Review: Alien: Isolation
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO
Finally. A truly great Alien game.
After the hugely disappointing Colonial Marines fans were questioning whether this new title would be another poorly made cash grab or a genuinely scary Alien game. I’m glad to say it’s the latter. Sega’s The Creative Assembly team have done a fantastic job at portraying the tense, helpless feeling that Ellen Ripley felt during the first Alien film and created a game that is unafraid of daring to try something new.
The game starts off with you taking control of Amanda Ripley whom is looking for her mother, Ellen Ripley, after the events of the original film. She has been told that the flight recorder from the Nostromo is found on a space station called Sevastopol and is asked to come along to hopefully gain some sort of closure over her long lost mother. Things go quickly wrong while preparing to enter the station and Amanda becomes stranded from the rest of the crew.
As she quickly realises there are serious problems aboard the station, one of them being an Alien. From here on out she must survive by herself with the little amount of resources and weapons available to her. As the game progresses players can (if they are vigilant enough) find upgrades and blueprints for craftable weapons.
Similar to The Last of Us’ crafting system Isolation also has players collect parts to combine together to create items. Such items include medkits, molotovs and flares. All of which will help you survive the horrors in store.
It wouldn’t be an Alien game without a Xenomorph and Isolation brings the iconic character to life in the most terrifying way. Meeting the creature for the first time is a harrowing experience and that feeling of sheer dread carries with you the entire game until it reaches its phenomenal finale. Unlike previous games you can not kill it, but by using your limited amount of items you can distract it or scare it away for a very short period of time. I’m talking 15 seconds or so, then it’s back to hunting you down. The AI is erratic and relentless, picking up every loud step. It will even react to items that are currently being used, such as the motion tracker.
Possibly your best friend in the entire game the motion tracker gives the player the ability to track nearby moving enemies. While it does not give an exact pinpoint on the location it does tell you how close to your proximity it is. But as mentioned earlier the Alien will take notice if it is used in its vicinity as the detector gives out a loud beeping noise when it has something on its radar.
Isolation gives players a wide range of difficulty settings to pick from, allowing even gamers new to stealth games a chance at surviving. I found the difficulty to not ramp up at a steady pace but that it changed wildly during the game. There are sections early on in the game where the Alien is constantly on you, forcing yourself to be on your toes for a good few hours. While later on the Alien is absent for a period of time and the game becomes drastically easier. I don’t however see this as a huge problem and having difficulty spikes causes the player to be always alert, never knowing what’s around the corner.
To save your progress you have to find a save station, which are typically spread somewhat far apart and take a few seconds to activate. Yes, you can still be killed while trying to save. In fact there are hardly any moments in the game where you truly feel safe. Everything you do in the game world is in real time; from crafting weapons to accessing logs on a computer terminal. Players have to be alert at all times and aware of potential threats nearby to avoid having to redo a section over. Especially because if the Alien grabs hold of you it is a 1 hit kill, no escape and no way of fighting back.
I was a tad unsure if I wanted to purchase this game, down to the fact that some reviewers were saying that the game has too much backtracking and filler. I did not find that the case at all. Indeed, you do have to revisit some areas a second time but only after quite some time and the objectives are entirely different. Don’t get me wrong, they could have perhaps cut out some unnecessary sections of the game, as a first playthrough does last 15-20 hours, but personally I enjoyed the game so much that I didn’t want it to end.
For die hard Alien fans there are also 2 pieces of DLC available to purchase. These were originally included in certain pre-orders and have you play as Ellen Ripley and crew on the Nostromo during sections of the first film. While short in length (30 mins each) being able relive these classic moments for yourself is a treat. They are also voiced by most of the original cast.
This is a game for horror fans, make no mistake about it. If you enjoy games like Dead Space and Outlast then this is a must play. Not only did they stay true to the movies but they have created something totally worthy of being an instalment of the Alien series. Hopefully a sequel is in the works.