Let’s be honest here, who hasn't felt as if they were being watched or something was with you after turning off the lights. Then you begin to hear strange noises as the hairs on your arms rise, sensing a presence somewhere within the darkness and catching a quick movement from the corner of your eye. It’s certainly creepy, isn't it? That is one of the major elements of horror that Alien: Isolation succeeds at.
Developed by The Creative Assembly, Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival horror game (emphasize on survival) that combines stealth and puzzles, and bundles it in a nice package.
Set fifteen years after the events of Alien, technician Amanda Ripely is called by the Weyland-Yutani after receiving word that the flight recorder from the Nostromo has been sent to the space station Sevastopool. Now a part of a select team, Amanda is sent to the Sevastopool only to discover something else she could never have imagined lurking deep within the station.
Alien: Isolation is one of those games that simply take your breath away. With horror games tending to resort to the darker settings, Alien infuses that dark with a perfect balance of light, creating a beautiful yet dangerous world upon the Sevastopool. Even as you traverse through the mundane hallways, no corner is left uninteresting, urging players to sometimes let their controllers sit while you take in the scenery. It’s a gorgeous game, though many of the cutscenes and facial movements when characters are speaking lack in this regard; It’s not so much a problem as it is annoying.
Throughout your time in the Sevestapool as Amanda Ripley, you’ll encounter more than a handful of baddies that want to hinder your progression. Not only is the spotlight on the alien—the main star who wants to gnaw at your face—but there are humans and Working Joe’s that will search for you inside lockers and under tables. While the various encounters might seem intimidating, Alien: Isolation has a crafting system in place to help you navigate areas by creating noisemakers, smoke bombs, and other tools you can in vents and cabinets to distract enemies you come across. This is why exploration is encouraged and, many of the times, necessary if you want to ensure your survival.
One important tool at your disposal is the motion tracker you acquire early in the game. It is vital to your succession in traversing the aircraft, you’ll hardly take your eyes off it since it is able to track the movements of enemies in front and surrounding you. It doesn’t come without a price, though. The closer you are to an enemy, the more likely they are able to hear the beeps that emitted from the device, creating a double-edged sword for players who rely on it too much.
Tensions are high in Isolation, especially when there is NO AUTO SAVE. This is one the most interesting features in the game, requiring you to save at various save points in a level which brings a great source of challenge and frustration as you keep an eye and ear to save your progression. It’s a nice change of pace since most of the games nowadays have coddled us with auto-saves and checkpoints, this makes players think about their next move carefully since its possible to lose a good chuck of game time simply because we were impatient.
But it’s also not without some annoying faults. One of the complaints I had was the sudden drop in frame rate and loading times that managed to eat away at my overall enjoyment of the game. As soon as I came into contact with more than one enemy, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a series of lagging visuals that just refused to cooperate with m until I was dead. However, this was more tolerable than the frequent crashes I experienced during certain sections of the game, which is why I suggest purchasing Alien: Isolation for a next-gen console rather than the PS3 version I bought, as those issues might be nonexistent on the other systems.
As it stands, Alien: Isolation is a treat to play. You get a lengthy story that throws a few nods at the Alien franchise and a rich, new survival horror that hasn't been seen in the market for quite some time. I enjoyed my time with the latest entry in the Alien franchise and it would be mistake to skip this title if you’re searching for a new game to make into your collection.
For all of the things Alien does right—and some minor shortcomings—I give it an admirable grade of A-.
And remember: you’re never alone.