Seven years ago, I had high praise for Space Beast Terror Fright, a tense and often intense roguelikelike FPS about exploring alien-infested spaceships. It was murderously punishing, with limited ammo and endless aliens making it important to seal up routes and activate sentry turrets. It was great! Well, SBTF finally left early access and launched in full over the weekend, so I returned today and oh no. I have grown so very old since 2015, and this game is now too much for me. Oh no.
Space Beast Terror Fright draws clear inspiration from Aliens. A motion tracker blip-blips at the bottom of your screen. You can find sentry guns to activate and watch your back. You have a big gun. You’re on a salvage mission into a creaking derelict. But unlike most video games inspired by Aliens, you’re just as squishy as those movie marines. If even one alien reaches you, you’re likely dead. So like the movie, it’s about careful movement, considering your route to escape at the end of a level, closing doors to reduce vulnerability, and, when appropriate, holding down fire and internally shouting RAAAH as you spray bullets down a corridor and aliens pour out of hives and start battering down doors and the sentry gun you were counting on is running out of ammo. It’s good.
Along the way, you level up and randomly gain new abilities, boosting your ammo and thermal vision and such. But if you die, it’s game over, man. Time to pull another marine out of cryosleep.
Since I last played seven years ago, across early access the devs added online and split-screen cooperative multiplayer, reworked level generation, overhauled the art, and more. And since I last played seven years ago, I have grown old. So very old.
Checking out the finished game today, I struggled to survive a few minutes, and now I have a headache. It was always intense, with a claustrophobic view, huge muzzleflashes lighting up dark corridors (it has prominent epilepsy warnings), thermal vision that obscured as much as it revealed, and the camera pulsing in time to motion tracker blips or freaking out when aliens are close, but oh, no, this is too much for me now. I am inept and slow and I can’t see what’s happening and it hurts my eyes. I am officially too old for this video game.
Space Beast Terror Fright was never easy but I was good at it, once. Now, look, watch as I die barely five minutes into a run. I bumbled around, forgot to seal doors behind me, then lost track of everything in a panic and was minced by aliens. Who am I? How did I get to be this old? Will I get even worse than this? My head hurts. Will I die soon? I think I will be grateful when I die soon. Humans weren’t meant to live to the age of 38.
Space Beast Terror Fright is available now on Steam for £11/€15/$15. If you have pals hungry for co-op, you get one copy free when you buy a four-pack. Oh, to be young, and have young friends! I remember those days. By the time I realised they had ended, it was far too late.