Infested Planet Review
There is a unique satisfaction in conquering a strategy game. Most major games released today are about creating a spectacle and an almost ADHD take on pacing. Not strategy games, oh no. Strategy games are about careful consideration. They are about being able to survey the battlefield and adapting to what you see.
Strategy games often intimidate new players. There is seemingly unlimited skill cap, but the curve to get there is so sharp that it can take literally days of playtime to become proficient. Infested Planet seems to be the solution to that intimidation.
The best description I can come up with for Infested Planet would be Warhammer 40K meets tower defense. The goal is to keep your base alive against an unending swarm of aliens while simultaneously attacking their bases to stem the swarm.
In order to fight back against the alien menace, Infested Planet has you controlling a squad of five marines. It is in this restriction where the challenge of Infested Planet comes from. It’s often a struggle to find the right balance between advancing your own position and defending the ground you’ve already taken. Every base you capture you convert to your own, giving you small boost to your war funds, but every base you capture is just one more variable that must be accounted for in defending the caverns.
You can automate some of your defenses by building stationary turrets. Placing a turret at a key choke point or intersection would allow you to completely ignore that section of the map for the remainder of your mission, as these turrets are VERY good at keeping the aliens at bay. This is unfortunate, though, because the strategy is so effective that I found myself simply doing it by default at the beginning of every instance.
Infested Planet is not a very deep strategy game. Base building is non-existent, whenever one of your five marines dies they automatically respawn at the nearest friendly base with no negative side effects of death, and resource management is non-committal—allowing you to sell off purchases for a full refund of cost. While all of these factors reduce the strategic options available in Infested Planet, I’m not sure that their exclusion is a negative. As I said at the beginning, many strategy games are intimidating to new players—not so with Infested Planet.
Infested Planet is a streamlined strategy game. It’s fun at times, but it often feels too simple. The few moments where the game manages to surprise you is where the promise really shines through. When I feel like I have full control of the environment and then, for whatever reason, that control is lost, and I’m struggling to recover… that’s the strength of the genre. Unfortunately, it was more the case that the tower defense comparison reared its head and my control remained absolute until I deigned to finish the mission.
Infested Planet was an interesting distraction. I wouldn’t claim that it is game that would satisfy those who live for the strategy genre; however, it just might have a place with a more casual crowd. Limited options available to me while playing didn’t so much take away from my experience, but it did leave me wanting something more, something deeper. If strategy games are something that always scared you, then Infested Planet would be a good place to get your feet wet; if you’re a veteran of the genre then I’d recommend looking elsewhere for your fix.