On October 7 Sega released Alien: Isolation; developed by Creative Assembly, the game is the latest installment in Sega’s Alien game franchise. Previous releases of the Alien storyline have floated like a turd in a punch bowl, but at the suggestion of a few folks at AMD, I decided to give it a shot.
Alien: Isolation takes place fifteen years after the events of the original movie; taking the role of Amanda Ripley, daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s character, you travel to the space station of a rival company to retrieve the flight recorder of Ellen Ripley’s escape pod. Things go to hell upon arrival and Amanda is separated from her team and left to fend for herself on the station amid the chaos. Something (I’m pretty sure you know what) is on board the station and hunting its inhabitants, while a crazed AI slowly takes control of the station
I want to dislike the visuals, but I can’t. While the ultra realistic detail I normally crave falls a bit short, I have to admit that the graphics are stunning, nonetheless. I admired that the developers kept the setting and environment true to the original movie’s setting. Alien: Isolation is set in a future where space travel and colonization of other worlds is a reality; rather than give the scenery an ultra-futuristic update, we have the same green displays we would expect of a late 70s sci fi film.
The only complaint I have is the areas of unpassable clutter. You see, there is no jump that I can find. So you can run like hell but that small two foot crate might as well be a cement wall.
The shortfall in graphics are more than made up for in the audio. Certain cutscenes incorporate a heart pounding music; as the alien crawls through the ductwork, you can hear it. Oh, and screams, lots and lots of screams…
The name of the game is run like hell, run some more, hide, cower and hope nothing hears you. On top of avoiding becoming a life size Cheetoh for the alien, crazed synthetics under the control of the station AI, and paranoid survivors are there to ruin your day. Of course, the alien thinks they are nice and crunchy too…
As you move through the station, you discover plans and materials to craft improvised weapons; while these are good for the occasional human survivor, tougher enemies like the synthetics will take a few more smacks with the wrench and likely kick your ass for your trouble. As for the alien, just don’t. Fortunately if it is not facing you directly, it may not see you, but if you make too much noise or stand up and wave well, just save the game every chance you get.
Oh, those nice vents that you can hide in? I thought I could outrun the alien and jump in one, only to find out that the bastard will reach in and drag your ass out like a wino on a welfare check. It’s hard to say that getting your ass killed in imaginative ways is entertaining, but the developers do a good job of making each occurrence unique. I can’t say I look forward to it, but I have to give them credit.
Alien: Isolation is a game you have to take in doses; I’m sure that there are some out there who have played this in one sitting, but I don’t have it in me. Multiple missions will take hours to complete, not because they are long, but because once it appears that damn alien is every place you need to be. Have I finished it yet? Hell no, but I sure as hell will.
At $49.99, Alien: Isolation is right at the sweet spot in price. An additional thirty will grab you the Season Pass for all the DLC, three of which are already released. Despite becoming repeatedly frustrated, I have enjoyed the suspense and will likely pick more of the DLC up after I finish the main mission.
Alien: Isolation is the sort of game that will keep you on the edge of your seat, piss you off, and then slowly beckon you back. Much like your spouse.