Virtual Encounters

A look at the best alien-themed video games

The concept of alien life forms have long been a part of various science fiction novels, TV shows and movies. That’s even more true in the world of gaming. Many blockbuster games immerse you into a galactic world beyond your imagination, giving you a way to interact with and even fight extraterrestrials.

Here’s a list of just a few of those games that put you through this otherworldly experience.


Known as one of the most influential games of all-time, Half-Life (1998) transcended the way the gaming community looked at first-person shooting games with the ability to explore the world and find hidden areas while following its linear structure. In the game, you play as Dr. Gordon Freeman as you fight back against aliens who are pouring into your research facility from the Xen Dimension. Through battles with strange creatures and puzzle solving, you must find a way into the newly-discovered dimension and stop the force that is keeping the rift alive.

Its sequel, Half-Life 2 (2004), is held in even higher regard for its plot, enhanced graphics and the implementation of the gravity gun, which lets the player pick up and movie objects from far away. This time, the story revolves around Freeman’s attempt to save Earth from the rule of the Combine Empire by using similar mechanics to the first game to find a way to stop them.

Mass Effect

Known for having one of the most compelling stories in video games, the Mass Effect series by BioWare introduced the world to Commander Shepard and the Systems Alliance Navy military in 2007. Set in the Milky Way galaxy, the brigade is made up of various alien species that must fight to stop the Reapers from destroying all advanced organic life. As the only human in the fleet, Shepard must build relationships and recruit members of various societies throughout the galaxy to help fight back against this mechanical force.

The action role-playing game is unique because of the many paths you can take in terms of the story. You have situations presented to you, and you have to make a choice that will affect how the game plays out later. Conversations also have various dialogue choices where you can set the tone of a scene. With three games in the original series, the choices you make in the first game can be carried over to the second and third game. The plot, mechanics and world of Mass Effect has been praised universally in the gaming industry.

Dead Space

The idea of aliens can be scary, and if it scares you too much, this is not the game for you. Dead Space, which initially came out in 2008 by Visceral Games, puts you in the role of ship systems engineer Isaac Clarke. His starship has been taken over by aliens and his crew has been killed and turned into “necromorphs.” The goal of the game is to get out of the situation alive and take out as many of the aliens and necromorphs as possible.

Since the game is based on a mining starship, Clarke must use his tools to fight back against the creatures around him. He must listen to methods provided to him through hologram in order to kill the necromorphs and escape.

The visuals of the game and the intensity of the gameplay was met with widespread acclaim throughout the gaming industry, with some even indicating it as potentially the greatest game of all time.


The first three games here are a lot darker in theme, so let’s finish this list off on a brighter note. Pikmin has been a favorite among Nintendo fans since the 2001 release of the original game. It has had multiple protagonists during the series, but the main hero from the first two games in Captain Olimar. He is an alien from the planet Hocotate that crashes down on an Earth-like world known as PNF-404. Olimar must direct tiny plant creatures known as Pikmin, to do tasks to retrieve pieces of his ship in order to put it back together and fly back home before he perishes due to the heavy amounts of oxygen, something that’s deadly to his kind.

The game is built as an action platformer and puzzle game as you control where the Pikmin go and what they do. The game’s naturalistic design, fun gameplay and cute characters were all elements that made it a success.

Christopher Birsner
In addition to being the editor of the Massapequa Observer and Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald, Chris Birsner is the sports editor for Long Island Weekly and often contributes gaming articles to the arts and entertainment publication.

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