Alien: Isolation preview – the beast has returned

Alien: Isolation preview – the beast has returned

Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game currently in development by Creative Assembly, a  studio that’s shone in the past with gems such as the Total War strategy series.

If you believe the earliest news about the game, Alien: Isolation, then you’ll see that it seems to be taking a stand against the mediocre videogame adaptations which have recently damaged the reputation of the franchise. Instead, it will align itself more closely with the original film, Alien rather than the mindless follow-ups.

But how has the studio managed to forget the pitiful Aliens: Colonial Marines, the last adaptation to date? We’ve not got enough information to get an idea about the true potential of new title. Take your scalpel, because we’re going to find out exactly what this new Alien actually has in its stomach…

Default player

A family affair

In Alien: Isolation, you play Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the heroine of the film. The game begins 15 years after the events of Alien, while the young woman tries to shed light on the disappearance of her mother, leading to the investigation of a space station whose crew was killed by a xenomorph, the famous monster of the movie.

Amanda Ripley Alien: IsolationAmanda Ripley leads the investigation into the disappearance of her mother

A thriller in game form

True to the spirit of the original film, Alien: Isolation is a science-fiction thriller with lots of tension. Forget the bodybuilding colonial marines and the mythical Pulse Rifles seen in the last films in the series. In Alien: Isolation, it’s the stealth and cunning of the players that’s put to the forefront. It’s very simple: in Alien: Isolation, you’re the prey. The Alien, in turn, is an omnipresent threat lurking in the shadows ready to pounce at any time.

Fortunately, Amanda is able to hide behind the decorative elements and throw furtive glances to monitor the progress of the monster. The heroine can also run, but traveling like this is noisy and can attract the attention of the Alien.

Of course, the young woman isn’t completely helpless: Amanda can make makeshift weapons from recycled materials or hack devices to retrieve information and progress around the station.

And even if the heroine can’t rely on an impressive arsenal, the legendary motion detector is still there. It’s just as well – the tool quickly becomes indispensable if you’re hoping to survive the monster. Fans can rest assured: like in the movies, the motion detector doesn’t indicate whether the object detected is located on the same level, above… or below the feet of the heroine. If you’re a fan of heart-thumping tension, then this one is for you.

Alien: IsolationThe motion detector is still a valuable tool

A monster that’s larger than life

The initials of Alien: Isolation are AI or Artificial Intelligence. A coincidence? Maybe not. Anyway, this will be crucial because the monster is the character with whom players spend the most time, except Amanda herself.

Invincible, this killing machine persecutes the heroine with his hyper-developed senses. The monster can, for example, identify traces left by the player should a locker door or hatch remain open. Creative Assembly have stated that the game is made better by the alien predator adopting real behavior…and that’s the truth. Far from the stiff movements and scripted attacks you find in many games, the monster in Alien: Isolation will adapt to the player and learn from him at each meeting. Learning over time, it will develop parodies of player strategies and set traps himself – pretty chilling.

Fortunately, the Alien also leave traces that give vital clues to the most attentive of players. Specific grunts indicate the different levels of alert of the creature. These sounds allow players to determine whether the predator is about to attack or has just spotted something that caught his attention.

Alien: IsolationThe monster in Alien: Isolation adapts to the player’s strategies

An Alien in its own juice

Unlike most video game adaptations related to the Alien franchise, the new title from Creative Assembly draws upon the first installment in the film series. The English studio wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the original Ridley Scott thriller and not of dubious action films that followed.

This almost obsessive desire to stick to the esthetics of the 70s gives Alien: Isolation an inimitable style. A cinema filter gives the game the appearance of an old movie while videos have been recorded in VHS for more faithfulness to the visuals of the time. Lo-Fi elements intentionally contrast with the excellent graphics, with flickering light, pervasive shadows and effects of floating particles.

But as true to the original as the corridors of Sevastopol station are, they may soon become repetitive after several hours have passed crawling in the dark. Fortunately, the developers promise us that the levels are not linear and that the different areas of the station will be open so players will have plenty of hiding spaces and multiple access paths… as will the creature.

Alien: IsolationAlien: Isolation is very faithful to the aesthetics of 70’s science fiction movies

Be scared

Even without playing, the idea of Alien: Isolation is scary, but not for the right reasons. After the unspeakable horror that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, the mere idea of yet another adaptation to throw at fans of the series induces sheer terror. Fortunately, Creative Assembly has everything in place to succeed: a passionate team, meticulous and obsessed by respecting the franchise. Hopefully they’ll manage to emancipate the original material to provide a sufficiently varied experience!

View all comments
Loading comments