1917 - The Alien Invasion DX

A game by Andrade Games for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch, originally released in 2016.
1917 - The Alien Invasion is a shmup that takes place during the days of World War I, in an alternate history where aliens have invaded Earth, their ships suddenly appearing in the skies and laying waste to everything, killing soldier and civilian alike. As a result, the war comes to a swift end as Axis and Allied powers begin working together to face this new threat, which is led by a villainous creature calling itself the Chessmaster.

You take on the role of Dr. Brunhield Stahlmüller, a “weapon scientist” who outfits a Raumdecker Red Beezlebub triplane with alien technology and takes to the skies to face down the alien onslaught herself, despite having no flight combat experience. Fortunately, this upgraded aircraft is also capable of interstellar travel, as the new pilot’s mission takes her from the German city of Verdun into the void of space, and eventually to the homeworld of the alien menace.

The game features five increasingly difficult levels of medium length, each terminating in a boss encounter. While early levels may be completed quickly by experienced players, later levels require some memorization of enemy placement and bullet patterns in order to survive.

Players are given infinite continues – restarting levels from scratch when killed – but a counter keeps track of the number of deaths. This encourages players to return to the game to work toward a 1CC run, and players are free practice any of their previously-visited levels, which are accessible from the main menu.

The plane is equipped with a primary forward-firing weapon, which may be upgraded by collecting “P” icons, allowing for more bullets in a wider spray with up to five power levels. A secondary weapon fires a more powerful concentrated blast, which is simultaneously upgraded along with the primary weapon. This heavy weapon offers a haphazard spray of bullets that pushes the ship backward and slows down its movement speed. However, the player may press UP to stabilize his craft and concentrate firepower directly ahead, making the weapon particularly effective against slow armored foes and bosses.

The player also has a bomb which sends out three Valkyries, simultaneously negating onscreen bullets while destroying most enemies and severely weakening bosses. However, the player only has access to a single bomb per life, acting primarily as a last resort, and making it most effective when holding it until the end-level boss encounter. Lastly, the player may collect “S” icons, which appear with great frequency, allowing the ship engage a shield and sustain a single hit of damage without being destroyed.

The game is primarily a score-driven affair with a combo counter racking up as the player destroys multiple enemies in succession. If the player goes too long without hitting an enemy, the combo meter is reset. The player may also collect red keys that prevent the meter from draining as long as his plane is not destroyed, and this effect is persistent between levels.

Green keys unlock the combo meter, allowing the player to risk his multiplier for greater rewards by increasing it further and locking it again, allowing for a good deal of strategy during high score runs. A few additional scoring opportunities come in the form of collecting medals that move down the screen from certain destroyed enemies, as well as collecting additional “S” and “P” icons when the player’s shield is active and weapons maxed out.

With infinite lives and an emphasis on scoring, players simply looking to make progress through the game will find it fairly easy, with the final level readily accessible to new players on their first attempt. That said, the game is not without challenge, particularly given the fact that bosses spew gobs of fast-moving projectiles that are difficult to avoid with the ship’s slow movement speed.

In addition, if the player is killed at the end-level boss, he must replay the entire level. And, while the shield will protect the ship from bullets and direct contact from enemies, it is useless against physical barriers such as spinning asteroids and solid walls. The final level is packed with impassible objects that don’t contrast greatly with the background, creating dangerous narrow corridors filled with enemies and bullets, and leaving the player little room to dodge.

Aesthetically, the game shares much in common with the developer’s previous effort, SturmFront - The Mutant War, with some grotesque enemy designs, large sprays of blood (especially at the ends of boss fights), an abundance of dark colors, and a Doom-style visual representation of the main character in the lower left corner that occasionally reacts to the onscreen action.

1917 - The Alien Invasion DX
About six months after the release of the game, the developers updated it with a new version entitled 1917 - The Alien Invasion. The DX version offers three additional levels, bringing the total to eight. These new levels are somewhat more difficult than those in the original release as they are placed beyond what was once the game’s final boss, and they are representative of a twisted and psychically altered reality of the aliens’ home world. As such, they have a higher concentration of gore and sexualized enemy creatures.

The three new boss encounters feature a higher concentration of bullets, but they are still worn down quickly by the player’s strong bullet-cancelling Valkyrie attack, and most allow the player to hover near the bottom-center of the screen for maximum impact from his weaponry. Additionally, these bosses are flanked by secondary creatures that drop shield icons when destroyed, allowing the player plenty of room to make mistakes.

The DX version of the game also features four playable planes (including the original), with two unlocked from the start. Each plane has a different configuration for primary and secondary fire, thus requiring differing strategies on the part of the player. While the original plane featured an upgradeable wide shot and concentrated forward firepower for the secondary weapon, the second plane sacrifices movement speed – especially when using the secondary weapon – and delivers a wide primary fire and a secondary fire that also shoots projectiles to the left and right. This configuration makes it more difficult to deliver heavy firepower at heavy duty enemies.

One of the unlockable planes offers high speed movement but a very narrow range of fire from the primary weapon. This is balanced by a versatile secondary weapon that fires straight forward by default, but can also fire bullets at an angle that is adjusted as the player moves up and down the screen. In trade, this ship is unable to equip a shield and is therefore recommended for expert players.

1917 - The Alien Invasion was developed by Sebastian de Andrade under the Andrade Games label, and he is based in Heidelberg, Germany. Music and sound were composed by Michael de Andrade. This is the developer’s second release, following SturmFront - The Mutant War. The developer also went on to create Heidelberg 1693.