Artificial Extinction is a first-person tower defense game developed and published by indie developer 100Hr Games. AI have taken over and you must flee to a new planet to carve out a new home for you and your family. There is a catch, however. Your family is nine days behind and the planet you discover is littered with killer AI robots that aren’t too happy about your arrival. In order to survive, you must fight off the constant flow of robots until you can escape.
The goal of each level or “day” is to gather enough fuel for your ship so you can leave and find a new location. Turrets of varying types serve as your main line of defense and you’re accompanied by a flying AI drone who assists you in your fight by repairing damaged turrets. The gameplay also blends elements of typical FPS survival gameplay with tower defense games by giving you a few weapons to wield.
You must completely fill your ship’s fuel tank in order to finish a level. While you are gathering fuel, you will also need to construct defensive turrets to protect your base as well as mine for metal to construct more turrets. Each day lasts about 30-40 minutes, meaning the entirety of the game can be completed in about 4 hours.
Looking Good, I Guess?
It is very obvious that this game was created in Unreal Engine 4 with either free or very inexpensive textures and assets. The game looks passable enough and you are given a wide array of graphical settings to mess with. However, the biggest problem is that the game just looks and feels incredibly generic. All of the turret designs are nearly identical and the majority of the robots look like they had their assets ripped from a Half-Life 2 knock-off. The only aspect of the game’s visual design that I would consider to be pleasing are the large open landscapes that appear to go on forever in the distance. Other than that, the game looks like a free UE4 tech demo from 2014.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Rep…
This game is repetitive, plain and simple. Place mines, place turrets, shoot at slow moving robots, escape in your ship, and repeat. I found myself feeling completely unmotivated to continue playing by the 5th level of the game. The game tries to introduce new enemies but they’re often just re-skins of old enemies but with rockets. It also doesn’t help that the enemies don’t come in waves like most tower defense games. You get about a minute or two to get your base set up and then it’s a non-stop flow of slow moving tanks for about the next half hour. The controls are also very clunky. Trying to run around your base to upgrade or build new turrets is time consuming and not very fun. Overall the game just feels like a chore to play.
Son of a Glitch
Artificial Extinction is glitchy. I only experienced one game-breaking bug in my first play-through, however there were plenty of smaller ones peppered throughout. Sometimes my rifle scope wouldn’t actually zoom in — instead it would just put the scope overlay over the screen. When I placed a new mine, it would occasionally send another one flying across the map. The game also seemed to be unreasonably hard on my graphics card. The Artificial Extinction store page recommends a GTX 1060. However, my RX 5700XT managed to average a measly 111 FPS at medium-high settings at 1080p. In comparison, the visually stunning Jedi: Fallen Order runs at a smooth 144 FPS on Ultra settings at 1080p on that card. Both games were built with Unreal Engine 4, which leads me to believe that Artificial Extinction is just not optimized very well.
Crank it Down
The music in Artificial Extinction is very similar to its visual style: generic. The soundtrack is a mix of techno-synth tunes that play on repeat through each level. I couldn’t hum a tune of any of the songs after an entire play through because all the tracks were completely forgettable. There isn’t much else to say about the music in all honesty. It’s there, it’s mediocre, and that’s about it.
To summarize, Artificial Extinction is visually mediocre and generic in terms of its design and graphics. The gameplay is repetitive and loses what little charm it had after the first two levels. The music suffers from the same blandness as its visuals and the game doesn’t run all that well. Keeping these things in mind, the game also costs $19.99 USD. I was given a review code provided by 100Hr Games but personally, I would be even more upset with my experience had I payed $20 for this game. There is an upside to all of this though: the developer has committed to putting out updates to fix technical issues and to improve the user experience.
But at the moment, Artificial Extinction feels like it should exist in the $2.99 – $4.99 impulse-buy price range. I would not recommend this game at its current $20 price point.
- THE GOOD
- Interesting Concept
- Developer Committed to Updates
- THE BAD
- Repetitive Gameplay
- Forgettable Soundtrack
- Slightly Overpriced
- Still too many bugs