Environmental Station Alpha

ESA

The last message sent says to find out what happened to this station and return back. What happened here, is it dangerous?

Environmental Station Alpha is an indie platformer made for Steam. Players that love classic Metroid and Cave Story will find themselves enraptured with this game. In the game you have heavy exploration mixed in with upgrades and unending battles with creatures. The game provides the player with a very large sense of loneliness as they completely alone.

Plot: The player starts on ship headed to the Environmental Station Alpha which has been abandoned for a few decades due to an engine failure. The station was used to preserve unique species and natural environments to develop agriculture methods and new medicine. The ship communicates that it has received signals from the station recently. Casualties want to be avoided so the toughest robot is sent. The ship lands and the player is free to roam around, until you fall into the station. When you land you get one last message “Try to find out what happened and return to us.” This starts the investigation of what happened to the station failure.

Gameplay: The game has the retro feel of classic 8-bit platformers compared to Castlevania and Metroid. When the robot starts it is alone, adding to the fact that it will be having a challenging mission. The controls feel simple and smooth while exploring and battling. Using an Xbox 360 controller really gives an advantage since the game has that capability. Using the map and teleporters when found are easy to utilize. The unlockable items in the game are used to make the robot explore more and find new areas on the map. The game progresses as the robot finds more upgrades required to get into new areas of the station.The items have the player trying at every puzzle available when they get new upgrades, once again giving the feeling of a retro classic.

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Difficulty: This game provides great challenges to any platformer or puzzle lover. Environmental Station Alpha has the player exploring and wanting to find new items to assist in completing areas of the station. Stronger items affect enemies differently or allow for quicker escape On the other hand if the player does not favor these types of games they may end up getting bored or lost frequently due to the constant use of the map or waiting to solve puzzles due to not having the proper tool. Patience is a major part of the difficulty with Environmental Station Alpha giving this game its own uniqueness.

Music: Ambient and Atmospheric music is what artist noby gave this game. The music accompanies the game well and makes the travel and exploration that much more fun. There are parts within the game where as you read more information about the fate of the station the music stops and eerie silence follows as you read the text adding to the fact that the robot is alone on this station. Each area on the station has a different tune to accompany exploration.

Summary: Playing this game brought back some nostalgia for me. I remember playing Metroid and Mario when I was 4 and 5 with my older brothers and getting so excited to complete those games with them. When I was playing Environmental Station Alpha I got that same feeling of wanting to complete the game and loved this game. The game was fantastic on all fronts and I hope that Hempuli will make more games like it. I would suggest that anyone that likes platformers and the feeling of being truly alone, pick this game up.

9/10

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