"We are not alone, be careful," says our personal AI as we descend to the surface of a potential home colony-appropriate planet. High volcanic activity can be detected and high levels of radiation could make the mission difficult, but at least the temperature feels more like home than the void of space ever could.
In 100Hr Games' sci-fi strategy title Artificial Extinction, you assume the role of a lone colonist looking for a planet to call home before reuniting with his family. The colonist has a time limit to work with and the planets you get to investigate and extract resources from aren't always the most serene and peaceful rocks floating out there in space. In fact, they're quite the opposite, with destructive and hostile robots and AI lifeforms roaming the surface. To deal with the various threats, you have an AI companion by your side at all times, and they help you by guiding you through resource management, repairing and preparing structures, spotting danger and warning you of incoming threats, and researching tactical weaponisation options.
The game is set up as a tactical, strategic simulator of sorts and is viewed from the perspective of the colonist and, as such, the gameplay is simple. You heed the advice from your AI drone, look for and extract resources such as iron, energy (your main two on-sight resources, letting you build defences, build more miner equipment, heal, repair, and craft ammo) and fuel (which lets you leave the surface for a different planet). However, while you're minding your own business, collecting what you need to build a home with your family on seemingly derelict planets, you will encounter hostiles and various robotic threats.
The bots come at you in hordes and you dispose of these by simply managing your resources well enough to build adequate defences all while you collect enough of the resources you need to get the hell out of there. The enemies come in waves and tend to focus on neutralising your defences prior to honing in on you, giving you some time (should you manage your resources wisely) to keep your turrets in top shape, your miners at work, and your claymores active. You'll also be able to hop into battle yourself, so while Artificial Extinction is a tactical management game at its core, it's also an intense FPS experience alongside it.
That blend of building and shooting makes for an interesting game that offers a new take on the strategy genre, and while it does get repetitive, it's good fun to play in short spurts. The visuals are nice, and while they're not mindblowing, they're definitely a feast for the senses when combined with the soothing yet intense soundtrack. There's also something about the narrative of the game that's oddly compelling. How far away from these types of man vs machine battles are we in reality and will it ever come to this? Only time will tell, but until then, Artificial Extinction could be worth your time if you're looking to battle against drones, robots and AI systems.
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