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Experience life as a Chryssalid in I'm Not A Monster's open beta

Hush hush on the space-lizard thing

Turn-based space-disaster sim I'm Not A Monster is a fascinating little thing. Blending old parlour game Mafia (or Werewolf, depending on how goth you're feeling) with XCOM, a team of seven players are dispatched to rescue civilians from a spacecraft under attack. The twist: Two of those players are secretly shapeshifting alien lizards, capable of transforming others into more of their kind. While there'll be more modes, threats and scenarios in the final game later this year, a multiplayer beta rolled out onto Steam today, free for all to try.

I'm Not A Monster (developed by Cheerdealers, who also made the similarly themed Distrust) feels a lot like XCOM with a pulp 50s B-movie style, albeit with each player only controlling a single unit and within briskly timed turns. The beta scenario plays out a little like an XCOM terror mission - the map is full of civilians, and if a certain number of them are killed, the humans lose. If enough are escorted to the start point (or all the aliens killed) then humanity triumphs. But the two sides are playing by wildly different rules.

The five humans are limited by line-of-sight, while the aliens - playing like a cross between XCOM 2's Faceless and Chryssalids - share a hive-mind with each other, plus any humans infected and converted into possible hosts. Whichever team gets to seven rescues/kills wins. While the couple test rounds I played were mostly against bots, it does feel like the two teams are playing very different games against each other.

If killed, aliens will respawn into another body if one is infected. If a human player dies, they'll automatically assume control of a random civilian. Rescuing civilians is also its own reward for the human team, with each one rescued giving the rescuer a brief boost to action points, plus a chance to combine two inventory items. Got an X-ray shotgun and a medkit? Now you can heal people through solid walls. Conversely, the aliens aren't as adaptable, but can use both human weaponry or powerful melee attacks when transformed.

The beta contains a short solo tutorial and bots to fill empty player slots, but this is a multiplayer game. I observed that the AI is quite attentive and dedicated to rescuing civilians, but not very suspicious. It'll be interesting to see how this one feels when playing with a semi-experienced group full of potentially nervous players, ideally ones that can keep quiet if they get picked to be an alien.

I'm Not A Monster is due out later this year, but you can try the open beta for yourself on Steam now.

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