Genesis: Alpha One Review — Routine Humdrum
Genesis: Alpha One has the framework of a space ship building rogue-like but lacks anything more to make playing it worthwhile.
Genesis: Alpha One is a combination of rogue-likes, ship building, and first-person shooting, each of which are serviced enough to work but not well enough to earn your time investment. The movement is fast, but the shooting itself is weightless and lacks the impact of other shooters. The rogue-like element simply means this is a run-based game where failure means beginning anew, and the ship building means gathering resources in order to expand in the hopes of finding a planet to colonize. The real issue is that while the systems work, they aren’t compelling or rewarding to engage with long term.
Much of your time in Genesis Alpha One is going to be spent on a routine. Mine was using the tractor beam to take in resources, checking for what I wanted to build or create next and seeing if the resources required were available on any nearby planets. If they were I would use the hangar to travel planet-side, harvest what I could while killing any hostile lifeforms, and make my way back as soon as the harvester was full. Once back on board I would sweep through the underbelly of the station to make sure the tractor beam hadn’t beamed on any parasitic life that can spread and multiply until you start to receive messages of system failures and have to kill and repair your way through sections lest you lose precious progress.
Once I made sure everything looked good I would repeat the hanger process until everything was gained and move on to the next solar system on the quest for a new planet to colonize. After a potential planet was found I needed to begin working my way towards fulfilling its requirements, which meant adding greenhouses to create a different atmosphere and start cloning beings who thrive in that atmosphere. The Genesis project requirements were high, but I had hoarded enough resources to start working towards it confidently, until my ship got invaded.
I’m not sure where the invasion stemmed, whether from an actual enemy ship or a byproduct of the tractor beam taking in space debris, but they weren’t the weak insects that pop out from eggs underneath your corridors, they were grunts bearing weapons and destroyed my precious progress quickly, felling clone after clone including the ones I was controlling in an attempt to plug the now gushing leak of damage. I quit out in frustration at both the fact that this setback sucked, but also because working my way back to that point wasn’t going to be fun or interesting, as much of Genesis Alpha One is just mindlessly fulfilling a routine to make the numbers go up.
As far as run-based games go, Genesis Alpha One is another one of those, with not much distinguishing it, or making it better, than the many, many others already out. The beginning of each run begins with a pretty good video about the death of Earth due to overpopulation and lack of resources, so corporations aligned together to send ships into space to seed life on other viable planets. It may not be the most unique premise but its well done enough that I bought into it.
You pick from different corporations giving different stats at the outset but sadly there isn’t much flavor to separate them aside from starting stats and some potential builds you can make. From there you begin to build your ship, gather resources, and try not to lose progress. Movement is fast, as is the production of new additions to your ship. Simply confirming you want it to be built and selecting the area it connects to will instantly make it appear in-game. You can also speed up processes such as beaming debris, cloning, refining, and planting in the greenhouse by standing at a console and holding whatever required button it asks for. This swiftness is nice, and assigning staff to various rooms also helps when you aren’t around. However, because there is pretty much no personality to any of these aspects or systems. It’s all eventually a banal grind where not even watching videos or listening to podcasts while playing can really make it worthwhile.
Gathering the necessary resources to fulfill a Genesis mission can take a lot of time, especially if you end up getting pushed back by hostile invasions. There is a base sense of joy to be had from making the numbers go up, but I never completed a Genesis mission and I doubt whatever feeling or reward it gives was worth the effort to reach it. I think it is more than enough to say I have no interest in playing more of it just to confirm what I already know: it’s not great.