Project AETHER: First Contact


As the quest for space exploration become a reality, we humans become enthusiastic to the idea of discovering and walking on new planets, as well as coming across new types of living organisms. This euphoria dies down rather sharply when one of our chief scientists mentioned that we might encounter unknown and hostile civilizations during our space endeavours. Unanimously, we decide to build a mech that can be deployed quickly on planet orbits or surfaces. Just in time, our first prototype is ready for testing as we lose all radio contact with the rest of our planets. Ready to launch. . . Project Aether – First Contact!

Project Aether: First Contact is a twin-stick shooter game developed and self-published by
Sleepy Spider Studios on the 25th of February 2020 on Steam.

The game consists of a campaign with 9 missions, 4 levels of difficulty, an excellent tutorial, and 3 modes: Trials, Survival, Boss Run.

As you start the campaign, your mech will have a generic loadout with a primary, secondary and an energy blade (melee) for the weapons, as well as a dash type and a Power EMP. As you progress through the levels, you’ll unlock new weapons, dash types and Power EMP’s.  

The missions will take around 8 to 20 minutes on average on the normal level of difficulty. With that said, you’ll probably die more than once from the third mission onwards. But don’t worry, you’ll have 3 continues up your sleeve on normal difficulty; you’ll only have one continue on the hard level of difficulty, with tougher enemies to deal with.

Each mission will have a certain number of waves of enemies to eliminate and you’ll be graded from S to D depending on how many opponents you destroyed along with how many hits you took. As you move on from wave to wave, the variety of enemies increases quickly, and soon you’ll face spaceships that shoot different types of projectiles (including lasers) and drop mines, while other enemy spaceships will fly directly at your mech to pierce its hull. It’s just mayhem and super fun! The trick is to make sure to use your dash at the right time to avoid being hit; simple but not easy to achieve. If you ‘ve taken too many hits, your hull gauge will turn red; you’ll have 5 repair kits to use on your first life but fewer on your second or third life or continue. Mind you, I stuffed it up more than once using repair kits and lost many lives far too early.

There are leader boards for each of the levels in the campaign, trails, survival and Boss Run. So, if you are competitive and want to record the best score on each of the modes of play, learn to avoid projectiles very quickly. The maximum combo points are 3, and you start on 1.   For each enemy you destroy, the combo will increase by 0.1, so you’ll need to kill 30 opponents to reach the maximum combo. And let me tell you, it’s an achievement in itself if you manage to do so. But if you’re like me, and keep taking on bullets and lasers from left, right and centre, you’ll be back to combo 1 rather often.

The game is well made; the controls are fluid and the story and the voice over are good, as are the graphics. The campaign might be slightly on the short side, but with the trials, survival and Boss runs modes, this game has good replayability without a doubt. The only issue I had was to run the game the first time; my anti-virus didn’t like a file name, but after adjusting my settings, everything was fine. I really enjoyed the game!


+ Good graphics
+ Campaign, trials, survival and Boss runs modes
+ 4 levels of difficulty
+ Easy to play, challenging and good replayability
+ Multiple Leader boards
+ Achievements


- No trading cards as yet
- Campaign on the short side

Review Summary

Control the prototype mech, Project Aether, and defeat an unknown Alien force. A fun twin-stick shooter to own!

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Zeepond Rating: 7/10