Genesis Alpha One is a bit of a weird game that mixes resource management, space exploration, first person shooter and roguelike elements all into one. The main goal being to explore solar systems in the hopes of finding a planet hospital for your crew.
Despite having FPS elements, Genesis Alpha One is mostly about resource collection and management. You will end up spending most of your time aboard your ship, assigning the crew to jobs, taking care of infestations, scanning debris and planets to find resources and other tasks. Really what you want to aim for is getting as many ship modules, and clone as many crew members as you can to make your search for a hospitable planet as automated as possible.
As I mentioned, your crew members are all clones. This is part of the roguelike mechanic which lets you change into another of your crew members if the one you’re playing as dies. This means as long as your ship doesn’t get destroyed and you have spare crew members you can keep on going. Clones don’t have to just be human either, you can create clones from alien DNA and biomass you collect by killing them. Depending on the species you will get different stats and effects for that clone. Different abilities can be granted to the clones as well if you collect enough of the material to create the relevant ability and be able to grant it to other clones. It’s an interesting mechanic since you can tailor your crew to specific roles but there comes a problem that’s prevalent and that’s that by time you can tailor you crew you will have expanded enough that you won’t really need to get specific with your clones.
The other problem Genesis Alpha One suffers from is the lack of variety in its gameplay. There’s a lot of options on the start screen. You can choose from various corporations to change your ship’a starting equipment, or change your starting crew species and other things when you start a new run. However, when you actually get into the game you’ll find yourself repeating the same tasks for the most part. You’ll scan all the things in your local solar systems, start pulling debris aboard, explore the planets with or without your crew and keep the ship clear of infestations while it’s all put through storage. Refine your things like ores, upgrade your ship, crew and defences and move to the next cluster of systems. Even exploring the planets is extremely limited since you only have a a small area to explore.
I’m not going to say it’s unenjoyable because it is. It’s fun to just go on a game like this, chill out, mine some resources and expand from it. It’s why games like No Man’s Sky and Minecraft are so fun. But there’s the last big problem Genesis Alpha One suffers from. It’s almost as if the game punishes you for growing the size of your ship. Even at the start when I only had about 5 active modules on my ship I had a small alien infestation and poisonous mushroom looking things began to spread through my ship and aliens began to spread through the maintenance shafts. Despite clearing them all out to the best of my knowledge they still cropped up over and over again. This isn’t even including the various other threats to your ship that can crop up. The bigger your ship the more ground these problems have to spread to unless you can very specifically tailor your ship I’d imagine but this is almost impossible since these problems crop up early. Don’t expect much help from the AI either since your crew won’t attack unless something is in the same room as you.
Even though dealing with the problems aboard are extremely annoying and tedious it is also satisfying actually expanding your ship and putting it all together. As you turn your small ship into a giant carrier, having multiple levels to it, using multiple tractor beams to pull all the different debris, or having all the different clone species aboard your ship at once by having greenhouses with different plants providing the suitable atmosphere it’s enjoyable to sit back and enjoy looking at what you built. Putting all the parts together is simple since they snap together at specific points, joined by corridors and elevators to go up or down. Defences can also be arranged around the ship to aid against threats but as mentioned before it’s very frustrating since you can’t truly remove them it seems. If you can then the game definitely doesn’t tell you.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher