The 8-Bit series of games provides a breezy journey through the world of the real-time strategy genre. 8-Bit Invaders is no exception, much like its two siblings 8-Bit Armies and 8-Bit Hordes. After initially releasing on PC, 8-Bit Invaders has now made the journey to home consoles.
At first glance, 8-Bit Invaders seems to round out the RTS genre trappings of the 8-Bit games as a whole. While 8-Bit Armies was military-based and 8-Bit Hordes was framed around a fantasy world, 8-Bit Invaders sits pretty with some major sci-fi trappings. The obvious comparison is StarCraft, but in reality it's quite different from the occasionally dramatic turn of Blizzard’s strategy series.
Instead, 8-Bit Invaders offers up a clash of ideas. On one side sits the Cranoids, which embody a hokey, 1950's-esque quality that works well. One of the two playable factions in the game, the Cranoids feel similar to the aliens from Mars Attacks!, carrying a sense of science fiction B-movie through its flying saucers, little green men and hulking monsters.
The other faction feels different, however. The Galactic Marine Corps is much better suited to the darker, more serious side of the RTS genre. Big, hulking space marines and mechs stomp around with the traditional soundbites that classic RTS fans will appreciate. That grim, Warhammer-esque style is softened by a colorful approach to unit design, though.
Even though there could be a bit of friction between the factions from a design point of view, the blocky, retro aesthetic of 8-Bit Invaders brings them both together. Players are then left with two sides that appear dissimilar, both in their overall tone and their individual units. 8-Bit Invaders may lack a wide range of playable armies, but at least the two it has are interesting.
The Galactic Marine Corps and the Cranoids play in contrasting ways, too. The speedy, more chaotic style of the Cranoids makes for quick smash-and-grab tactics while the Marines feel more methodical, slower, and harder-hitting. Each is given their own campaign, so players have a fair few levels to get to grips with them.
That said, there's not too much nuance in 8-Bit Invaders to unravel. The game is fairly simplistic by design, with a pick-up-and-play focus that is fine for those after a more laid back approach. The basic structure of most missions is gathering resources at a minimal level - think Command & Conquer tiberium harvesting - and then building enough units to power through for set objectives. There's a nostalgic feel to it that carries through the other 8-Bit games, but some may find it lacks depth.
Each level does contain additional objectives to pick up beyond the core goal. This adds a smidgen of replayability, although it may not be particularly alluring for those who prefer to power through what 8-Bit Invaders has to offer. Since the game works best with some speed to it, some might choose to ignore them altogether.
The fact that 8-Bit Invaders has this less laborious, fast-paced vibe is refreshing, but it doesn't always work. One example of the game floundering is an early level that sees the player tasked with surviving enemy attacks within an arbitrary timeframe. With a little more depth to defensive options it could have been interesting, but within the limits that the early stages set for players it's a major chore.
This turns into a slight problem across the board. Here and there, levels feel a tad too simplistic, whether through an absence of an engaging goal or that nagging feeling that more unit variety might make the experience more thrilling. Most of the time, though, the charm of 8-Bit Invaders is enough to stop this from becoming overbearing.
This is in part due to the fluidity of the console controls. 8-Bit Invaders works well on console, with quick access to building wheels meaning that it never feels clumsy to put together an army. From a combat side, however, targeting a specific enemy can be quite fiddly and the AI is a little on the basic side.
Nonetheless, 8-Bit Invaders is a solid early step into the genre. It's a decent pick for those who haven't played a console RTS before or for those who would prefer quick fun in short bursts over a deep experience. Since that's what 8-Bit Invaders is here for, it could find a bit of love - but those after more will find it wanting.
8-Bit Invaders is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a PS4 download code for the purposes of this review.