Imagine that you are alone in a laboratory and that there is an Alien that is trying to hunt you down. Do you hide in the locker? Go under the bed? Will you try to dash out of the doorway? Alien: Isolation plays this game with the player on a frighteningly near-constant basis. The threat of having your face bitten off by that acid spewing alien thing is all too real, and one wrong move is all it takes. The scariest part is that you cannot predict what the alien will do. The developers designed the Alien to act on its own, hardly any action could be considered as predictable as the Alien reacts dynamically to the world around it, further adding to the strong tension of the game.
What is Alien: Isolation?
Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game played in a first person perspective. Players take on the role of Amanda, the daughter of Ellen Ripley. It goes without saying that players interested in this game should keep up on the film's lore by watching at least the original movie. While there is context as to the nature of the aliens, the danger of face huggers, and other related stuff made available in the game, it pays off to actually see the alien in action before facing it head on.
Straight from the Films
The developers did an exemplary job of making a game that actually feels like it is part of the movies. The camera work, angles, lighting, and even the music feels richly inspired by the movie. But more than the actual delivery techniques, Alien: Isolation brought the spirit and feel of the original movie into the game –a feat for which the developers deserve major credit for. Ridley Scott would be proud of this game.
This spirit is not just implemented in the game's delivery. Even the gameplay itself feeds off the energy of the movie. Danger is constant and real, and players are faced with the notion of having to make important decisions fast. If you open up your inventory to sort out your gear, that danger does not grind to a halt either. Everything in the game happens in real time (except when you literally pause the game do to some real life stuff), and this adds not only to the tension, but also to the immersive experience.
It Also Gets Frustrating
As amazing as this game is, it lacks one major thing to make it fun: growth. Throughout the entire game, you will always be in the role of a prey. No matter what gun or weapon you get, the Alien will always be tougher, stronger, and simply more dangerous. There is simply no way to just win against it. And while the totally random AI sounds cool, it gets tiring after a while. There are times when it just pointless loiters around the same hallway even if your are hiding perfectly. Sometimes, it decides to backtrack for no reason at all. Bottom line is, unless you keep an eye on the motion detector, you can end up dead pretty quick, in a very anti-climactic way.
Still an Amazing Game
Dealing with the Alien and all the little plot twists in the end of the game is entertaining, but it is mostly a frustrating venture that makes it hard to appreciate. The good news is that this last bit of gameplay is already the worst of the lot. Alien: Isolation is definitely a lot more fun near the very start of it all.
There is an absolute novelty in the experience of playing this game for the first time. It manages to capture and deliver the fear that the first film stood for –and helped cement the legend of Ripley to sci-fi and horror fans all over the world. Sadly, as Amanda, players do not get to experience the same character growth. You do not get to admire her as like Ripley, which is a real shame since she's the one you are controlling. You spend the game scared, fearful, and constantly on edge –which the developers seem to have forgotten as only half of what the first film made the viewers feel.