[EDITORS NOTE: If this is your first experience with the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, you may want to consider starting with our previous review of the Core Rulebook. -dc]
One of the more interesting books to flip through in any RPG game system is the inevitable compendium of creatures that players may encounter. Whether they call it a “Creature Codex”, a “Bestiary”, or my personal favourite “Even More Things To Kill and Eat”, just the smallest a glance at the pages of these tomes will give new players an idea about where that particular game could take them.
Being a very large (yet still very new) game, Starfinder’s first Alien Archive is in an important position. Not only does it show off the diverse creatures in the game, but it sets the tone for every other book still to come. For example, Alien Archive is only about 160 pages, compared to a little over 300 pages in a Pathfinder Bestiary. Is that simply a way to bring out more content sooner? Will we see further volumes of Alien Archives come out sooner? We can only wait and see, and maybe the upcoming Pact Worlds books will shed more light on how future Starfinder releases will look.
What we do have, is a pretty fun collection of creatures. One of my new favorites is the Bryrvath. An evil aberration of shadow that literally feeds on light, and can tear apart light’s very spectrum, is something new that could be right out of H.P. Lovecraft. The adorable and unusual Skittermander is another new favorite. Without just cutting and pasting the entire two-page entry, I don’t think I can properly convey the giddy feeling I get when considering the possibilities of this creature. The best part is that all the information is provided to use them as a Player Character.
Not everything in Starfinder is completely “new”. The history of both the game and the universe it contains, are drawn from Pathfinder. So it’s natural that we would see more than a few of Golarion’s inhabitants spring up in the far future. While adapting Pathfinder creatures into a Starfinder campaign is covered in the Core Rulebook, the creatures are presented in Alien Archive are presented in a more detailed way. For example, different the Dragons and Elementals in Pathfinder could probably fill an entire Bestiary by themselves. In Starfinder they each have a page of generic stats and a page of template grafts that are added on to those stats, or any creature for that matter, afterward.
As an extra “bonus” there are even some entries that include starship stats for when a particular creature would have exclusive access to, or even becomes, a starship.
All told, Alien Archive is a great volume for any Starfinder library. Whether you are a GM looking to create and run an adventure, or a Player looking to experience a character that is uniquely new, this is the book you need.