It Came from the Desert is a remake of the the original 1989 Amiga game of the same name, but with a vast amount of changes and improvements. The basic setting was kept identical. It is a mix of action and adventure elements, largely inspired from cult-horror B-Movies of the 50's and 60's, and the 1954 film Them in particular. The player plays the part of Dr. Greg Bradley, a geologist and the newest resident in town. Eager to satisfy his scientific mind, Bradley sets out to examine the crash-site of a mysterious meteor, but what he finds is not at all what he had been looking for.
The game was commissioned by NEC for the TurboGrafx CD console to show off the abilities of the new CD-ROM format. With a team that included many developers of the original game, the graphic, drawn sequences of the original game were turned into full-motion video. These were acted out by real actors, filmed, and then imported into the game, also using full speech. These recorded actors were then imposed on still photos of real locations. The player's input mainly determines the next sequence to trigger or the next location to travel to, and the conversation trees of the original game were not re-used.
The live footage is mixed with drawn, side-scrolling sequences where the player battles ants in tunnels, along with top-down, drawn action sequences that were also used in the original version. There are also a few events where the player has to aim a crosshair to take out other characters.