Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release: October 7, 2014
Alien: Isolation is the highly anticipated horror title developed by The Creative Assembly and published by Sega. You are put in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, who was played by Sigourney Weaver in the films Alien and Aliens. The game takes place in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens. The creators of Alien: Isolation do a fine job crafting their own story and tying it in to the old films. The game even opens up with a VHS-like 20th Century Fox presentation. This makes Isolation feel like it fits right in with those classic horror flicks. As Amanda, aboard the space station Sevastapol, you must find the flight recorder of Nostromo, but things take a turn for the worse as you discover an alien is on board, relentlessly killing all crew and passengers.
The first thing you’ll notice about Alien: Isolation is the presentation. It opens like a movie from the 70’s, with those classic VHS lines and quality hitches. It’s complete with retro music too. You’ll literally feel like you are watching one of the old Alien films. Soon enough though, after a somewhat laggy but mostly realistic cutscene, you’re thrust into darkness and horror. The opening gameplay set pieces truly invoke terror. The superb graphics help add to the realism and fear. The detailed environments make you feel as if you’re really in Amanda’s shoes…and you know you are not alone on the space station. Lighting effects are especially great, along with the little things, such as smoke and fire. Everything looks pretty darn good. The weakest aspects, visually, would probably be the characters themselves, but they still look great. Being that you have little ammo and minimal weapons, it’s easy to be afraid in the opening stages of the game. The sound effects are implemented with precision, as you can hear every detail around you. Sometimes, it’s the alien scampering around in the air ducts, while other times, it’s lights exploding or enemies approaching. Whatever it is, you’ll be impressed and probably pretty scared.
The gameplay in Alien: Isolation is good, but not great. Sure, the visuals and audio are both superb, but things tend to die down and unravel in the latter part of the game. It is about 20 hours, which some claim is too long. This does in fact, water down the experience because the story and gameplay wither after a while. If the game was only 10 hours, the game would have actually been better. For example, later in the game, you get better weapons, which sort of defeats the purpose of what the game originally set out to do. You will feel overpowered, even though you can’t kill the alien. Also, the alien ‘disappears’ for a while in a certain section of the game, which leaves you to deal with the computer-generated human-like enemies, who are albeit creepy, but are not as imposing as the alien. All of this combined makes for a less impressive second half. On the positive note, the gameplay gets some diversity via the weapon/item crafting and puzzle-solving. The crafting is very much like The Last of Us, as in you combine different pieces of scrap you find throughout your quest and build items such as noisemakers, first aid kits and mines. The puzzles in Isolation are somewhat easy but they are also needed, because they freshen things up in cool ways.
The alien itself is pretty scary, but the real fear comes from trying to proceed to the next objective without being seen or found by it. Most of the time, you’ll have to be very patient and of course, stay hidden. There are plenty of places to hide such as lockers and boxes. Near the beginning of the game you will get a radar device that tells you where the alien is, or more specifically, if it is near you. By the way, it’s much faster than you, so if it sees you, you’re dead. There will be times you’ll have to re-play certain areas, which will become frustrating for some players. But then again, it’s all about survival in Alien: Isolation.
As a whole, Alien: Isolation nails the look and feel of the classic films it attempts to replicate. The developers did a nice job tying the story into the original films as well. This adds some cohesiveness and intrigue as you play through. The audiovisual presentation is fantastic. However, even with its strengths, Isolation fails to capitalize in the long-term, with a transition from fear and terror to guns-blazing, overpowering gameplay. This also takes away from the story because it changes the whole mood and feel of the game. Isolation is also upwards of 20 hours long, making things drag for too long. It’s not the Alien game you have been waiting for, but it’s still the best Alien game on the market today.
-Many terrifying moments, involving an alien and various enemies
-The alien is imposing and frightening
-Profanity throughout, both spoken and written
-Blood and guts
-Not recommended for people under 17
Check out the trailer for Alien: Isolation below: