In 1979, Ridley Scott introduced audiences to a vision of terror by creating a story that combined the elements of horror in a science fiction context. Alien: Isolation continues that legacy by bring his original vision to the gaming world.
It has been a long time since gamers played a horror survival that had a strong emphasis on the concepts of both “horror” and “survival.” The seventh generation was a terrible era for the genre as too many developers were more focused on pandering to casual gamers by dumbing down the gameplay into a Call of Duty knockoff.
Gamers are all too familiar with the Alien series but it has been through works influenced by the action driven social commentary of James Cameron. Creative Assembly instead has developed a game that returns the series to its roots in the setting of a horror survival. In this odyssey of fear there are no Marines with pulse rifles and armored vehicles, the players just need to survive. Basically this is not another disaster like Colonial Marines.
The story is set 15 years after the original film and has players take on the role of Amanda Ripley as she searches for her missing mother. After learning about the flight recorder of the Nostromo, she arrives to the space station Sevastopol only to discover it has been infested with a Xenomorph.
Before getting into the game one needs to take the time an appreciate the level design that tries to capture the science fiction tone of the original film. Technology may have improved over time but one has to really admire how the development team recreated how visionaries in the 1970s imaged what the future could be like.
As stated at the beginning, it has been a long time since a horror game required the player to think critically and use their wits to overcome a challenge. The last time any gamer may have experienced such a challenge was during the sixth generation of gaming. The gameplay mechanism is a unique setup as the player needs to use stealth and wits to avoid a Xenomorph that can’t be killed (its like the scorpion featured in pirated copies of Serious Sam 3). Players will have to be smart about their actions as they must use the character’s skill set to overcome a series of challenges and obstacles.
Its important to note that your character isn’t some badass angel of death so avoid fighting since she has no combat skills. In fact don’t play Alien: Isolation like a first-person shooter or your not going to appreciate it as a horror survival.
At first players will have to over come the challenge of trying to understand the concept of survival as it will be very common to die, because that’s what people do. Also don’t expect a buddy to help you as there is no multiplayer and a Co-Op feature was not shoehorned into the game.
This game is not for everyone as it’s obvious that Creative Assembly developed it for horror buffs and real gamers. For those whose only experiences with horror games has been Resident Evil 6 or Dead Space III will find Alien: Isolation to be a little complicated.
Finally kudos need to be given to the team who overcame many obstacles to escape the shadow of Colonial Marines‘ failure. Ever since the official announcement, the gaming community expected it to be another disaster. Creative Assembly had to not only develop a unique game but they also had to win gamers’ trust. They accomplished both with Alien: Isolation.
As the season of fear begins, the first real horror survival of the Next-Gen era is only a reminder that in space no one can hear you scream.
Final Score: 9/10