What's worse than being stuck on an alien planet? Being stuck on an alien planet under capitalism.
That's your plight in Alien Squatter, a new survival RPG by A. Hagen and Shea Kennedy. You're an alien trying to make it on the streets of Earth. It's out now and I like it.
I've seen more homelessness sims than you'd expect over the last year or two. Some are plain tasteless. The better ones, like Change (which Alice Cubed played with its developer at Rezzed), are realistically upsetting and frustrating even with only a fraction of what really happens to people outside.
Alien Squatter sidesteps either camp with its weird alien future setting and ambiguous tone. Earth is packed full of aliens, some in the fancy city of Privilege, most cast out into the slummy hellhole you're trying to escape. Each day you roam the neighbourhood scooping money, food, and junk from the ground, aiming to save up enough to blag your way into Privilege with a fake ID. Food turns into energy when you sleep, which lets you walk around for longer or take part in more tiring activities. This is a big deal because if you run out of energy you're dragged to the clinic, where bad things can happen.
It feels faintly unseemly to recommend a game about being homeless as "fun", but Alien Squatter pulls it off without issue. It's intentionally silly and mildly funny, but it's also really hard, and the wacky pastel-coloured aliens and over the top dystopia jokes sit between night time flavour text where you worry about your neighbours dying, and the very real possibility of having your organs harvested if you pass out.
"Evocative descriptions bring the dystopian world to life," says its store page, "It's a really terrible place!". That oddly cheerful vibe sums it up perfectly.
Alien Squatter is available now on Steam for £4.79/€4.99/$5.99.