Alone and terrified, that about sums it up. Searching for answers, Amanada Ripley, daughter of movie protagonist Ellen Ripley finds herself in a spacestation filled with paranoid and violent humans, crazed AI, and worst of all, A Xenomorph. A stealth and survival horror, flee the relentless killing machine that might be lurking around any corner, in Alien: Isolation
Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Genre: Survival Horror
One of the scariest movies of all time, on just about any of ‘best horror films’ lists I’ve ever seen wasn’t ‘really’ a horror film at all, but science fiction. An entire crew of technologically advanced human beings against a single creature so powerful and ‘alien’ that it wipes almost all of them out, one by one. It also creates a heck of a lot of tension, sneaky Xenomorphs, it’s always ‘lurking in the shadows, first we see some drool, then it’s off to get fitted for a face hugger’ *shudders*. With the relentlessness and cold, emotionless drive to consume and spread, stealth and lethality, not to mention the horrifying method of reproduction, the Xenomorph, or, Alien, make just about the perfect antagonist. Though they’ve tried many times, for one reason or another that has yet to translate into videogames, you’d think Dead Space with Xenomorphs right? Challenging that nearly flawless record of failure is Alien: Isolation.
One good sign is that Alien: Isolation is a survival horror, rather than an action title. I firmly believe that Alien could very well be a shooter, F.E.A.R., Dead Space, and Alan Wake are great examples of games that employ action but manage to set tone and maintain tension. For whatever reason though, it’s not served the franchise well in the past. You play as Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda, and if you were thinking ‘Ripley’ is a bad name to have while traipsing about in lonely ships and space stations, you’d be right. Investigating her mother’s disappearance, Amanda boards the space station Sevastopol, looking for information, which is where the ‘fun’ starts.
As Amanda, the player faces a single Alien throughout the game, but, as the first movie taught us, one is more than enough. Like Nemesis from the Resident Evil series, the Alien can’t be killed, unlike Nemesis, rather than pre-canned encounters, the Alien is programmed with complex ‘hunting’ behaviors, making stealth an absolute must (there’s a mechanic where Ripley must hold her breath while the alien lurks nearby, so cool). Player’s can track the Alien, but, designed without a HUD, Amanda must whip out the equipment to use it, but this eliminates the players ability to see the game space, and you can only track the beastie when its moving. All of these pieces add up to running around in a dark spaceship terrified and hiding, never quite sure where the monster you can’t possibly hope to kill might be waiting. Oh, and did I mention a terrified and mutinous crew, as well as murderous robots? All contained inside a pressure-sealed, oversized tupperware container which is all that stands between you and the vacuum of space…. delightful.
It’s source material is practically gospel to the Sci-fi junkies as well as the horror heads, but Alien has had a hard time in the digital space of the Video Game. Taking it back to the old school, pitting an all too vulnerable human against a merciless force of nature in a dark and lonely place, Alien Isolation certainly has the right idea. Just remember, in Space no one can hear you scream, but they can and will hear you from the living room… just FYI.