To say a game should have a health warning may be considered a little cliche but in Alien Isolation this may also be correct. To be in an constant emotional loop of fear, paranoia and hopelessness will reinforce the point that this may be the scariest game to be released this year.
For your heart to be pounding as you open every door and peek around every corner, you are plunged into a dark set of intricate layouts of corridors and rooms where the only thing stopping you from facing death is the material you scavenge and the quick thinking you have adopted from all the Stealth/Horror games you may have played, but only take that instinct, nothing else.
Alien Isolation pushes you to forget everything you have learnt from previous titles and puts you on a crash course to understand one distressing creature, the Alien itself. As many have said before, “You can’t fight it, you can’t hurt it, you can’t run from it, you can only hide” with that in mind, be forced to learn from the Alien to understand how to out maneuver it will only help you half of the way, because it will learn from you.
The Alien has a knack to pick up on what you do best and outsmart you at every turn. Where you may lure it to unsuspecting survivors on the space station to gain just a little more time to loot or activate objectives, it will deal with them swiftly then follow the distraction back to the source, granting you some safe haven but only for so long. You may feel safe under tables or take a specific route, to only find then when you are in need of backtracking to another objective it may already be there. Waiting. Hunched over, looking down on you under that favourite table you always sought refuge. You’re forced to do things differently. Every time.
The other inhabitants of the station – where you are indeed a survivor – are a lot like you, though many are not even human. Throughout the space station, you come across humans and Synthetics. Humans will react to any conflict or danger, whereas Synthetics are not fleshy or able to feel pain, (and may I add NOT an interest to the Alien) will kick you around in an attempt to stop you from accessing or retrieving specific objectives throughout. Again the same rule of learning applies. They learn and they won’t always fall for the same old distractions, they are smart and can outsmart, something we don’t see often and only strengthens the fear factor.
To get around all these inconveniences, your character “Ripley” is an engineer, with the skills from her trade she can get around the station with relative ease and can amass a whole collection of gizmos and tools to get you that little distance from the Alien and inhabitants. These range from health packs to pipe bombs. To build theses you come across scrap on your travels, but be smart about your needs as the gear isn’t cheap and the scrap isn’t easy to replace when used.
To say the AI is the most dominant feature in Alien Isolation would be unfair, it’s rivalled by its incredible effects and design. Taking you back to the Nostromo days in the original Alien film, the space station is accurately reproduced and walks you through some realistic visuals you don’t regularly come across. Where the game is dark mostly, the features such as fire and sparks need to be prominent and it does it right. Even the shadows which we so regularly rely on to find and enemies location are polished to such a detail that you know exactly what you’re dealing with and where to go from there. The team at The Creative Assembly have indeed delivered an incredible location with an inspiring thriller of a story to go with it, just how Ridley Scott would have pictured it.
Alien Isolation is unpredictable and terrifying, making it different every time. this can sometimes be unbearable but the sheer quality and the confidence you feel when pushing a little further makes it all the sweeter when you finally get to your destination.