Either you’re going to love this game or you’re going to hate it. There’s a lot riding on elements of fandom, terror, and gameplay here. You really have to ask yourself a few questions before you take the plunge. We really should make a flowchart for you in deciding whether or not to allow yourself to experience this game, starting with the key – have you seen the original ALIEN film?
When you create a video game that enters an preexisting universe, you set yourself up for pointed reactions. Fans of the original ALIEN film immediately jabbed spikes into their eyes when they heard Ellen Ripley’s daughter would be starring in a new game when Alien: Isolation was first announced. Horror game fans casted serious shade at the idea that another ALIEN game was being made in the first place.
But lo! And behold! The night-mare has returned – if you can find it. Or if it can find you, more likely. The creators of this game very intelligently concentrated on the horror aspect above all. Bringing the game to conventions in a monstrous egg where they’d record the reactions of players in the dark.
ALIEN was the world’s first terror movie. It’s not just aiming to cause horror in the minds of its audience, it aims to terrorize them as it tears down its inhabitants.
The film ALIEN was all about those moments you’d see once and never be able to forget. ALIEN: Isolation is the same way.
This game does not aim to provide you with new exciting visuals and unique puzzles around every corner. It treats the H.R. Giger monster the way it was meant to be treated: as an unstoppable demon. As a god-like killer.
Because much of the game is unscripted, you wont necessarily come upon the Alien within the first 10 minutes. In fact, it’s far more likely that you’ll go well over a half-hour into the game without seeing the Alien at all. You will see the rest of your crew on your ship as well as the occasional droid running about the space station once you’re aboard.
You may toss together a motion tracker to sweat your way through the retro-futuristic corridors of the space station Sevastopol. The *pip* sound isn’t exactly your friend, on the other hand, as it’s used as an object of stress in every Alien movie it appears in.
But no matter what, even when you see the occasional moving object, droid, or what-have-you, you are alone. Alone with the beast.
One way or another, you’ll know the Alien is near. You wont be able to stop it. You’ll hear its footsteps. You’ll feel its presence.
As you pick up, cobble together, and lose your equipment – as you find yourself blocked off in some areas, trapped in others – the controls will fade away. The game will take over. The fear will set in.
I’ve heard several times now that there are around 15 hours of gameplay in this title. I can’t imagine playing it in such a short stretch.
There’s so much here that you can discover that I do not want to put the game down. In a world full of games with secret doors, accomplishments, and rewards, The Creative Assembly have trumped them all with voice acting from the original ALIEN cast.
You’ll be able to find voice logs, documents, and odds and ends that give depth to the ALIEN universe – a universe you’ll truly feel is cannon here in Isolation.
Above you’ll see the first few minutes of the game once you’ve been given control. Here you’ll walk through a ship that’s essentially identical to the Nostromo – same model and everything.
Not so great
There are several inexcusable visual glitches we’re hoping The Creative Assembly take care of as quickly as possible, and they all have to do with the speaking characters in the game. They’re great, don’t get me wrong, but they most certainly live inside the uncanny valley.
That adds a bit to the unsettling nature of the game, the fact that these characters seem real (and yet not). But the reality of the situation is that when you can see through your comrade’s face when you’re speaking with her. That’s not so super.
Here it’s important to note that we’re playing on maxed-out settings with an Acer 28-inch 4K G-Sync XB280HK Monitor and a Falcon Northwest Tiki with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan-Z and the newest in new Intel Core i7-4790K under the hood.
If you’re severely claustrophobic, do not play this game. If you have a heart condition or get violently fearful, you might want to reconsider. If you forget to eat food when you watch a horror movie – you might want to make sure you’ve got your snacks right in front of you.
I got sick to my stomach the first time I played this game. I lost track of time, forgot that I was playing a game. I’m one of those people that forgets to eat, so I became very uncomfortable. Luckily I found a phone terminal and was able to save before I started to dry-heave.
Snacks, liquids, and proper lighting will go a long way in keeping you from freaking out. Listening to this game with over-ear headphones like the ones we were using can induce a real full experience.
The Creative Assembly have created a monster. They’ve carved a new notch in the plank that pairs movies with games, and we applaud them for that. This is the longest, most terrifying movie (that also happens to be a video game) we’ve ever experienced.
This game will be released to all platforms on October 7th, 2014. If you’re a PC gamer and aim to take hold of this title with a Steam purchase, you can get it as soon as you wish. Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 releases – as well as the PC release – will all cost $59.99 USD.
There are some secrets we won’t give away here and we’ve kept this review short so as not to ruin any major surprises. But know this – this game does NOT give in to the failed legacy set by ALIEN video games of the past. It’s fresh, it’s solid, and it’s well worth your cash.