Aliens have been a subject of our video games from the very start, after all, games like Space Invaders and first Metroid games are the literal pioneers of the industry. It is very meta, in a sense, that they would take space and aliens as their subjects. But today, we won’t be going back in time. I could wax nostalgic about old arcade and console games for hours, but today I’m here to see how the subject matter evolved as it certainly lost its popularity lately. Has it lost the edge though? Well, we’ll find out.

This is a updated top 20 list of video games with aliens and space as a theme, belonging to no particular genre. Because of this, they will appeal to very different tastes, so there is no particular order to this one. And now let me take you… To the stars!

20. Crysis series

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
Switch
Release year:2007 (Crysis), 2011 (Crysis 2), 2013 (Crysis 3)
DeveloperCrytek,Crytek UK, Crytek Budapest

The original Crysis remains famous for its hardware-melting potential system requirements, and, to a lesser degree, the fun players can have with the nanosuit, a powered armour granting the player character several powerful abilities. All of which will come in handy when you’re fighting alien invaders called Ceph in both a literal and an urban jungle across several games.

Crysis Remastered graphic comparision

Technically the Ceph aren’t new invaders, given that they’ve been around for a long time, but the Crysis games detail their recent resurgence and their new attempt to take over the world. While the original Crysis and expansion Crysis Warhead the events take place on forested islands near Philippines, but Crysis 2 and 3 take the action to New York, now largely taken over by the Ceph.

Key features
  • Ancient aliens which are behind a certain extinction event millions of years ago
  • The nanosuit is a really fun addition to the typical gunplay and stealth
  • It will use all of your system’s resources if you let it
  • The original game was good an memorable enough to get a remake

19. Destroy All Humans!

PC
PS2
PS4
X360
XOne
Release year:2005 (original), 2020 (remake)
DeveloperPandemic Studio (original), Black Forest Games (remake)

In Destroy All Humans! is a rare game where you play as an alien, a classic Roswell grey. You know the type: short stature, big head, huge eyes, a typical Grey. Aside from the one expressed in the game’s titles, your task is collecting human genetic material. It contains old, uncorrupted DNA of your own species, which is going to be very useful for the cloning process that keeps your people alive and capable of conquering the galaxy.

destroy all humans remake 2020

The game is rooted in the aesthetic and themes of science fiction stories and artwork from the 1950s and 1960s, which is fitting, given the game in set in 1959, although with a strongly satirical and comedic attitude. You get a flying saucer, anal probes, disintegration rays and even psychic powers. It’s a complete package, and it makes the game feel a bit like the “Mars Attacks” movie, but playable.

Key features
  • Inspired by the SF of 1950s and 1960s, including the Roswell incident
  • Full of cheeky humour
  • 2020 remake updates the visuals without harming the style
  • It’s “alien vs humans”, not “human vs aliens” this time

18. Elite Dangerous

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year:2014
DeveloperFrontier Developments

Elite Dangerous is a huge game. Set in the 34th century, this sci fi, space-age simulator features hundreds of star systems you can fly to, explore, and ply your trade in. There are space dogfights to have, and credits to earn. There are also aliens integrated into the backstory of Elite: Dangerous’ world by the virtue of previous games in the series. They are called Thargoids, and their technology is based on biomechanic designs.

Elite: Dangerous - gameplay

During the events of ED they are making another attempt at conquering the human-occupied space, and it’s mostly up to the players to see how that goes. Their spaceships looks nothing like human vessels, making for surprisingly threatening silhouettes when they emerge over a planet. Hopefully your ship and your allies are up for a hard fight if you want to take them down.

Key features
  • A massive space simulation running in real time
  • Thargoids come back from previous games in the series
  • There are a few factions to work with or against
  • Several ways to play, including solo if you want to

17. Endless Space 1 & 2

PC
Switch
Release year:2012 (ES1), 2017 (ES2)
DeveloperAmplitude Studios

Endless Space games are a series (of two games at the time of writing) or 4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) games set in an explicitly science fiction, high0-technology space setting. At the beginning of each game you get to pick the nation you’re going to lead turn-by-turn to glorious future among the stars, and while you have human nations, there are also many alien flavours.

endless space video game

In the first game there are for example the diplomatic Amoeba, or the Harmony populated by living crystals. The second game brings people like the Cravers, essentially living weapons, or the curious and highly advanced Sophons. Each species has different affinities, making them suitable to certain playstyles more than to others as you try to conquer new systems or extend gentle influence.

Key features
  • Plenty of alien species to pick across both games
  • Engaging 4X games in a science fiction setting
  • Two games with fantastic replayability
  • Have a connection to other games from the Endless series

16. FTL: Faster Than Light

PC
Release year:2012
DeveloperSubset Games

As a nice off-brand Star trek game it can be taken for, FTL: Faster Than Light has a number or aliens you’re going to see both on your own crew and during your adventures. If you want to, you can make your team composed fully of aliens, each of them perfect for a different task, such as the Zoltan who, being composed of energy, can power some subsystem of your ship. Weird, but effective.

ftl-faster-than-light-game-30-10-2019.jpg

Your mission In FTL is to deliver critical information to your fleet seemingly on the other side of the known space. The problem is that you’re hunted by the forces of the xenophobic rebels your faction is fighting against. There are several sector to jump through, each with twenty waypoints, and all are going to be procedurally generated to make each playthrough unique and refreshingly challenging.

Key features
  • Every playthrough is different thanks to procedural generation
  • Pixelated style
  • You’re a captain of a space ship, which is always nice
  • Plenty of text-based vignettes to give you a chance to roleplay and make important decisions

15. Halo series

PC
Xbox
X360
XOne
Release year:2001 (Halo: Combat Evolved) – 2018 (Halo: Fireteam Raven)
DeveloperBungie, Ensemble Studios, 343 Industries, Creative Assembly

The Halo franchise is one of the most popular, and most successful, science-fiction video game series, with a detailed world with a lot of history, and a lot of conflict between the forced of humanity, with power armour-clad Spartans as its poster children, against an alien empire called the Covenant. Normally aliens are target practice, but occasionally they are allies, or even playable factions.

Halo Infinite (Halo 6)

There are several alien species present in the Covenant, such as the short-statured Unggoy, perceptive Kig-Yar or the leading species, the San’Shyuum, nicknamed Prophets by Human forces. A lot of the conflict in the series revolves around the technology of an ancient species, the Forerunners, such as the Halo Array hiding the secret of defeating the Flood, a parasitic alien species.

Key features
  • Excellent series of, mainly, first-person shooters
  • Plenty of alien species to interact with, aggressively or otherwise
  • The original games were re-released with refreshed graphics
  • Lots of supplementary material detailing the settings backstory

Check Halo games available on G2A.COM

14. Into the Breach

PC
Switch
Release year:2018
DeveloperSubset Games

Into The Breach is a compact turn-based game about protecting the Earth from the onslaught of Vek, massive aliens easily comparable to kaiju, which is only fitting, given that you’re fighting them with the help of a massive mechanised walker. And although the game is presented in a minimalistic form: an eight-by-eight grid, there is a great sense of scale thanks to tiny cities and landscape features.

Into the Breach - gameplay

The Vek come in many shapes and sizes, including the variants: minions, Alphas, and the Leaders. Most Vek looks like arthropods: scorpions, spiders, a beetles, etc., all grown to immense sizes. Thankfully you can skilfully crowd-control them so that not oly they present a smaller threat to infrastructure you’re protecting, but also, with luck, killing them with the environment.

Key features
  • Plenty of alien bugs to kill
  • Chess with mechs, kaiju, and environmental hazard
  • Simple, but evocative presentation
  • Interesting take on time travel supporting gameplay

13. Saints Row IV

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
Switch
Release year:2013
DeveloperVolition

The Saints Row games aren’t normally associated with aliens. They are about gangs, occasionally weird humour, and being a more light-hearted Grand Theft Auto. When aliens came in SR4, it was a wild idea, which pretty much paid off, because thanks to the introduction of the Zin Empire and its technology we got to play around with superpowers, in a virtual reality the protagonist can enter.

Saints Row IV: Game of the Century Edition - gameplay

Your nemesis in the game is an alien warlord called Zinyak, who, in addition to being a towering alien with strength and fighting skill to match, is a very eloquent and cultured, as opposed to the Boss, who’s famously rather vulgar and rough around the edges. Regardless, you’ll fight through legion of Zinyak’s Zin troops both in the simulation and in real space.

Key features
  • Saints Row with aliens and superpowers
  • One of the funniest opening acts in video games
  • Playable in co-op
  • Parodies quite a few tropes from the gaming world

12. Star Wars games

PC
PS3
PS4
X360
XOne
…and virtually any other
Release year:1983 – infinity
DeveloperMany of them

Star Wars as a setting is full of aliens of all shapes and sizes, many of them having a vaguely humanoid silhouette. As almost anything in the expended Star Wars universe, most species have detailed biological and cultural background, especially ones that appear in clear view in movies and games. There are dozens of SW games, so we’re going to present three which feature aliens a lot.

Star Wars Squadrons

The first two come from the same series: Knights of the Old Republic. As role-playing games, they feature a lot of interaction with NPCs, which can also be your crewmates, such a Twi’Lek teen Mission, or a Zabrak engineer Bao Dur. The other game is a more recent one, Jedi: Fallen Order which will have you interact (through fighting, mostly) with many aliens, sentient or otherwise.

Key features
  • Dozens of Star Wars games to pick from
  • Numerous alien species sharing the galaxy
  • In RPGs such as KotOR you get to have alien companions on your ship
  • In Jedi Academy you can even play AS an alien

Check Star Wars Games available on G2A.com

11. Spore

PC
Release year:2008
DeveloperMaxis

Spore was quite famous around the time of release, because it promised great things. Chief among them an opportunity to design your own alien lifeform and take on an evolutionary journey from a basic organism to galactic conquerors. Although it has cartoonish visual style, the alien-maker subsystem is truly powerful, and allows the players to make really impressive, detailed life forms.

Spore - characters

Another cool thing about Spore is that you could upload your creations to the game’s servers, and your creations could feature in somebody else’s game, as a rival species as they explore the world or the galaxy. No matter how crazy the creations wouldn’t be, the game would do its best to use each body part according to its purpose, resulting in crazy-looking aliens moving like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Key features
  • Nearly unlimited freedom in creating your alien species
  • You can play through an alien species’ entire evolutionary line
  • Other people’s designs will pop up in your own game
  • Aesthetic which makes the game good for kids

10. No Man’s Sky

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2016
DeveloperHello Games

Many men fly. No Man’s Sky is a game that became a hotbed of controversy due to one Sean Murray. It was initially underwhelming, to say the least, missing a lot of the advertised features. However, the team kept working on it, steadily adding features and tweaking the game until it actually became really good and full of content.

10. No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is a co-operative space survival sim. You can gather increasingly rare and difficult to obtain resources to craft new vehicles, build bases and tools and explore the galaxy with self-made ships to complete quests for various alien factions. There’s a really fantastic variety to the kind of biomes and creatures you will encounter, and with a couple of friends at your side, it successfully conveys the spirit of space pioneering.

Key features
  • Massive universe full of procedurally generated planets
  • Extensive post-launch support
  • It allows you to become an explorer and even name your discoveries
  • You can customise your ship and equipment

9. Gears of War 4

PC
XOne
Release year2016
DeveloperThe Coalition

To the dismay of Games Workshop, one cannot copyright a chainsaw. Shifting somewhat in tone, we have a fantastic third person shooter from Microsoft and one of their flagship IPs. The Gears series remains a solid staple of gaming, with virtually every iteration bringing something new to the table. Here, the aliens are vicious and powerful invaders whose design is truly worthy of pangalactic villains.

9. Gears of War

Gears of War is about one thing—brutal action. This is the kind of game where you’re supposed to feel like a grizzled badass as you pit your human spirit against the filthy xenos and hack them to pieces with chainsaw mounted on your gun. And with the next game in the series scheduled to arrive on 2019, it may be wise to pick this one up and see what the… Buzz is about (I apologize, I really do).

Key features
  • Aliens in the form of invaders from beneath the surface
  • A great series of third-person cover-based shooters
  • Memorable characters
  • Great co-op

8. Prey

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2017
DeveloperArkane Studios

A psychological horror… In space! Published by Bethesda and taking a whole lot after the Bioshock series, Prey is a very nuanced experience. On top of pretty unique aliens, who over the course of the game are very mysterious, Prey explores a lot of the sci-fi storytelling staples like simulation theory and inverts the “are we alone out here” question by framing aliens as creatures capable of assuming the form of any object.

Prey alien game

Prey does a lot of things, but like Bioshock, it’s primarily a puzzle-filled FPS, with an interesting and occasionally profound narrative. It can be both very suspenseful and very satisfying, what with how it realizes player movement and its alien designs are really unique in the medium.

Key features
  • Disturbing, amorphous aliens called „Typhon”
  • Developed by experts at immersive sims: Arkane Studios
  • You get several interesting tools for problem solving
  • Great science fiction story

7. Dead Space 3

PC
PS3
X360
Release year2013
DeveloperVisceral Games

Actual horror… In space! Developed by now unfortunately defunct Visceral, Dead Space is a series that is nothing if not true to the name. More so than anything, it takes the idea of cosmic horror, claustrophobia and paranoia to the extreme. Dead Space is right up there with Amnesia in the group of horror games that managed to worm their way into the mainstream despite the niche nature of the genre.

7. Dead Space 3

The initial gimmick that made the first game stand out was the nature of combat. See, the way you have to approach the dreadful, alien enemies of the game, is by targeting their razor sharp appendages. This different approach fundamentally changes how you have to play the game and this formula has been perfected to a fine edge, making the 3rd entry the most polished entry and the fine capstone for the series.

Key features
  • The aliens are a fantastic amalgam of gruesome undead and John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • You’re playing as Isaac Clarke, an engineer with the worst luck
  • An interesting dismemberment system
  • Your weapons are engineering tools

6. Alien: Isolation

PC
PS3
PS4
XOne
Switch
Release year2014
DeveloperCreative Assembly

This is definitively what Ridley Scott had in mind. You are of course well aware of the Alien movies, the legendary series of horror films that had a huge impact on the medium. They’ve had a rather… Spotty relationship with video games. They manage to bring some real gems, but also some real stinkers. This one though, oh, this one is the former.

6. Alien: Isolation

In the same vein of Dead Space, Alien: Isolation is a horror game through and through. You’re locked on the ship with the fast, deadly and most importantly: amazingly intelligent alien xenomorph and you have to escape. The difficulty is brutal and the sheer tension manages to perfectly capture the spirit of the Alien movie.

Key features
  • A great spin-off from the classic movie franchise
  • You play as Ellen Ripley’s daughter
  • The Xenomorph is properly terrifying
  • There a bit of crafting

5. Starcraft 2

PC
Release year2010
DeveloperBlizzard Entertainment

Tactical masterpiece that captivated generations of players. Ah, yes, how could I not mention one of Blizzard’s flagships and their absolute masterpiece of real time strategy. The level of nuance to the game is so deep that the e-sports scene is surrounding it to this day and it’s taught as a subject on some universities. It is a landmark piece of the medium, one that lives in eternal fame.

5. Starcraft 2

In terms of the plot, Starcraft definitely shows Blizzard’s flare for the dramatic and bombastic. The war between humans, the ancient and secretive race of Protos and the ravenous Zerg plays out on massive, galactic scales and takes the player to see fantastic worlds. A classic definitely worth exploring.

Key features

Base version is actually free to play. If you’re ready for it. Get it here.

Product below includes both the Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void expansions

4. Stellaris

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2016
DeveloperParadox Development

Life, um… Finds a way. A grand strategy game from Paradox, Stellaris is all about building up your own space-faring civilization, exploring the galaxy, encountering other alien races and finding a way to live together in a rather crowded universe.

4. Stellaris

The big selling point here is the sheer variety with which you can design your aliens. Do you want them to be arthropod or reptile? Avian? Mammalian? Do you want your people to be robots? Possibilities are endless! You can design their political systems from the ground-up, including an option to play a Hive Mind, unconcerned with the individual squabbling that plague other organics. Add to that some fantastic high-end sci-fi concepts sprinkled throughout the game you can find (like the Russel’s Tea Pot discovery) while exploring and hay presto, you have one of the best games on the market solely devoted to the idea of alien fantasy.

Key features
  • You can create your own alien government and culture
  • Plays out in real-time, rather than in turns like many other 4X games
  • Stellaris cosmos looks beautiful
  • A lot of post-launch content

3. Destiny II

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2017
DeveloperBungie

A lovechild of Halo and Borderlands. Made by the same guys who made Halo. And it definitely shows, the combat in Destiny II, the sequel to a fantastic game, is tight, varied and immensely satisfying. What it lacks in the competitive aspect it makes up for in the cooperative one.

3. Destiny II

Destiny II is all about action and fun shooting-oriented combat filled with skills and unique abilities that interact with one another. The alien worlds of Destiny II, on the other hands, are occasionally very imaginative and the lore quite deep and fascinating. It’s a big melting pot of sci-fi elements, so if there’s one specific thing you like, it’s very likely you’ll find it here.

Key features
  • Great first-person online shooter from the creators of Halo
  • Three core classes with several subclasses each
  • Powerful and spectcular super abilities
  • Substantial expansions exploring the human-alien setting and bringing new loot

2. XCOM 2

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2016
DeveloperFiraxis Games

Here’s a tip: name members of your team after people you know. Trust me dude. Coming up next, we have a tactical game from Firaxis that has captivated the minds of many players. X-COM is a turn-based strategy game where you control a small squad of soldiers against ominous aliens invading the Earth. Your squad can be upgraded even to the point of using the alien technology against the gray bastards.

2. XCOM 2

XCOM taps into that UFO paranoia about the Men in Black, crop circles and aliens interested in probing your rectal orifice for inexplicable reasons. With percentages determining the success of an attack and the chance of any of your squad member dying, there’s a lot of emergent narrative possibility here, especially if you follow the helpful tip.

Key features
  • A massive War of the Chosen expansion making the game even more varied
  • You’re fighting to liberate Earth from an alien invasion
  • Follows twenty year after XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Excellent turn-based tactical battles

1. Mass Effect Andromeda

PC
PS4
XOne
Release year2017
DeveloperBioWare

A lullaby for BioWare. The final entry to the series and one you could enjoy without having experience with it, Andromeda is the very definition of a science fiction story. Brought to us by the giants behind Dragon Age and KotOR, Andromeda is a blend of polished, entertaining combat and a captivating story.

1. Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect injects the element of cosmic politics into a personal story, managing to frame the encountered aliens as complex and nuanced individuals. They are human-ish, but their various governments are unique and they manage to convey some truly great sci-fi concepts. On top of that you have an epic story of a galactic conflict. The Mass Effect series and Andromeda in particular is certainly something any fan of space should take a long look at.

Key features
  • A new story rooted in the familiar Mass Effect universe, although in a different galaxy
  • The finest combat system version the series had known up to that point
  • Alien worlds freely explorable
  • Flexible character progression


In space no one can hear you scream… Of joy!

So you know what they say: space is the place. I think someone said it, I don’t know who, wasn’t me. In any case, space is that magical place, the final outpost for a pioneering spirit, untapped by any human hand! In any case, have fun fighting/romancing/running in terror from various aliens. Whatever floats your boat here, the possibilities are endless. Like the universe itself. Maybe in the future we’ll play some genuinely alien games, but for now human-made ones are the only option.