It’s that time of year already! Time for all the scary survival horror games to come out. This year it’s time to dust off that old motion tracker and get back to DOS computers! Creative Assembly takes a stab… uh, face hugger?…. To this storied franchise. Could it be better than Aliens; Colonial Marines? Which, to be honest, is not hard to accomplish, but still, this game will be compared to anyways. Let’s see how scary, and the most important part, fun this game could be!
Alien Isolation takes place 42 years after the events of the first movies. You play as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley from the movies. Amanda is in search for clues about how her mother disappeared. She is then told about flight recorded from her mother’s ship the Nostromo is on the Sevastopol space station. Amanda agrees to go with them. Let’s just say it does not go according to plan and all hell breaks loose. Ripley starts to find herself in a space station that is in chaos. Every human for themselves and a creature is after her as well. She must traverse the many levels of the space station to find answers to the disappearance of her mom, and about who happened to this space station. Throughout the game, audio recordings will help bridge the gap, and give Ripley a deeper understanding of what happened. It is very Bioshock but works well. The story itself was pretty good. It always made me one to go on, and in video games, that is what is needed in a story. Find a reason to care about the person. Even though some of the themes have already been done in the Aliens movies, it still worked.
Gameplay, Design, and Everything Else that Makes It Fun!
The gameplay is very great. The sense of finding every bullet or fire canister was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Since Creative Assembly stuck with really trying to survival without finding it does pay tribute to Ridley Scott‘s version of Alien. The game allows Ripley to duck under desks, beds, and tables. A player should use this to his or her advantage. She can also hide in cabinets, lockers, air ducts, and sometimes underneath the floor. This adds to the variety in how the game can be played. There are also rewiring units for Ripley to turn off and on certain systems. Turning off the air purification can hide you from enemies, but it does cloud your vision. Weapons are handed out throughout the game, but never intended to be used frequently. Ripley is never given enough ammo to shoot everything. Word of warning chose your battles wisely. Ripley is also an engineer, and the game has a building mechanic. Ripley can find components throughout the levels, but can only carry a certain amount. She can build noise makers, Molotov cocktails, emp, flashbang, smoke grenades, pipe bombs, and med kits. Noise makers are useful to draw enemy attention away from you. The enemies varied in the game. The game has humans, androids, face huggers, and the alien. All but one can be killed. Humans can detect you quicker than androids, but are not as strong. Humans can use weapons, but androids are slow and take longer to detect the player. Face huggers are easy to kill, but once they jump on your game over. You cannot kill the Alien. Creative Assembly made them unable to die in the game. Once Amanda gets the flamethrower, she can make it go back into hiding. This should be used not very often.I found the game hard, and you will die a lot. There is no possible way of getting around that. Just accept that death is in your future while playing this game. This would be a good time to say that the game has saved stations and you should use them as often as you can. This game is hard, and even the medium setting will be challenging. Be prepared for multiple tries on some of the levels. If the alien is in the level just accept you will die a lot. One tool that helps and can get you killed is the motion tracker. It can help Amanda know where enemies are, but the Alien creature hear the beeping sound. Be cautious when using it. The Alien seems to be extremely smart as well. It will search for you in lockers and cabinets, so never spend too much time in one place. The Alien also never acts the same if you retry a level. This game will challenge your wits and patience so be prepared.
Graphics, Sound, and All the Rest:
The graphics in this game look great. Creative Assembly seems to use a lot of subtle touches that added to the game. When looking at the motion tracker, everything gets blurry, which is a great us of FOV or field of vision. This happens every time you look at something. The nod to the nostalgia is also something for Creative Assembly to be commented on. They could have just made everything look high-tech, but they chose to be true to the original Alien. That means everything looks 8-bit or we went back to using DOS in the future. It was a subtle but nice touch. There were some minor glitches that I encountered through my game time. At times, the game engine would have floating objects that should not be doing that. It was funny but did not detract from the game. Another glitch was when aiming a weapon it would disappear. It was comical, but it fired, so it was no big deal as well. The character models were well done, but it was weird that everyone seemed to be always sweating. It was really odd to me. The snap of sparks flying off broken wire looked great, and even the fire look realistic.
The sound design is well done. Every weapon sounded like it had weight behind it. From the shot fired from the .45 magnum to the whack of the wrench to break a lock, it sounded great. The voice acting was done well. Even the parts of Ellen Ripley was great. Every character sounded like they were in a dire situation. You could hear the stress and the utter horror from the humans. The androids were also well done. The sound design on detecting where the Alien might be was a genius trick. When the Alien was walking around the level its movement would make a loud thud depending on where the player was. If the Alien retreated to the air ducts, then it’s footsteps would not be as loud. It was a great use of sound. Everything that fell seemed to scare me to no end. Which is great for a horror type game. Whoever was in charge of the sound really did an outstanding job.
DLC and Multiplayer:
If you preordered the game, Creative Assembly gave players some tidbits of what it may have been like being on the Nostromo. These two DLCs are not very long, but still provide some great nerve-racking, pulse-pounding gameplay like the main game. The multiplayer is just a standard is named Survival mode. This just gives players a list of challenges they have to beat. It can be fun, but the main game is what is the best part of it.
Worth a Play?
If you like these types of games or loved the Alien franchise, then, yes it is. It is roughly 30 to 40 hours of play time depending how often you die. It is a challenging game, and Creative Assembly should be proud of themselves. It is well paced, and a delight to play. I recommend putting this game on your Christmas list, or just buy it.