After undergoing development for three years, Alien: Isolation has manifested itself as a gameplay love letter to fans of the 1979 classic Alien just in time for the film's 35th anniversary.
We at Geek had the pleasure of getting our palms and ps4 controllers sweaty with an Alien: Isolation demo experience. The game opens up 15 years after the events that took place on the Nostromo, following Amanda Ripley’s investigative search for her mother, Ellen. Upon first look, the landscape takes you back to the eerie atmosphere of the first film. Though it’s 2137 in the game, it’s the future executed in a 70′s aesthetic. Consoles are oversized and bulky, while screens are displayed in old school analog black and green, together playing their respective parts in an overall psychologically thrilling experience.
You (Amanda Ripley) have in fact volunteered for this mission and this being the space-horror that it is, things go awry, quite fast. You’ve been transferred to the space station Sevastopol to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo, and as fate would have it, a xenomorph has already infested the station. In a jarring and semi-crypitc how-to video you’re given tips on how to avoid the singular xenomorph on the station, but there’s a catch here: you can’t kill it.
While gamers (ourselves included) are used to a flight or fight like gaming experience, Alien: Isolation requires a basket of patience, quick wit and a cool calm collective (none of these I had at the inception of my gameplay) differentiating itself from the shooter-style gaming predecessors. You’re equipped with a motion tracker and a flashlight. The tracker updates your objectives’ point of location as well as keeping a third eye out for the xenomorph. It even lets you know when you’re being hunted, mimicking a sonar ping, which obviously keeps you calm, right?
Instead of weaponry, Isolation focuses on stealth tactics while highlighting survival as the final goal. Developer and creative lead Alistair Hope did clue us in on some customary objects that can change the dynamic of the game, given the proper situation, but not to attack the Xenomorph. You’ve seen the Alien franchise (we’d be really disappointed if you haven’t), so you know our resident predators are sensory creatures and rely on this during the game play. If they can’t see or hear you, you’re in the clear. Running is discouraged, as it creates more noise and attention. We learned this the hard way (Not saying that I died multiple times in the game or anything.)
So what happens, once you’re back in the game? You can try the same route, right? If that’s what helped you to prior victories? Hate to break it to you, but that’s a no-go in Alien: Isolation. The lone Xenomorph has an AI of its own, allowing it to hunt and stalk it’s prey differently every single play, throwing even the best gamers off course. In some cases it even learns from your patterns, making the experience all the more realistic and terrifying. But fear not! In your favor, the landscape is non-linear allowing you to hide and crouch under and behind multiple objects.
The demo was an incredible experience, occasionally filling the room with random gasps, shudders and possibly a curse at the seven gods too. The horror tactics in Isolation are very effective, leaving you skulking corners and turning on every light in your wake. Check out the official Alien: Isolation trailer below.
Alien: Isolation hits shelves October 7, 2014 on PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One and PS4.