Release Date: October 7, 2014
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
After a series of letdowns in the Alien game franchise (the worst being 2013’s Aliens: Colonial Marines), veteran developer Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation seemed to be a beacon of hope in the alien hive of darkness. With a unique concept of sneaking through an abandoned space ship with an unstoppable alien creature hunting the player, how could Alien fans not be excited?
The core game-play of Alien: Isolation is somewhat reminiscent of the BioShock series, in which you explore carefully designed levels that exude atmosphere in a first-person view, while collecting supplies and finding hidden recorded messages. Players take on the role of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the films’ protagonist Ellen Ripley, and spend the majority of the game scavenging an abandoned space ship while avoiding the threats that fill the ship. The basic premise of the story is that Amanda must escape the ship while searching for clues of her missing mother.
(You’ll be staring at this motion tracker for the majority of the game.)
Although the game is focused mostly on evading a single Xenomorph, players will encounter other human survivors and malfunctioning androids. While a simple arsenal of weaponry, along with various gadgets that can be crafted with the materials found around the ship are available, the game demands your expert tactics in avoiding direct confrontation. Unfortunately, the shooting mechanics in the game are not very intuitive, and Ripley’s death requires no more than a few hits. I also found myself spending most of my time crawling through vents and hiding in lockers. Fun. Even with additional in-game features like rewiring controls to create fog, noise, and other distractions, giving the player an advantage without having to fire a gun, these options are not enough to sustain interest and excitement.
Ripley is not a soldier, and the game makes certain players realize this through swift deaths and instant game-overs the moment your character is detected. Another complication involves the game’s manual save system over traditional auto-saves and checkpoints. If you’re negligent in saving your progress, then kiss that last hour goodbye. In fairness, this style of game-play ensures that a sense of tension is always present. The game does not hold the player’s hand, and for this I applaud the developers.
Creative Assembly’s promise of engendering genuine fear in players when hunted by the iconic Xenomorph is somewhat inconsistent in the final game. Without spoiling anything, there is a point in the game when the player acquires a weapon that can be used to fight against the alien. This completely nullifies any sense of fear the presence of the alien had created and goes against the whole concept of the game.
Although Alien: Isolation is one of the better Alien video games to come out since, well, ever, the lack of options in game-play, coupled with design choices that prove to be counterproductive to its attempt at horror clearly shows the lack of effort that went into the game during development. Fans of the franchise may enjoy the game’s incredibly atmospheric setting, but to those who are looking for a solid survival horror game worth playing, it’s difficult to recommend this one.
Won’s Final Verdict: Do not buy