tiny little program which looks and works like a DOS box. They’re trying to crack Steam Greenlight too, saying “given sufficient interest” they’d plan to add new things like new modes, multiplayer, new types of level, and perhaps even the option to play as an alien, the marine commander, or the controlling alien hive mind. I’m quite happy with this core mode for now, myself.

37 Comments

  1. Morcane says:

    Illegal Aliens in Sevastopol?

    And yes, this is why I love RPS – the game is absolutely fantastic and without RPS I would never have played it.

  2. Zallgrin says:

    I really like the sound design! Will definitely vote for them on Greenlight.

  3. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    To the Downloadatron! Then, to the Playatron!

  4. Monggerel says:

    If a space marine screams aboard an abandoned hulk slowly drifting in its eternal restless slumber , does it make a sound, and if so, does anyone hear it?

    • Lacessit says:

      Well yes, the slavering fangs on paws hear. That’s how they get him.

    • Alien426 says:

      No, in space no one can hear you scream, unless it is the war cry of the U.S. Marines!

      (bonus points available)

      • Monggerel says:

        OORAAH SIR SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS FIDELIS MOLON FUCKING LABE WHO DARES WINS NAPALM STICKS TO KIDS YES SIR

  5. JustAchaP says:

    A nice little replacement for Colonial Marines?

  6. Kaeoschassis says:

    Very much reminds me of a little indie offering I played awhile back but cannot remember the name of. First person, but turn-based, you were encased in some sort of mech suit and stomped around shipwrecks killing aliens and stealing things. Made by a bunch of students I think? Can’t be arsed searching out the name right now but it was all bloody good fun – will be trying this out soon.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, you turned off the ultra-restrictive helmet thing?! That’s one of my fav immersion-building game tricks and I wish more devs would do it. Republic Commando, you will be missed.

    • HuvaaKoodia says:

      Scavenger 1.0 perchance.
      (Always take the opportunity to promote your own projects!)

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        That’s the very one. Might I just take this opportunity to say you’ve got a fantastic game there, both in atmosphere and in gameplay (even if it did take me awhile to really figure out the latter).

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Just while I figured out what the game even was. I think the visual confusion and restriction – including the smoke and muzzleflash and wonky camera during tense moments – are all important, but at first I find that helmet greatly off-putting.

  7. Jakkar says:

    This.. is absolutely wonderful.. It’s like System Shock 2 condensed into a five minute digest, in terms of tension and frantically right-clicking things while something runs toward you.

  8. ZIGS says:

    Are you supposed not to see a goddamn thing when you shoot the gun?

  9. K33L3R says:

    I love how the blood splatter glows in infra-red

  10. slerbal says:

    That gave me the willies watching it. Definitely going to have to get this, though I do wish it was just a single game and not some random client I don’t need.

  11. raiders5000 says:

    Not saying it’s bad or anything, but it sure does remind me of running around in the sewers of Fallout 3.

  12. Napalm Sushi says:

    So… anyone else’s launch client suddenly close just as it’s almost done downloading this?

    UPDATE: Never mind; it succeeded after a few tries.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    Hunh, I might give this a tr—

    Nornware are distributing the SBTF demo through their own client.

    nope.avi

    • slerbal says:

      Yeah, ultimately I have gone the same route. I just do not want their bespoke “client”, just too many ways it can go wrong (not least is the fact that Chrome really doesn’t like it)

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      You may be interested in this post that went up today then: link to steamcommunity.com

  14. mcnostril says:

    Is there a way to change the install path on their launcher?
    It’s a bit annoying that it just downloads to a folder without asking.

    Other than that this is brilliant.
    I’m a bit torn on the weird view effects, they do tend to make me panic more, but on the other hand it throws off my aim in tense moments, and it feels kind of cheap to die that way.
    A smaller aiming reticle would be nice too, considering everything else already obscures what you’re viewing.

  15. Alien says:

    The launcher isn’t working for me: Download starts but sometime soon the launcher closes. If I start it again, the download starts at 0% again. Tried it 3 times…

  16. geldonyetich says:

    Between this and Phr00t’s 4089, looks like indies are finally getting around to that procedurally generated System Shock I’ve always wanted. Still not quite perfect, though they both look like good fun.

  17. thedosbox says:

    I can’t be the only one who misread “SENTRY 255 ACTIVATED” as “SENTRY ASS ACTIVATED”.

  18. Nim says:

    Has anyone managed to actually complete a level so far?

    • Jakkar says:

      I’ve managed to reach the third level (completed two), but I didn’t last long once there…

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      One, and I felt super cool. I went into the second all levelled-up and horribly, horribly overconfident.

    • mcnostril says:

      Once you have all the upgrades it gets significantly easier, but it’s interesting that even with a million bullets and near instant hacks, the game still manages to cook up tense situations. Not sure if it’s coincidence or if it’s related to your success, but I’m at around 8 missions now, and the last few have been throwing ridiculous amounts of aliens at me.

      • Napalm Sushi says:

        Eight missions?

        :o

        I’ve finished the first one twice, and the second time was because of a rare bug that caused no aliens to spawn (which was actually really creepy).

        And yes, for all the wondrous boons you acquire, an addition to that solitary hitpoint isn’t among them. You’re never more than one moment’s misjudgement away from becoming another name on the Cannon Fodder-esque obituary screen.

  19. Napalm Sushi says:

    Despite it not nominally being one, I think this might actually be the best Aliens game I’ve played.

    The audio-visual design is perfect and the mix of claustrophobic tension, thunderous firepower and chaotic panic is spot on – more so, I’d argue, than the early AVP games – but it also manages to be a lot more than a linear twitch shooter. Spatial awareness, fast decision making and tight control of your environment are far more important than marksmanship, and the nakedness of traversing an open chamber surrounded by doorways will have you desperate to be back among the stifling corridors and their predictable firing lanes. It’s consistently as terrifying as any moment in an Amnesia game.

    I’ll be watching this one.

  20. Shadowcat says:

    SBTF, as I shall call it

    Send Badgers To Finland
    Stand Back, Thorbjörn Fälldin
    Swim Beneath The Firmament
    Success By Two Feet
    Sings Badly To Fans
    Soaring Balloons Turn Faces
    Send Back To Future
    Skynet Brings Terminator Friends

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      That is the coolest superpower ever…

      Bet you can’t do ZZT though.

  21. bill says:

    I read this news post on my phone and it download the pictures and the name was dumb, so I assumed it would be rubbish and moved on.
    Then I happened to scan past the screenshot when reading RPS on PC and thought “wow, that looks like a cool game. ”

    Considering my most fun game of last year was probably AvP classic in Skirmish mode, I think I might actually check this out.

    Dumb name though.

  22. ferdinand says:

    I like to play the game but when your head starts to shoot 30cm backwards every 2 seconds when aliens are close I get a headache and want to look away. Is this the worst game feature ever where they want you to close your eyes when aliens are close? Should I always run away when aliens are close? It is now 5 mins after I played your game and I am still having flashbacks to that horrible effect. Next time a game does that I will immediately close it. I am not epileptic by the way.
    Republic Commando was awesome and I have played it at least 12 times from start to finish.