Revisiting Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation was released back on October 7th, 2014. It tells the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, the star the Alien movies. Unlike a lot of other games made in this universe, this one focuses on survival. Being a horror stealth game, atmosphere plays a key role in setting the mood. I found myself replaying this game after three years and enjoying not only the expected moments of danger but also the times when I had no clue where the alien was.

Main game play involves a lot of stealth. Around every corner a hidden danger could be lurking. Luckily you have a motion tracker at your disposal, and its sounds help to add to the atmosphere. With the increased noise which is audible to you as well as everything nearby, it’s easy to forget that doors opening and closing are also detected by the motion tracker.  As the game unfolds, you encounter humans, synthetics and the Alien itself.  The movement and sounds of the Alien are stunning.

You quickly learn that combat is really not your hero’s strong point, but you can hold your own when pressed. Avoidance is strongly encouraged. Noise such as gun fire can and will attract your newly found alien buddy. This game of hide and seek often ends with you being pulled screaming from a vent, dragged up into the ceiling or impaled on a tail.  

Saving in this game is done at emergency points which you can access. You will be warned if enemies are near and saving is a bad idea. Some players do find the number of save points to be lower than they would like, but this adds to the feeling of hopelessness as you watch the Alien kill people and hostiles you encounter. This game, like the Alien, has no mercy. The lower difficulty however does have some AI issues still, and you will find the Alien a lot more lax in its searching for you.

During your nightmare, I mean escape, from the Alien you will find various items that can be crafted into usable things such as medi-kits. You will have access to different weapons as well, like a pistol, shotgun and stun baton. Once again I will point out that the stealth approach is more favoured, but using explosives or guns to lure away the Alien is a good idea. If you find yourself near the creature, hiding is your best bet. Out running it does not last long, but a sprint into a room to hide in a locker can sometimes save you.

You progress through the space station gaining access to new areas from key cards or hacking tools, as well as cutting your way through doors with a form of welder, at all times watching your back for the Alien. As far as the story goes, this is an immersive game. You can get lost within the story and the sheer horror that the game successfully portrays. It feels like a part of the Alien’s universe. Lighting and sounds are take almost directly out of the movies.

With the new Aliens movie coming out this year, now is a good time to revisit this stealth horror game. Turn the lights out, put on a headset and enjoy the game for what it is: An atmospheric creep around a space station, while being hunted by one of the most deadly things you could encounter.