Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Insanium (PC) artwork

Insanium (PC) review

"The last thing you hear before being exploded by an angry monkey? Ba-BOOM"

Some of you have never played Concept Softwareís Alien which was released for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC in 1984. For the most part, I suspect most of you have not played Concept Softwareís Alien directly because it was released for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC in 1984. But! Despite its near 40-year lifespan and the now-archaic hardware it calls home, I might offer the argument that youíve been missing out. In fact, screw it, I will! Itís frankly amazing what that game manages to do with so little, and how hard it works on being an authentic companion piece to the seminal film it shares its name with.

Unlike the other Alien game which was just a badly reskinned Pac Man, Concept gave you complete control over the filmís original cast, trapped them in the wireframe guts of the Nostromo, lobbed a xenomorph in there, and then tasked you to help them survive. You would fail. Taking direct cues from the film, the game gave you a familiar set of limitations. For example, you couldnít use firearms because the bastard alien had acid blood that would melt through the hull and kill you all. You couldnít just jump in the lifecraft, because it could only house three people, so that only became an option once enough of the excess crew had been horrifically murdered. But, even when you meet this condition, you canít just blast yourself off into safety because youíll first need to find Jones the cat. Also, remember in the film where the shipís android decided to screw over his meatbag crewmates because The Man saw the financial worth of the alien stowaway? The game replicates that, only it secretly randomises who the backstabbing robot is on your crew. You have to figure that out for yourself, while still offering poor (probably) innocent Ash all of your hate.

By this point, you may be wondering why Iím spending so much time talking about a completely different game to the one Iím supposed to be reviewing. Turns out, I wasnít the only one who was a huge fan of the little Alien game that could; for better and worse, so was the developer of Insanium, who has effectively remade the entire game with a slightly altered premises. What if, instead of a predatory alien, there was a space-mad homicidal ape rampaging around the ship.

To this end, both games share a lot of the same framework. You have a crew trapped on board a craft in the midst of space who need to survive the massive monster trying to pick them off one by one. Some aspects of the original game are kept by Insanium for reasons that donít make a lot of sense beyond die-hard homage. For example, thereís still a randomised traitor on board whoíll screw you over because theyíre a secret member of a society dedicated to the equality of space apes. Also for example! You still have to save a bloody cat. That ginger bastard, Jones, probably got me killed more times than the alien did in the original game. The adorably fluffy arsehole.

But thatís not to say itís a straight copy and paste job. While it does an admirable job of recreating a more accessible version of the graphical era of the original, it also offers four different difficulty levels whereas Alien only had borderline impossible as an option. This means you can start yourself on the easier levels to build a better understanding of the gameís mechanics, dialing up the difficulty as you gain experience. Itís a lot more convenient, because it isnít the type of game you just jump right into and start reaping glory. While you find yourself in control of the entire crew, youíre only able to move each crewmate one at a time. This gives things an almost board game feeling, as you slowly move your pieces into place to try and execute whatever grand plan youíve been putting into place that will soon be destroyed by a flighty cat.

Probably the most notable change is that with the xenomorphís corrosive blood no longer an issue, Insanium offers a new win condition: kill the monkey dead. As such, you can find considerably better weapons than the original supplied; cattle prods and nets are replaced with proper firearms and, at least on the lower difficulties, itís completely viable to search the ship for guns, arm everyone to the teeth, and form a lynch mob. Thereís a very clear chance that you can simply pummel the manic monkey to death. But there's also a very clear chance that itíll show up for any perspective scraps equally well armed. It can both acquire and use the same weapons as you can. This tactic does risk damaging the ship, though, which is rarely a good idea.

Before it was a PC game, it was a comic, which is included with the game. But after it was a comic and before it was a PC game, it was a mobile game, which you can tell, because it still has a few mobile-oriented prompts about, telling you to press the screen to continue and the like. Other than mentioning this to give me a reason to make a petty complaint - itís why I took this job - itís also a useful tie-in when I suggest that perhaps this is a game that lends itself better to a mobile platform. Youíre not going to be burning away entire evenings trying to evade death by monkey, and single games donít tend to last very long. Even if youíre successful, though you wonít be. But wherever you play it, itís an appreciated homage to a game that was ahead of its time, fitted with adjustable training wheels so you can sometimes feel like youíre smarter than an angry cosmic simian, at least for a little while.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 30, 2021)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

More Reviews by Gary Hartley [+]
NFL Quarterback Club (Sega 32X) artwork
Airstrife: Assault of the Aviators (PC) artwork
You Will (Not) Remain (PC) artwork
You Will (Not) Remain (PC)

A clever inside reference.


If you enjoyed this Insanium review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2022 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Insanium is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Insanium, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.