Developed by:The Creative Assembly Published by:SEGA Genre(s):
  • Survival Horror
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1 Release date:October 7, 2014 Reviewed on:PC

    Alien: Isolation

    As a fan of the Alien franchise, it is a dream of mine to one day play a game that is true to the source material; one that accurately captures what it would be like to head to head with a Xenomorph. And while SEGA’s Alien: Isolation isn’t as masterful as I had hoped, it sure came close to being the excellent Alien(s) game I’ve always wanted!

    Alien: Isolation takes place fifteen year after the events of Alien. Since the disappearance of her mother, Ellen Ripley, Amanda Ripley has grown up to be a successful engineer. While going about her daily routine repairing equipment, she is approached by a Weyland-Yutani synthetic named Christopher Samuels. He tells her that the flight recorder from the Nostromo (the ship from the first movie) has been found and could give them some answers as to what happened to the crew. In order to retrieve it, they’d have to go to a space station called Sevastopol; the ship that found the recorder is docked there. Seeing as how this may be the only way to find out what happened to her mother, Amanda agrees to accompany Samuel’s crew to the station. Unfortunately, Sevastopol isn’t in the best of shape when they get there. It’s been heavily damaged and communications are down…

    It would be a gross understatement for me to say that I was skeptical about Alien: Isolation’s quality. After years of playing  a range of decent to horrible Alien games – the abysmal Aliens: Colonial Marines is the best example of this – I didn’t want to get my hopes up. That said, The Creative Assembly was determined to not only live up to the high expectations by the franchise’s fans but to also make a unique experience worth revisiting. This fact is first made apparent by the game’s presentation. To be frank, outside of some rough spots with character facial animations, the visuals are spot on. Everything from the old VHS style recordings and antiquated computer terminals to the space suits and items like the motion trackers have all undergone rigorous detailing to look as authentic as possible. It’s as if the developers lifted these elements from Ridley Scott’s film, dusted them off, bumped them up to HD and placed them in the game. Even the smoke – my God, this game has the most sophisticated smoke particles ever; not only does it realistically emit from its source of origin but it also has different density levels based on how much is or isn’t there. The same can be said about the fire and the way its vapors distort the area around it and how pools of water collect on different surfaces. Bottom Line, AI looks damn good on my PC!

    Another area of praise would come from the game’s pacing. It’s very deliberate, with strong story beats that fall into place as the player continues along their journey. Interesting enough though, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the slower moments. A long walk through an environment while NPCs talked to my character would normally be considered a dull event. That wasn’t the case here as each of these slow-moving moments actually added to the suspense. Making players walk slowly through a derelict ship while wearing a spacesuit was a great way to immerse them in the setting at that particular point in the game. Something bad happened here and you aren’t safe. The first-person perspective helped as well since the spacesuit’s helmet limits your view; it warps the edges, lending to sense of claustrophobia.

    Most of the game is designed this way. The alien, your main adversary, isn’t even introduced at the beginning of your adventure. An hour or two passes before your first encounter. Again, while this might seem like a bad thing it’s actually quite good. The slow passage of time and gradual building of tension results in one of the best monster/antagonist reveals in all of gaming history! From that moment on, players will engage in a twisted game of cat and mouse. The alien will be relentless in its search for…well, anyone living on the Sevastopol. It’ll effectively slows down the pace even more as players will be forced to stealthily make their way through the rest of the game. What makes things really interesting is his seemingly random  nature. There’s no telling when he’ll pop up, how long he’ll stay in an area, or what room/vent he’ll emerge from. Adding to this is the fact that you can’t kill or outrun him. You’re basically being stalked by death for most of the game.

    Speaking of death, you will die often. Just about everything Amanda does is in real time. The game doesn’t pause when you need to say, activate a lift, craft an item or hack the access panel controlling a locked door. Heck, you aren’t  even safe when saving your game, which is done at emergency pay phone like devices scattered across the station. Completing any of these tasks usually takes a few seconds, long enough for you to be killed in gruesome fashion. Pulling up the motion tracker will help to alleviate some of the tension as it alerts you to nearby movement. Even when using it though, it’s easy to be blindsided or tricked by the alien. There was one point where I thought I was safe because the motion tracker didn’t sense anything. After deciding it was safe to leave my hiding area, I looked up and noticed slime coming from a vent. Looking closely, I could see the alien’s breath; it was just sitting there, waiting for someone to walk by. I was petrified. Even after it was long gone I was still too afraid to venture out into the open. How smart was this thing?

    The only thing I didn’t like about the Alien was his ability to know what part of the station to find me on. He’d have no reason to look for me in certain places and would still show up. At one point I saw him go into a vent to leave, stop and drop right back down before continuing his search. It was as if the game wouldn’t allow him to go too far away from whatever area I was currently in. As you can imagine, this made me a little frustrated at times; for the life of me, I just could not get away. I understand that it would not be as scary if you could lose him completely. And to be fair, there were moments in the game where he didn’t show up at all. But his omnipresent like nature took away from the idea of him being smart. It obviously didn’t ruin my experience or make me want to quit, but it is something that should be noted.

    If the alien’s random behavior and ability to learn/trick me wasn’t scary enough, there were these androids called Working Joes that also thoroughly freaked me out. These bots were made by Weylan-Yutani’s nearly bankrupt rival, the Seegson Corporation. They were years away from being as sophisticated as the franchise’s normal synthetics. Void of human emotions and resembling a bad copy of their Weylan counterparts, the gaze from their glowing eyes was downright creepy at times. The fact that they could malfunction and turn violent at a moment’s notice though made them terrifying enemies. And of course, the alien couldn’t care less about them. Make enough noise fighting one of them off and the alien will come running, ending the encounter with a bloody mess.

    Though danger lurks just about everywhere, Amanda is equipped to handle most situations. You know, beyond hiding under beds or in lockers. What I like about her the most though is that she doesn’t take the weakling turned Rambo route that’s so prevalent in game’s today. She never learns how to shoot a gun well, isn’t efficient in hand-to-hand combat and doesn’t enjoying killing…ever. She’s much more realistic than say Lora Croft, if you will. At the same time, she isn’t a pushover; she’s a Ripley after all. Because of her engineering background, she can cobble together different items to make makeshift weapons. An EMP mine can stun Working Joes long enough for her to dispatch them. A noise maker can be used to send the alien in the wrong direction (or after other humans who are trying to kill her). She can also take a beating. Just moments after an explosion that sent her crashing into the side of the station, she was able to climb her way back to the airlock in heroic fashion. All and all, she is a great protagonist – a yin for the alien’s yang!

    Most of my time in Alien: Isolation was simply great. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case all the way through. The first two thirds of the game was awesomely paced, featured an intriguing narrative, and one of the most frightening monsters to ever grace this genre. They were vastly more entertaining than the last third, which was way too difficult for its own good. For whatever reason, the last half took away the Xenomorph and replaced him with legions of nearly indestructible Working Joes. There’s one point in the game where you have to kill at least five of them before you can move forward. Oh but don’t worry, it never turns into an action packed experience as limited ammo and resources is the name of the game. It just becomes incredibly frustrating as the nearly limitless stealthy gameplay that allowed for multiple tactical options was narrowed down to one course of action.

    This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue if the game didn’t go on for a long as it does. I swear Ripley has got to be the most unlucky person in the galaxy. The number of times her progress is halted by a double cross, the alien, or a random explosion reaches absurd levels. There’s a part late in the game, where you’ll need to back track a crazy long distance while being hunted by groups of enemies that is just unfair. It gets so bad that at one point, I questioned whether or not I wanted to see the ending. Which, might I add, was very anticlimactic.

    It saddens me to say that one padded section nearly ruined the entire game. I almost skipped the extra content that allows you to play as the original crew of the Nostromo (an awesome addition to the game). Still, I wouldn’t be an Alien fan if I didn’t recommend you play this game regardless. For all of the things it does wrong, the game does so many things right. The atmosphere, the great pacing, the visuals and sound work, the nods to the film – The Creative Assembly worked really hard on this title. And the padded third portion can’t completely derail their efforts. Alien: Isolation is by far the best Aliens game to date and deserves our undivided attention!



    Majority of the game is flawless. The annoying last part should be done away with though (or at least heavily amended).



    Outside of some rough facial animations here and there, it’s a sight for sore eyes; being authentic to the film it’s based on puts it over the top.



    The ambient noises did a good job of immersing the player in this world. The Xenomorph’s screeches did a great job of scaring the player half to death!

    Replay Value:


    There are extra modes to tackle (like survival) with a leaderboard to gauge your success amongst the rest of the world. And the DLC content featuring the cast of the first film is great. I doubt many people will want to replay the main story though, at least not in its entirety.

    Final Score:


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