Developer: qinglong zeng
Price: FREE
Version: 1.4
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

alienzone05It’s difficult not to be suspicious when checking out a totally out-of-nowhere iOS game that sports some “too good to be true” screen shots. So, of course, I was skeptical when I started up Alien Zone. The name and the rather rough App Store description didn’t exactly bolster my confidence, either. Funny thing is, once I gave it a chance and fought my way through a few levels, I found myself enjoying a surprisingly well put-together futuristic dungeon crawler.

Aliens. They’re like the zombies of the future. At least as far as being cannon fodder for video games goes. And that’s exactly what they amount to in Alien Zone. Players get to select a character – or rather select the only character that’s available unless they want to pay to unlock more – select a level, then start blasting through hordes of hostile extraterrestrials. Like most dungeon crawlers the monsters pile in from just about anywhere and drop various forms of loot once they’ve been dealt with, however the use of skills is something that might take genre veterans a little time to get used to. There’s no magic or stamina meters, but rather individual skills with individual cooldowns. Once an ability is used it’s unavailable for a set time but there’s ultimately no limit to how often it can be triggered. Which is good since enemies are aggressive and plentiful.

Even with the screen shots I wasn’t expecting Alien Zone to look as good as it does. There’s a very impressive amount of detail to the characters and environments. So much so it legitimately bothers me that I can’t bask in the glory of my badass alien hunter anywhere but in the character select menu. There’s also a fair amount of weapons to mess around with, although they’re all guns of some kind or another. My personal favorite is the rifle that comes with a defense-boosting riot shield. There are also some stationary turrets that can be deployed in a pinch but they’re limited and can only be bought through in-app purchases so it’s not a good idea to rely on them. Although they look cool and can really help at times.

alienzone09The one thing that bugs me about Alien Zone is the inventory system. Very few of the styles of equipment make any sense and it’s not always apparent if something is a weapon, accessory, or what. Since the text is so tiny it can also be difficult to figure out what the level requirements are. Not being able to admire the upgraded character models is also a missed opportunity here.

Alien Zone is still rough in spots and not exactly high budget, but it’s still surprisingly great. It’s put together a lot better than some bigger name iOS releases I’ve played, that’s for sure. And it’s plenty of guilt-free fun for dungeoneering fans.


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