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Let Them Come – Review

This single-screen shooter involves a grizzled grunt, his trusty gun turret, a garishly coloured boombox, and a seemingly endless supply of cigars. Our hero is partial to a smoke, see, sparking up a fresh one while you manage the inventory and casually flicking it to the ground when it’s time to get back to the grind.

Rock Gunar, to use his name, also seems to enjoy the task at hand – wiping out wave after wave of rampaging aliens, as they crawl along floors and walls in an attempt to reach the end of the corridor.

The only thing standing in their way is Gunar’s stationary turret. Kills earn credits, used to buy permanent upgrades, special ammo, various explosives, and stronger melee weapons. Only standard ammo is in infinite supply, so it’s wise to use special ammo sparingly. There’s no harm in being thrifty – it’s sometimes sensible to make do with standard ammo and slog through a few waves, saving cash for an upgrade that’ll make things easier in the long run.

Occasionally you’re forced to grind until you can finally afford the firepower to repel fiercer waves. It isn’t an unpleasant grind, however. At least, it isn’t for the most part – this is a game eager to please, throwing lifelines in the form of temporary perks, and giving the choice of a bonus power-up (air strikes, drones, double damage, etc) every time the combo meter is maxed.

As the game progresses – taking Gunar to new locations across a doomed space cruiser – certain upgrades become essential; a fact associated with the occasional difficulty spike. Only the riot shield can block sprays of acid, for instance, with acid spewers appearing around the halfway mark. If a certain wave is giving grief, it’s entirely possible to spend your gains on explosives and reduce all in your path to a burning mess.

The presence of melee weapons and shields prevents the shooting from being mindless – some smaller enemies can elude the turret’s range of fire, scuttling along the ceiling to attack from above. Revving up the chainsaw, or taking a swing with the baseball bat, can prevent Gunar from taking damage from these pests. A close-up of Gunar’s face acts as a health bar – a possible nod to the original DOOM. The more battered and blood-soaked it becomes, the closer to death’s door.

While the five bosses prove troublesome, taking several attempts to beat, they’re designed in such a way that it’s still possible to earn a sum of cash during their first wave. It may take some time, but you’ll eventually get enough resources together to see them explode into a shower of pixel guts.

The third boss is the only exception, going against the grain of the game’s otherwise robust design. This colossal creature requires a dozen grenades and an inventory full of special ammo to defeat, prompting you to grind – thus die repeatedly – until you can finally afford the equipment for the task at hand. With no lifelines available here, this fight did feel like a bit of chore.

Still, it’s only a minor blip on an otherwise enjoyable experience. Watching the corridors slowly become caked in vibrant alien goo is oddly compelling. Throwing a grenade into a bunch of enemies is just as satisfying, sparking off a chain reaction that substantially fills up the combo meter.

Let Them Come is pleasing on the eye too, boasting some impressive pixel art and an aesthetic that’s a cross between DOOM and Acclaim’s well-regarded 16-bit Alien 3 tie-ins. And with Gunar’s boombox being a focal point, carting it from one location to the next along with his turret, it’s no surprise that the music accompanies the action perfectly. Thanks to a choice of collectable mixtapes, it can be as upbeat or as broody as you like.

At around 2-3 hours, Let Them Come certainly doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. In fact, the length is pretty much perfect, this being a relatively straightforward shooter and all. For those looking to squeeze additional bangs out of their six bucks (£6.39), there’s a boss rush-style mode and a challenge mode with online rankings.

It speaks volumes that we were eager to get back into the action the moment the end credits stopped scrolling. For a game that initially appears worryingly simplistic, it achieves a great deal.

Matt Gander: Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles for the site since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.