Flying Extra-Terrestrials is a casual game that has you playing as a UFO tasked with dropping from space, down to the land, picking up farm animals and going all the way back up into space with them to drop them off. As a premise, I’m fine with the idea, this could be a fun sort of casual game. It might even sound like an easy concept, but the controls are just awful and movement is super slow. It takes a full minute to drop from space, to land and back up again for every level. Its about the equivalent of watching paint dry. There is nothing engaging about it, just a long wait between point A B and C over and over again.
The controls are straight up mouse only controls. Move the mouse left and right to tilt the UFO. The right mouse button increases your thrust in the direction you’re tilted and the left mouse button uses your tractor beam. Its very simple that its been done for a decade or so if not longer. It just doesn’t feel good controlling a UFO like this. Maybe its better on mobile devices, but this is a PC. If you have the game in windowed mode, the mouse isn’t bound to the game, so you can accidentally click outside of the window when using mouse only controls and cause the game window to get lost.
It gets worse from there. The mother ship is hovering somewhere in mid space, so you can overshoot the mother ship and hover around the height of space itself looking for it. You’ll need to drop down a bit to find the mother ship and hope its at the height and direction that you’re searching. The only way to tell that you can’t go right or left anymore in space is looking at the stars. You’ll see them stop scrolling, indicating that you’ve reached an invisible wall. It could be worse, the stars could still keep scrolling. Reaching the height of space, acts as a sort of friction to your UFO, making it difficult to move left or right, so you’ll have to drop down anyway to become more efficient.
To top that off, the mother ship is the only place that tells you how many and what kind of farm animals you need. Its not just right there on screen to make it easy for you. So if you pick up two sheep when you still needed three cows, that’s a minute of your life wasted and there is no time limit either. You can sink in as much time as you’d like.
The only limit are the barnyard animals. If you accidentally kill too many, the game will let you know that you’ve failed the level. At least you can restart it again. In fact you can hit the R key to restart the level at any time. The more animals your tractor beam picks up at once, the heavier your ship will become, making your ascent even slower.
Your speed is the key to survival, because after the first level, planes begin to fly at you, then satellites zoom by. You’re not nimble or agile at all, avoiding objects is more or less timing it. Slamming into the ground takes away health, hitting your mother ship will also take damage. Its not like you have a space brake or anything. There’s no real way to stop other than slowing your momentum.
Hitting something when carrying animals, sends them plummeting to their death. Yes I know sad, but what’s worse, being held captive on an alien mother ship or falling to your doom? You be the judge of that one. Sometimes the tractor beam will glitch out and throw an animal up in the air, never to be seen again. The tractor beam’s graphic doesn’t always touch the UFO, its slightly down below it. That’s something that can be fixed easily and should have been years ago.
Getting hit can wipe out half your health and start your space ship smoking. Its a good effect in a game that feels like all vector art, even if its 3D models. That’s the art style I guess. Looking like its cheap vector art. The comic sans font helps the game look “cheap.” If this game didn’t say “powered by Unity,” I’d assume that this was a Flash game from the late 90s and not something that was released in 2012.
Speaking of cheap, the game links you to three websites, all of which have gone belly up within the past two or three years. One of which has some awful spam on it. Not every game developer stays a game developer until the end of time, but I think at some point in the PC age that a developer can at least remove the buttons to those dead websites.
FET is broken up into three chapters, with only one available, because the other two are “coming soon.” The first chapter has thirty-six painfully slow levels to get through. Every second of this game feels like a chore that I could be doing anything else that is entertaining. Watching the seconds tick by as I drop from space and go back. That’s what the game really becomes, a test of how long you can endure doing something so boring with awful controls.
I’m happy that FET keeps track of your high score for each level, but its the only game that I can think of where your score dips into negative numbers. It just feels like this was a rushed project thrown out the door after a game jam, which is fine, but someone should have spent time polishing it and ensuring that its fun and not a battle against boredom.
I hate to use this game as a punching bag so much. I just wish the ship was more agile or it took less time to go back and forth. Your ship is very brittle and can be brutalized pretty easy by the planes and satellites. If I wanted to go crazy with ideas, have a slow time mechanic or a gun with automatic targeting. The gun thing might be a little much and gets away from the simplicity of just stealing cows. Its just not a fun game and something needs to be done to improve it.