I adore Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien. Like any successful sci-fi Alien quickly portrayed it’s universe and drawn you in with its suspense, back-story and that retro futuristic feel. Not to mention the terrifying killer xenomorph hidden on board. It’s all these features that make Alien: Isolation stand out as the alien game fans had been waiting for.
Created by Sega the game follows Amanda Ripley (daughter of Ellen Ripley and a nice tie in to Aliens) hunting down news of her mother that leads to them being on Sevastapool. Of course it’s not long though that Amanda is stranded on board alone and left fighting for herself with something horrifying lurks in the dark.
I’ve not played many horror games but willing to bet my motion tracker that it’s got to be one of the best in a long time, watch the YouTube gameplay videos if you don’t believe me. From the first encounter you’re left hesitating around each corner in fear of attack. Though annoying at times the fear is enhanced with its use of limited save points (adding to the retro feel) rather than autosave and checkpoints. It leaves you left feeling vulnerable and that more cautious. Some critics have put this down as a bad point but I think it relishes the player in needing to find patience and new pathways that can at times be lost in today’s gaming.
Visually the game is a spectacle as well. You can see how passionate and dedicated the makers were with the small details in graphics that create the same atmosphere as the first alien classic. It could have been easy for the makers to adapt it to modern-day technology and be maybe more realistic but gladly they recreate that alien word right down to each little green pixel. For example how your motion tracker actually has noise taken from old TV’s and the depth of field it creates to prevent the player relying on it too much. The lighting and environment are done exceptionally well with bright flares and strong shadows contrasting well. With that and all the 70’s props quite often you are mislead into thinking you’ve seen the alien.
That leads me to the star of the game, the alien itself. It’s AI is unique and it is this that creates the screams and shocks. The AI doesn’t follow a set path like similar stealth games but instead it hunts you. adapts. With some serious of commands in the programming (way beyond my understanding) the alien comes to learn your tactics and common hiding spaces to hunt you down. If it sees a locker door open it’ll try to find out who opened it. I found myself stuck in a locker nearly cheek to cheek with it outside, each time it running back at the sound of my tracker and boy is it fast. It’s a one hit kill, invincible, unpredictable machine that really feels alive and as a result keeps your hands clenching that controller tight.
Unfortunately I did find as a result parts in-between them hunts were a bit drab in comparison. You’re left fighting off these repetitive frustrating (however creepy) average Joe androids. When urging to tackle the alien these don’t live up to it and are more a nuisance than a joy to get pass, certainly at parts where the story can drag ever so slightly.
That aside though this game is a must buy for any horror/alien/stealth gamer. Best played with surround sound in the dark its guaranteed to make your heart jump. Those who aren’t a fan of the series can still enjoy the puzzles, story and gameplay with it standing strong as an independent game too unlike it’s predecessors. If you’re a fast gamer with little time and dying to shoot everything this game probably isn’t for you though with time and patience required to prevent repetition and throwing the controller at the screen.
Release back in October you can already get this game in store and on steam for under £20, a definite bargain.