In Alien Isolation you play Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripleys daughter who is mentioned in the alien movies. You set out on a mission to find out more about your mothers disapearance. Taking place 15 years after the events of 'Alien', Amanda gets transferred to the space station, the Sevastopol to retrieve the flight recorder from the Nostromo. Sounds like a pretty straight forward task but as to be expected the shit hits the fan pretty much from the get go and you're placed in a delapidated space station. Where most of the crew has been wiped out and the rest are just trying to survive.
Alien Isolation is the new game in the alien franchise that takes from its humble beginnings as a survival horror and shies away from what other games tried to focus on, such as the generic first person shooter of the previous entry into its game line-up by the way of Aliens: Colonial Marines. I think it’s pretty much fair to say that with this game they were really looking to make up for that games many and i do mean many short comings when it came to dealing with the alien franchise. There is so much fan service in this game that if you’re a fan of the original Alien movie then you’re going to love this game for its attention to detail and for letting you be stalked by a lone alien that drops down from vents and chases you along corridors.
The visuals in this game are just stunning especially on PC, PS4 and Xbox one and even though there isn’t much in the way of variety when it comes to the corridors it does bring across a great sense of being alone and just about helpless. With amazing lighting effects and great textures the overall visual quality of Alien Isolation is hard to find fault with. In fact the only issue i had at times was realizing that they must have hired a few sets of twins on the space station that wear the same clothes just in different colours. This however was easily forgiven as the human encounters you have on the space station are very few and far between.
Sound design on this game is pretty much spot on. From the clinks and clangs of the space station falling apart to the stomps of the alien making its way through the vents above your head. The voice acting is top notch in particularly Ripley who is voiced in a way that adds that little bit of extra fear when things get pretty nerve racking. The voice acting however is let down by some pretty bad lip syncing which takes you out of the moment a little bit during certain sections. The music cues of course do their bit to add to the scares as to be expected in a game in the survival horror genre and let me just say the voices of those androids is just down right freaky and really adds to the cold lifeless feel you get from their animations. This game needs to be played with a good set of headphones on to fully lose yourself on that space station.
When it comes to gameplay most of it will be spent hiding. Whether it be under tables, in lockers and even under the bed. Trust me when it comes to that alien and those freaky as all hell androids you’re going to want to take those options. Even though your are given weapons you are more often than not better off hiding and waiting for the threat to pass than face it front on, making a more stealthy form of dealing with situations essential when it comes to playing Alien Isolation. With the arsenal you have you don’t feel totally helpless but unless you’re up against human enemies and the occasional android your pretty much out muscled and out second-mouthed chomped.
One thing that will happen in this game a lot is dying. Even on easier settings that alien still poses one hell of a challenge to try and elude. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if it wasn’t for the games save system. It gave me a feeling that the reason they went with the save points you access via emergency telephones was to add longevity to the game time. Nothing would be more frustrating than having done your best sneaking around, spending half an hour or more avoiding aliens and androids to get to an objective, only to die and find you have to do it all again. A pretty good chunk of this games potentially 20 plus hour game length would have been time spent re-doing sections of the game where you fail to come across these emergency telephones. There were a few sections where i noted where a save point was and once a completed a particular bit i would back track to save my game just to make sure i wouldn’t have to go through what could have been a particularly lengthy part.
The crafting system is very well done and certain things such as unlocking doors and accessing computers adds to the setting by giving you back ground info on the space station,as well as the ability to access other sections and coded storage units. Of course while you’re accessing these you are vulnerable and while the id tag collectables are a nice touch it really adds very little to the overall experience and come off as more of an after thought.
The alien itself is at times unpredictable and you will be checking your underwear if you’re lucky enough to have it pass you by. With the now classic motion tracker in your hand you have one of the best tools for your survival as well as one that could cost you your life. If the big guy is in your area and you make any sound, even that coming from the motion tracker it will no doubt make short work of you. Its ai is really well done and can be used to your advantage, such as disposing of those pesky humans that are blocking you from reaching your goal. Just make sure you have a plan to make sure it doesn't back fire on you.
Alien Isolation is the alien game fans of the franchise have been waiting for. It's one of the few games recently in the survival horror genre that has a good balance of making you feel helpless yet not like a big baby crying in the corner with nothing more than the light from your phone to defend yourself. With amazing visuals and great nods to its source material it's only real let down is a save system that adds to an already long game length, which has me thinking twice about going back to replay it. If you’re a fan of stealth based games and survival horror you can’t pass up this game as it does all of that pretty much erfectly.
Alien Isolation gets an 8.5 out of 10.