A game set in the Alien franchise and that is actually good. That’s something fans have wanted for a long time coming, and in my opinion, we now have that with Alien: Isolation.
Creative Assembly took on the task of creating this new Alien game and they wanted to go a different way this time around by creating more of a suspenseful, survival horror title rather than an action shooter. Alien: Isolation takes you on a nail-biting ride that will leave you breathless in suspense and relieved when you find a safe spot to gather your composure.
In Alien: Isolation it follows the story of Weyland Yutani engineer Amanda Ripley, whose mother Ellen Ripley went missing aboard the Nostromo fifteen years ago. Early on she finds out that the Nostromo’s flight recorder has been found aboard the Sevestapool, and she goes along with the crew to find out what really happened to her mother. Although, that isn’t the only thing Amanda ends up discovering. When she arrives on the Sevestapool, she soons finds out that the place is in chaos. The remaining crew members on board are frightened for their lives, the malfunctioning synthetics roam free and there is something far more dangerous crawling in the vents.
This game is very much a stealth oriented game. You are going to want to stay in the shadows, keeping quiet, staying crouched and DO NOT RUN. Running will get you killed in this game. You’ll alert the Xenomorph and it will be bad times for you.
The Xenomorph itself is a truly terrifying creature and the first time I died at its hands I jumped out of my seat. It’s very unpredictable and has no patterns to its movements that you can learn. It acts differently every time you have an encounter with it. The Xenomorph isn’t the only enemy you’ll encounter either, with rogue android synthetics roaming about and hostile humans scattered throughout the ship. You’re better off taking the silent approach and using your motion tracker to avoid encounters rather than trying to take them head on.
Dying is something that will happen A LOT for you throughout the game. Depending on the difficulty you choose to play also factors into that. Don’t expect to have your hand held while playing either, leaving only yourself to figure out what and where you need to go. What will end up happening is dying over and over and over, leaving you to figure out what you’re doing wrong, correct it and finally move on to the next task/area.
And that brings up another aspect, saving your game. There is no autosave feature or checkpoints. Instead there are save points where you will insert your keycard and save your progress manually. These are scattered throughout the Sevestapool and are a lifesaver when you finally come across one. Saving your game ends up be stressful event as you are not completely free and in the clear while making a save.
You do have your choice at different weapons to use throughout the game, but I rarely ended up using many, aside from the flamethrower in the tail end of the game. In true survival horror fashion, the ammo for weapons is scarce and most of the time the weapons aren’t worth using as it could give away your position, sending enemies your way.
In your journey through the ship you’ll be able to pick up different items that will help you in being able to craft more useable items. You’ll be able to make anything from a noise maker, explosives, smoke bombs and even medkits, which is the only way for you to heal up. All of these things can help you at times in creating clever distractions so you can make your escape from an area. My most favorite moment being when I lobbed a noise maker in a group of a few human survivors and watched as the Xenomorph tore them apart and making me exit that much easier.
The overall story is pretty solid and they try and tie this game into the existing lore of existing Alien franchise. The main narrative for this game takes place fifteen years after the first Alien film. If you want to dive deeper into the narrative there are plenty of collectibles in the form of audio logs, archive logs and Nostromo tags to read up and listen to that will give clues as to what is happening and what happened before the incident took place. As a fan of the Alien franchise it was nice to be immersed in this world and get a new look into a new character in the franchise.
The graphics in this game are very good and there are plenty of small details throughout the game that have never made the 80s look so good. There’s some amazing lighting effects that lend to the tone in many areas of the Sevestapool. One hiccup with the game visually are the cutscenes. There were quite a few times where the cutscenes seemed to be laggy and the voice syncing wasn’t up to par, but apparently Creative Assembly released a patch to fix this.
The sound design in the game is astounding and top notch. It keeps you on your toes and the edge of your seat with all the sound effects that your ears will pick up. Even the score lends itself at the perfect times to add to the overall immersion of the game.
Lastly, is the length of this game, which seems to have drawn some drama around it. I clocked in about 16-18 hours with my time with the game. Some have found that too long and some have found it just right. I’m in the “just right” category. I felt that the pacing of the game was just right at certain times, while other times it felt drawn out with the task at hand and the countless deaths that ended up leading to try an area over and over again. Overall though it has more better paced sections than not. Creative Assembly balanced things well going from tension-filled alien encounters to the quieter moments left to yourself. With many short games filling our time in today’s industry, Alien: Isolation is a nice change of pace at offering us a longer playing-time experience.
Alien: Isolation is a game that I think a lot of Alien fans have been waiting for and does a wonderful job at capturing the look and tone of the films. It’s a great balance of scary tension and difficulty to keep you going until the end. While not a perfect game, it’s still a great game and a nice addition into the survival horror genre.
- Alien encounters are suspenseful and scary.
- Good stealth mechanics
- Top-notch visuals and sound design
- Backtracking for certain tasks/missions
- Combat/shooting mechanics can be wonky
- Trial and error encounters can get tedious if not figured out quickly