Game name: Unfortunate Spacemen
Release date: June 12, 2020 (1.0 release)
Price: Free, zero, nothing, nada, zilch. The madmen did it! (there are some cosmetics that you can buy though)
Available on: Steam
Genre: Multiplayer survival horror/The Thing
Developer: Geoff Keene
Publisher: New Blood Interactive
Have you ever watched The Thing and wished you could inflict some of the horrors of that movie upon your friends? (without actually turning into a Thing and murdering them horribly, that is). That’s probably one of the things Geoff Keene was thinking about when he set out to create Unfortunate Spacemen a few years ago. Fast forward to 2020 and the full game is among us (after a relatively lengthy Early Access period). Is it any good? Does it capture the magic of The Thing? Let’s find out!
Unfortunate Spacemen‘s basic premise is simple. Up to 16 astronauts are stranded in a remote location, and they must complete a number of tasks before a drop-ship can arrive and pick them up. Sadly, there’s also the small issue of one of the spacemen being a shape-shifting alien creature that will stop at nothing in its quest to murder the human population of the outpost.
Every round starts with all the players being assigned a color, and given a basic gun. From there onwards, the astronauts need to complete tasks such as transmitting data through uplinks scattered around the maps, clearing debris from landing pads, or taking care of sensitive specimens that the company that hired them considers more valuable than the lives of their employees. Seems simple? The alien creature also starts out looking like a spaceman, and can shape-shift into any of the others, in order to sow chaos and destruction. Oh, and it’s also far stronger than a regular astronaut while in monster form, and it can burrow underground, plant eggs that act as traps, use the air ducts as a faster method of transport, doesn’t need oxygen to survive… and the list goes on.
How can the poor unfortunate spacemen survive against that power? Simple, the humans must quickly find a way to get together, and always move as a group, communicating with each other at all times, and trying to not act suspiciously. Of course, humans are an untrustworthy bunch, so we tend to suspect each other of being a horrible monster in disguise when playing a game like this one, so you can guess that there will be a few innocent deaths before the dastardly monster gets caught… if it gets caught. Thankfully, the astronauts can also get their hands on all sorts of monster-disposal equipment, with flamethrowers, assault rifles, portable railguns and rocket launchers all making an appearance here (plus a number of grenade types).
Why am I doubting the abilities of up to fifteen astronauts to utterly ruin the monster’s day when they have numbers and possibly superior firepower on their side? Well, the shape-shifting enemy of humanity has a few more tricks to its disposal that I haven’t mentioned until now. For starters, remember all these nifty guns the humans can use? Well, the monster can use them as well, as long as it’s in human form. So it’s a race to find weapons (or to camp the canisters that will show up from time to time, slowly opening as the seconds pass, always tantalizing, and always dangerous). If that wasn’t enough, the alien can also sabotage the humans’ progress (and even their long range comms). See that power station? It can be turned off. That weird looking virus canister? Break it and unleash a colorblind plague that will create chaos among the puny humans. You can even set traps with half-completed objectives, or disguise yourself as an isolated member of the human team and “rejoin” the astronauts while they are colorblind. Then it’s just a matter of separating them in easy to control groups, and the murder party will be in full swing.
There are enough maps to keep the game fresh at all times, and there’s even the option to let an AI take over the alien, though I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s way more engaging to play against a fellow human, who might have their own tells and quirks.
And if the main game mode is not enough for your hunger for content, there’s also a single-player/co-op mode for up to six players, where you have to escape facilities while at the same time completing objectives for the almighty corporation that cares more about their specimens than they do for their employees. Not your kind of thing? There’s also a horde mode for up to 10 players!
Honestly, this is one of the more feature complete packages when it comes to games of this sort. And the best part? It’s free! There are cosmetics you can buy in-game using real money, but there’s no way to gain an advantage over other players, and no obnoxious ads to get in the way between you and a boatload of fun. Unfortunate Spacemen is the real deal, a free to play multiplayer title that captures the magic of The Thing while at the same time managing to avoid all the common F2P pitfalls.
9/10 – Great.