1917: The Alien Invasion is a retro style scrolling shooter that combines fast and frantic action in a bullet storm hell of a shoot ’em up. The game is a port of the 2016 PC release making its way onto the Nintendo Switch, which is fast becoming the new home for all things indie.
The game sets out with war engulfing Earth leaving billions slaughtered at the hands of unprecedented technology in the name of fanaticism. Yet all previous atrocities were as preambles to an even greater, unforeseeable catastrophe. On the 15th of April, a host of aliens descended from war-torn skies and opened fire indiscriminately on soldier and civilian alike, the foundations of the world were shaken and mankind would face his darkest hour. Against such a terrifying, overwhelming foe, the scrambling, exhausted nations of Earth had no choice but to put aside their old grudges and fight side by side if they wanted to avert total extinction – or worse. Still, courage and unity were not enough to match the sheer power of a species so advanced that the very cosmos proved no obstacle to them.
You take on the role of Dr. Brunhild Stahlmüller, an accomplished weapon scientist who has been working tirelessly with her assistant, Harmuth Griesgram, on developing an experimental airplane codenamed the Red Beezlebub. Based on existing WW1 aeronautical technology boosted with fragments of alien spacecraft wrecks, this new invention is capable of prolonged atmospheric flight as well as deep, interstellar travel. Finding no pilots left in any condition – bodily or mentally – to take the pilot seat, the brave doctor dons the helmet herself and takes the Red Beezlebub on her virgin flight to the battlefields of Verdun. Her target, The Chessmaster, the new, self-crowned king of humanity. Fueled by gasoline and hatred, her Valkyrie’s flight will end either in blood-soaked victory or glorious death. Little did she know that he himself is only a piece on the real player’s board, and she is watching Brunhild’s every move with greedy, leering eyes.
The game plays out much like any other scrolling shooter, running vertically upwards with borders either side of the playing area. These are neatly used to display key information in the form of a total score, the number of deaths, combos and how many special Valkyrie attacks you have to play around with. It offers a challenging, fast pace and mostly fun experience. The controls work well with a simple input set up to allow for the lightning-quick response times needed in order to survive each incoming enemy wave, it can be relentless at times so stay focused.
1917 also has a lot of content to collect and unlock while playing from weapon upgrades, score combos to the all-important shield orbs. I found that these were essential if wanting to beat a level as the barrage of enemy fire was unstoppable at times. As progression is made through the 10 story levels you also get the option to unlock new and improved aircraft, each with its own set of handy abilities.
For anyone that enjoys fast, frantic action that can be played on the go in short bursts 1917 does the job well. Its unique setting adds to its appeal without getting in the way of core gameplay, get ready to take to the skies and die…
Beard Score: 6/10
Genre: Action, Arcade, Shooter
Release: 22/06/2018 (Switch)
Format: Steam, Nintendo Switch