'Alien: Isolation' Terrifies A Whole New Generation

October 13, 2014

In 1979, Ridley Scott changed the face of science-fiction movies with the release of Alien. His movie was a new blend of horror and sci-fi that the world had never seen before, and it left a lasting impression, both on fans, and cinema as a whole. Since then, creators from all forms of media have been trying to recreate the same dark and eerie atmosphere that Ellen Ripley had to endure as she battled one of the most terrifying on-screen creatures ever created, The Alien. Sadly, aside from a couple of the movie's sequels, most attempts have failed at terrifying their audiences, especially in the video game arena. Alien: Isolation is Sega's latest entry into this decades old franchise, and it's the first one in a long time to be worthy of the name.

Developer: The Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega

In a fortunate turn of events, The Creative Assembly was granted the opportunity to take on Alien: Isolation, a game that would traditionally be well outside of their wheelhouse. The studio is likely best known for their work on Sega's Total War series, a strategy-based franchise that they have been working on since 2000. While Isolation does require quite a bit of strategy to survive, it's a complete departure from the typical mechanics of the Total War games. Sega may have gambled a bit with The Creative Assembly taking the reigns on a different type of game than they typically make, but it seems to have paid off with them creating one of the most immersive and frightening Alien games ever released.

15 years after the horrific events aboard the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda, is sent on a mission to Sevastopol Station to recover a flight recorder from her mother's ship. Once aboard Sevastopol, it's clear that something has gone horribly wrong, and Amanda quickly gets caught up in it, while trying to fight for her life.It's not long before Amanda comes face to face with the same terror that her mom endured, over a decade earlier.

If you're familiar with the gameplay of most of the other recent Alien games, then you're in for a little bit of a surprise with Isolation. While the last few games in the series have focused on big battles with the Xenomorphs, Isolation takes a more subtle route, making it more akin to a first-person survival horror game. There aren't a lot of big battles, but there is a lot of hiding in closets and air ducts. There aren't a lot of guns, but they can't hurt the Alien anyway, and ammo is at a premium. The game puts more of an emphasis on stealth survival, than on your ability to score a headshot, and that's what separates it from other games in the franchise.

Be on the lookout for Amanda Ripley and Alien: Isolation on PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, as well as your Windows PC. As dark and frightening as it is, the game looks beautiful, so you probably want to grab it on one of the newer consoles for the best experience. Also, if you happen to have a PS4 or an Xbox One, Isolation can use each system's respective cameras for head-tracking that corresponds to laning around corners, as well as detection of any loud sounds that happen in your room, and have the in-game Alien react accordingly.

In the past, video games haven't been the best platform for the Alien series, but Isolation does an amazing job of changing all of that. Instead of giving players an arsenal of weapons, or turning them into some other unearthly being (like in the Alien vs. Predator games), Isolation actually returns the games to the movies' roots, relying more on atmosphere than set piece action sequences. In terms of sheer on-screen terror, Amanda Ripley's harrowing hours aboard Sevastopol Station rival only her mother's aboard the Nostromo, with Isolation feeling more intense than the movies, since the player is in control. The Creative Assembly have gone out of their way to create an intense experience that is actually worthy of the Alien moniker. Their time and attention to the details that evoke the same kind of feelings as the original movie shine through from the second that you turn the game on, to the first time you see the Alien, right up through the last moments of Amanda Ripley's journey. If you're an Alien fan, then Isolation should get added to your stack, as it carves some new territory for the franchise, while making up for some of the series' past missteps in the world of video games.