Sometimes you'll see a trailer or read a description for a game and it just... speaks to you. Let Them Come is one such game. It slipped past us onto Xbox One and PC a couple of months back, but last week we found out more about it when it landed on PS4, and thus we decided to take a closer look and see what it has to offer. And we're glad that we did, because this is a fun little pixelart shooter with plenty of swagger and a clever gameplay hook.
Tuatara Games clearly adores alien-infested sci-fi, because Let Them Come is a bit of a love letter to the sub-genre (if you can call it that). There's a narrative in there somewhere, hidden in the menus if you can be bothered to find it, but otherwise, the premise is refreshingly simple; you are the last line of defence against a seemingly endless wave of alien beasties. And while that's pretty much it, it's enough for a game that costs around a fiver and does exactly what it sets out to do.
The action all takes place in corridors (the backgrounds are different as you progress, but it's ultimately the same corridor), with aliens running right to left, and our grizzled soldier standing behind a turret and returning fire as the enemies descend. You've got a fairly narrow bottleneck to take aim at, but these strange creatures will happily crawl on the ceilings and hop through the air, mixing things up constantly to keep those crosshairs going up and down.
The quirky graphics are pleasantly responsive to the bullets that fly across the screen, with pixelated blood splatter of various colours erupting everywhere, and face hugger-like beasties disintegrating on contact with well-aimed bullets. Those creatures that are able to jump over bullets can, if you time it just right, be swiped away with a swing of your combat knife, and you can also unlock grenades and lob them at groups of aliens if you need to do a bit of crowd control.
As you burn through bullets and enemies alike you unlock credits that you can then spend between attempts. You can spend in bulk to unlock powerful new abilities, and then top up those investments by stocking up on ammo. There are passive buffs, things like improved health and upgraded weapons, and you can also unlock a weapon mod that effectively turns your machine gun into a shotgun. Beyond that, there are a range of grenade and ammo upgrades, letting you choose between armour piercing and explosive-tipped shells. Once you've unlocked what you want (a nice touch: you can get a refund on previous unlocks if you're not using something and want to try a different build) you then head back to your turret and prepare for the next wave.
It's relentless stuff, and the aliens keep on coming until eventually enough attacks get past your defences and your skull is sliced open by a bladed xeno-limb. There are some difficulty spikes in there, but that's clearly by design, and thanks to the ability to reconstruct your build between runs, you can change things up and try different ways of challenging waves of enemies and the gruesome end of level boss battles. And therein lies the rub: you can mix things up and equip new gear to suit the challenge ahead, which is particularly helpful during the boss battles.
Alternatively, you can save up your credits and then, when you get a bonus ability as you do from time to time, you can spend big and stock up on ammo and hunker down for an extended run. Our favourite bonus was getting a drone which adds a second spray of bullets to your own and makes some of the more challenging moments much more manageable. You advance at a steady rate, and every time you die (and you'll die often) you only have to replay the wave you're currently on, which certainly keeps things moving at a decent pace.
The pixelart visuals are good enough to compensate for any limitations their presence brings to the table, and we certainly enjoyed some of the more colourful creations we encountered during our time with the game. Just as fun is the soundtrack, which is all kinds of pumping, and we appreciated the effect it had on the gameplay even if it's not normally our cup of tea. You can even unlock tunes as you play, so once you're happy with your loadout and you've got money to spare, you can always buy some new tracks.
All told we enjoyed Let Them Come. It's a little limited in terms of scope, but like the corridors you'll be shooting down, the narrow focus doesn't matter because everything works and there are some subtle design decisions that keep things from getting too repetitive. It's not a classic, and it's not a universal recommendation, but if you like the idea of shooting pixelart alien beasties down a corridor and you've got a couple of coins in your pocket that you're happy to part with, it's unlikely you'll be disappointed by what the game has to offer, limited as that may be.