After a few weeks of what can only be described as an emotional and psychological onslaught, I’ve done it. I’ve finished Alien Isolation. Here are my thoughts.
You are Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley who no one has heard from since the Nostromo landed on the moon LV-426. Fans of the Aliens series know why but Amanda has no clue what happened to her mum. The game begins with Weyland-Yutani executive Samuels approaching Amanda with news that somebody has managed to locate the flight recorder from the Nostromo and that it is currently being held aboard Sevastopol, a space station owned by the Seegson corporation. Samuels offers Amanda the opportunity to come with him and retrieve this recorder in the hope that she can get some closure on whatever happened to her mother, which Amanda accepts. So Ripley, Samuels and Weyland-Yutani lawyer Taylor head off to Sevastopol on a ship called “the Torrens”. However, when they arrive, they find that the station is damaged and communication to be dead. Left with no other choice, Ripley, Samuels and Taylor decide to spacewalk over to Sevastopol to investigate. Things only go from bad to worse when debris strikes them separating their EVA line leaving Ripley all by herself who somehow manages to scramble into the Sevastopol airlock and gain access to the station.
When Amanda gets out of her spacesuit, it becomes clear that something is very wrong at Sevastopol. The ship seems deserted, in disrepair and there are no signs of life except for graffiti which covers the walls. The station has descended into chaos. As she explores the station, she quickly discovers that the society onboard this station has broken down. There are survivors but those that still remain have grouped together into small factions and they aren’t too fond of outsiders. Ripley’s only option is to find the bridge and try and make contact with the Torrens. It’s unsafe here and she needs to find out if Samuels and Taylor made it back. After successfully avoiding three armed survivors who try to hunt her down, she is confronted by a man named Axel who holds her at gunpoint. He tells her that the reason that the station has gone into meltdown is because there is a monster onboard it and it is hunting down each and everyone of them. These people have no escape so the only way they are able to survive is in packs as they scavenge the station for weapons and food. Ripley tells Axel that she can help him IF he helps her. In exchange for his direction around the station so that she can find the recorder and find a way to contact her ship, she will help him get off this hell hole. Unfortunately for the two of them, this objective is far from straightforward. The monster lurks in the darkness.
Alien Isolation is a first person survival horror with a huge emphasis on stealth. Unlike first person shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, the objective is not about gunning down your enemies. It’s about avoiding and outsmarting your enemy, which is predominantly the alien onboard Sevastopol. To advance through the game, you must explore the space station using nothing more than a motion tracker in addition to a few gadgets and some weapons with very limited ammunition. And don’t be fooled. While you must repel and/or avoid the alien, it is not the only thing out to get you. Human occupants and hostile androids known as “Working Joes” are also out to make your life a living hell. The good news is that you can defeat these. Just don’t try killing the alien as it won’t die!!
In fact, the alien AI is pretty impressive. The alien does not follow obvious routes and is extremely receptive to your movements and sounds (even more so if you turn on your Kinect which I wouldn’t advise if you have a cough or anxiety). Make no mistake about it, the alien is hunting you down and it will find you unless you tread very carefully.
Luckily, you have a motion tracker that helps you to keep tabs on the alien. When you hear it bleep, that usually means it’s a good time to hide under the nearest desk or in the nearest locker. Just know two things: 1) it does not beep when it is standing still (it may be hiding in the vent above you waiting to pounce) and 2) the alien can also hear the tracker so if it’s near you, you want to silence it.
In addition to different weapons that you collect through the game such as a pistol and flamethrower, you also hunt for parts. These enable you to make additional tools like molotovs, EMP devices and medikits. You should also be aware that this game is no a checkpoint saver. You WILL have to find terminals to save your progress.
The games visuals and atmosphere are FANTASTIC and they make you feel like you really are on Sevastopol. The sound is also top notch and genuinely terrifying. I didn’t want to play the game too late at night because I was genuinely concerned at not being able to sleep. However, while the atmosphere was really great, the gameplay did get quite repetitive over time. I don’t want to spoil anything for future players but I couldn’t help but feel at times that the game was dragging on and with you being required to go back to certain areas of the space station multiple times, you do kind of feel like that the story is being uneccesarily spread out. The game does also feel at times like you are playing a game of fetch with the objectives repeatedly demanding you to collect key cards or to access terminals to unlock things.
The game is very tense though even if you do feel at times like you are overexposed to the alien. It genuinely does get your adrenaline pumping and even tightens your chest. It can also be incredibly frustrating as the alien doesn’t give you much of a let up to the point where you can get quite angry if you don’t take breaks. But kudos to the atmosphere. It really is top notch.
I would love to say that Alien Isolation is a fun game but it is definitely unique and very atmospheric experience. It is also very stressful. And while I am positive that some people would have thrived on that stress, it didn’t make me want to run back as much as I would have liked, especially as I am such a big fan of the Alien series. The game did capture many of the intricate details that made the Alien film great however and that deserves some praise. I also wasn’t satisfied by the ending of the game, which is the main pay off of any adventure. Whether or whether not this was done to entice a sequel, your guess is as good as mine but when you put the gamer through the stress levels that this game puts you through, you want something in return.
In the end, I would give this game a C+
~ Atmosphere is incredible
~ Graphics are superb
~ Captures the feel of Ridley Scott’s Alien.
~ Poor ending
~ The game dragged on and was repetitive
~ The game was too stressful.