I finished up Shadowgrounds Survivor this morning. It was on sale a couple of weekends ago on Valve’s Steam software distribution service for only $5. I had played the demo some time ago and liked it but hadn’t gotten around to spending the ~$20 to buy it, so when it came up for only $5 I jumped on it. By and large the game is worth $20 though there are some annoying glitches to be found playing through it.
It’s an old school action arcade game with some light RPG elements layered onto it. The plot is a riff on the old ‘aliens that look like the aliens from the movie aliens attack a space colony’ which has been riffed on any number of times, but it’s done competently enough and you can pretty much skip through it directly to the alien blasting action if you want. Controls are straightforward – mouse to rotate/aim and shoot and WASD/arrow keys to move your character around. Over the course of the game you get to use and level up three characters – a marine with a lot of firepower, a drunken russian with a flamethrower, and a lithe little assassin with some stealthy and long distance firepower. There isn’t much variety in terms of enemy types, but the game is about the blasting of the hordes and this never bothered me. The graphics themselves are pretty good:
There were two major technical issues with the game. The first had to do with the camera. Often as you entered a level the camera would swoop around in an in-game cinematic, and this would sometimes then get stuck in a weird location leaving you unable to see the action, or even worse, sometimes after the cinematic I’d find my character trapped in the level geometry and unable to move or stuck in a confined area. Reloading from my last save always seemed to clear this up. The second problem was worse – there is a known save game corruption bug with the game which would always happen as you transitioned into a new level and would crash the game. This one is really annoying. There’s a workaround to this problem on the forums over on steampowered.com that involves downloading known non-corrupt save game files. I suspect this one would have pissed me off more had I paid more than $5 for the game, but for what I paid…ehh, I more than got my money’s worth.