Alien: Isolation Review


By: Brandon Myers @BrandoCalrysian

Alien: Isolation is a thrilling survival horror game developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. Let me be the first to tell you that this game is scary. Very scary. I haven’t felt this sense of dread and fear to see what’s around the corner in a really long time. This game had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Isolation is set in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien, the 1979 sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott, and 42 years prior to Aliens, the amazing sequel directed by James Cameron. The game follows Amanda Ripley, who is investigating the disappearance of her mother, Ellen Ripley. Amanda is transferred to the space station Sevastopol to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo only to discover an alien has terrorized the station and killed most of the crew.

Isolation succeeds where so many licensed franchises have failed in large part due to the art direction and sound design, which absolutely nails the spirit of the original Scott film. From the old school “futuristic” computers and their CRT monitors to the terrifying orchestral score, Isolation feels like is was made by the creators of the film. One of the more impressive visuals in the game is that of fog. It becomes a character of the game that increases the tension and intensifies the mystery of the levels.

While it does take a while for the alien to show up, it gives the storytellers time to establish the world and the characters. Amanda is a very interesting heroine, and is very much like her tough, smart mother Ellen Ripley.
Once the xenomorph shows up and starts hunting, the game really begins. It’s both scary and stressful. It’s supposed to be.

Most of the alien’s actions are unscripted, so you really never know what it’s going to do. It could leave you alone for minutes at a time, or sniff around where you are hiding, making you patiently wait for it to leave. Stealth is the key as sound, light, or the sight of you will lead to your imminent death. There are weapons available for you to use throughout the game, but none strong enough to keep you safe.

Here is how an encounter usually plays out: you get a warning pulse from motion tracker, hear the stress inducing sound of the alien dropping into the area from an overhead air duct. You hide in a storage cabinet, under a desk, or in a locker and watch your motion tracker until the monster leaves the area, and then proceeds stealthily to the next objective hoping it doesn’t come back.

This is the heart of the tense cat and mouse that dominates the game. To make things even tenser, the only way to save your progress is with a wall mounted telephone. It takes a moment to boot up, so you can be impaled by the alien while saving. This adds a sense of urgency and gives you a genuine sigh of relief every time you save your game. Add to this a handful of hacking mini games that you have to complete while the creature could be stalking you from anywhere that creates a recipe for constant fear and anxiety on the Sevastopol.

I had very few gripes with the game, but my first has to do with a stretch of the game that goes alien-free and pits you against androids. They can be taken out with well-placed headshots, but I found myself missing the survival horror aspects of the game. The other is that the game was possibly a bit long, but at the current prices for gaming titles, more game is better than less. That said, this is a great game and by far the best of the Alien franchise to date.

Isolation is the Alien game that fans have been waiting for. It perfectly encapsulates the feel and look of the classic film that started it all. Isolation brings the goods with sky high production values and a very intense game of cat and mouse with a murderous xenomorph. Get ready for a genuinely unnerving and tense experience that few of today’s horror games deliver. Fans of the series and survival horror in general are in for one scary ride.

Alien:Isolation is available for Xbox, Playstation, and PC.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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