In the current era of expansive, hour-devouring games that demand a certain amount of time logged into them in order to get to the really good stuff; it can be refreshing to kick back and play a short and focused experience such as Let Them Come by developer Tuatara Games and publisher Versus Evil.
“Not bad…for a human”
Let Them Come is one of those games that feels like it was designed for smartphones, yet it feels best played with a controller. The concept is simple: you are a guy at the very left of the screen, you have a big machine gun, alien hordes stampede in waves, you can probably guess what you have to do. At first, you are only given one fire mode and are exposed to lumbering generic aliens and small spider-like aliens. It can get frustrating in these early stages as the spider aliens are fast, and harder to hit, while also trying to focus on their normal walking brethren. You will die often and wonder what might be the point in playing such a barebones title.
Luckily, the game has a surprising amount of depth that doesn’t materialize until you have gotten past the first level. Once it did, my low expectations were superseded by genuine enthusiasm for the gameplay loop. You are awarded currency based on your performance which you can then be used on new ammo types, melee weapons, and buffs. As you might expect, waves also introduce new enemy types that upgrades allow you to dispatch more effectively. For instance, thick armored aliens can be hurt with armor-piercing rounds or shock rounds to stun large enemies with projectile attacks. It can be tough to know which loadout is the optimal choice for the enemies in the wave you are stuck on (let alone the enemy composition of the next one), but the game seems fair once you are able to acquire the right amount of credits for the upgrades you need. However, it is that uncertainty of what the game is going to throw at you, and how you will be rewarded for your attempts, that bogs this experience down.
“The crew is dead, doctor. Your game killed them!”
When you die in Let Them Come your progress on the current wave is saved. There are about 25 waves to each level and each has an end boss to defeat before progressing to the next level. There are 5 levels and, of course, the difficulty ramps up in a big way through each. If you are having difficulty with a particular wave the game does afford a lifeline in the form of a buff or shuffling up the alien types, making things somewhat easier. But it can get frustrating when there is a particular item you need for a certain enemy or a strategy you need to employ that the game does not explain. For instance, certain melee weapons do not cover a 270 degree angle while others do. The game does not tell you this in item descriptions. Or when you initially buy a buff, you aren’t sure if it is a gun mod or an equip-able passive ability because the Let Them Come does not have the clearest descriptions. Minor changes to these descriptions would really help save time and frustration, perhaps that can be ironed out with a patch.
Let them Come’s presentation is a stylish 32-bit animation style that seems to be all the rage these days in games such as Mother Russia Bleeds and Hotline Miami but I have to say what really sets this game apart from those is how claustrophobic the whole thing feels. The corridors are usually pretty dark and enemies fill the screen in later levels. This helps depict a macabre atmosphere and can lead to some times of high tension when you are a nose-hair away from death. There is also some really nice looking blood, especially for the limitations of this graphical style. The soundtrack is also consistent with this tone and features thumping synthesizer tracks and chugging guitar riffs, if it’s an 80’s sci-fi musical trope you’ll find it here. There are 6 mixtapes, lore samples, and a massive amount of upgrades to unlock through your descent into the treacherous corridors of the derelict ship.
Greivances aside, Let Them Come ended up pleasantly surprising me. It’s a $5 game that you can get a couple fun hours out of so the value is definitely there for people wanting a quick fix. I was frustrated at the beginning, but once I figured out the underlying strategies of how to approach some of the more difficult waves, I was immensely satisfied with my accomplishments. Also, it’s $5. What do you have to lose?
Here is the Let Them Come Launch Trailer:
Let Them Come is available for Xbox One, PC and Mac via Steam.