Published and developed by Chillyroom, Xeno Command sees players battle alien foes in an exciting strategy roguelike. Players can download the trial version for free, with the complete game. However, while the real-time strategy game has value, its Campaign length and alternative modes leave something to be desired.
Xeno Command’s free trial includes the tutorial, the first Chapter of the Campaign, and one of four playable factions. Each of the three Chapters consists of five Missions. The game procedurally generates most maps, but the objectives are the same every time. Chapter 3 Mission 4 always has players escorting a train on a snowy mountain, for example. Each of the three Chapters has players facing different enemies, including horrific flesh monsters, crystalline lava creatures, and a robot uprising. The difference is more than aesthetics, as each has a unique set of units and structures filling various roles. The robots were particularly troublesome thanks to their jamming towers that block players from using items and abilities.
Commanding and Conquering
The player’s choice of Leader is also important, having unique units and tech trees and lending themselves to different playstyles. Ultimate Captain is perhaps the most well-rounded character, having a good mix of offensive and defensive units, buildings and abilities. Chrono Trouper can teleport her army across the battlefield, and all her units can fly. Fearless Company lacks suitable defensive structures but can switch his units into a fortified defensive stance. Xeno Command players must also manage ammo production if they want to use his abilities and more advanced units. Finally, Dr. Ether relies heavily on his active abilities rather than the strength of his army. Leaders unlock a random set of upgrades when they level up or from some optional objectives. These include buffs to themselves, their troops and their buildings.
Gameplay in Xeno Command is reminiscent of other Command & Conquer-style RTS games. Players start with a base to defend and gather resources for new units and structures. Each faction’s tech tree is short, with only about three buildings and four units each, not counting turrets. However, it is easy to manage, which you want in a fast-paced mobile RTS like Xeno Command. Players can find new resources in crates or by securing supply points like in Company of Heroes. Crates can also contain items like grenades, health, packs and unit upgrades. Players can move their army or prioritize targets by clicking on the screen, but there’s no way to order around individual units. Still, the gameplay is simple but satisfying and challenging enough to keep players on their toes.
Back to the Beginning
While Xeno Command’s Heros respawn if killed, Bases have a single health pool that carries over from Mission to Mission. The player needs to start the whole Chapter over if enemies destroy their Base. However, these chapters feel a bit too long for that, running about 20-40 minutes. It’s pretty disheartening to fail on Mission five and have to repeat half an hour’s worth of gameplay. Ironically, the Campaign as a whole feels too short, with only 15 Missions in all, not counting the tutorial.
Xeno Command also features two Special Campaigns for experienced players. However, I didn’t find either very impressive. Haphazard is a random set of four Missions. It’s enjoyable enough, but there’s not much to say about it since it’s essentially the same experience. Safeguard is a wave survival mode where players must defend their Base from attacks by all three enemy factions. However, the invasions don’t get any stronger with time and the Base is virtually untouchable once the player builds enough turrets. I sat there for almost half an hour doing relatively little before getting too bored to continue.
Chillyroom’s Xeno Command is a fun RTS at its core. However, I came away with mixed feelings about its roguelike elements, which didn’t contribute enough to the core experience. The short Campaign and lackluster special modes didn’t impress me much, either. So, is Xeno Command worth $5? Probably, but I’m not sure if I can manage more than a lukewarm endorsement.
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