Alien Isolation’s biggest draw is that it remembers first and foremost that it’s based on a horror film. A very nasty horror film. A horror film containing a monster that continues to terrify to this day because its body parts are reminiscent of a set of grotesque sexual organs. There really was no one like H.R. Geiger when it came to making one’s stomach turn.
This is probably why many Alien video games have failed in the past. Most of them stroke the player’s ego by placing them in the boots of an invulnerable space marine who simply pours bullets into their targets with macho impunity leaving a tower of xenomorph corpses.
Alien Isolation is a different beast altogether because the developers, Creative Assembly, have realised that fear and feeling invulnerable lie at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.
Alien Isolation: Gameplay
In Alien Isolation, the player isn’t helpless, but they are incredibly vulnerable. As they traverse the dimly-lit corridors of the Nostromo – the ship from the original Alien film – they can craft gadgets, arm themselves with the odd flame-thrower and use the ship’s series of vents to move about undetected.
What they can’t do is kill the alien that’s moving about in their environment. If it sees them, they’re dead, and it really is as simple as that.
The player’s main directive is to stay out of sight. Positioning pieces of the environment between the alien and them helps, as does moving slowly.
Activities that cause noise – such as running – should be avoided. They have a motion sensor, which gives them the position of anything moving in their environment, and a flashlight.
They’ll eventually find themselves crafting noise-makers, EMP bombs and, yes, they’ll get their hands on a gun or two, but that won’t stop the xenomorph from sinking its teeth into their face if it catches them.
Alien Isolation: Plot
Canonically Alien Isolation bumps up between the first two Alien films. The Nostromo has finally been discovered and Amanda Ripley volunteers to help investigate the Nostromo’s dank corridors to see what happened to the ship’s crew, and more specifically her mother, Ellen.
It’s here that Alien Isolation throws its second winning jab at the player. It turns out that a hungry alien isn’t the only danger Amanda – and by extension the player – has to contend with.
The corridors are stalked by a crew of scavengers who’ll attack her on sight. There’s also the small matter of the androids – or synthetic humans – who have gone murderously on the blink.
Like the best Alien films – and that’s the first two in case you were wondering – Alien Isolation adds spice to the mix by not making the xenomorph the only dangerous entity in Ripley’s environment.
Alien Isolation: Verdict
There are some concerns we have; the graphics – even on the second build we’ve played in as many month – still pale in comparison compared to the best offered on the new gen (and bear in mind, we played a PC build).
The trial and error nature of the game also still seems difficult to sustain over an 8-12 hour experience. It seems that Alien Isolation will live and die on its plot and its atmosphere – aspects the first two films it’s based on had in spades. No pressure then…
Alien Isolation release date: 7 October 2014
Alien Isolation price: From £44.99