Alien Isolation Takes The Franchise Back To Its Beginnings As Horror
The internet was abuzz with excitement today as the trailer for a new game in the Alien franchise was released. Alien: Isolation tells the story of Amanda Ripley (daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s character in the films) and her team investigating the ruination of the Nostromo. It is set for a late 2014 release on the current and next-gen XBoxes and Playstation.
True Survival Horror
Information about the game is scant but the trailer seems to indicate that Isolation is moving away from the whole space marine fighting off hordes of aliens idea that has been popular in previous games. Alien: Isolation is slated to be more of a survival horror in which your only tools are a motion tracker and whatever items you find. Being based on the original 1979 film, you will most likely be finding flashlights, blowtorches, not pulse rifles or flamethrowers.
Isolation has a lot of work to do if Sega and Creative Assembly – known for their Total War series of games – want to win over fans. It is in the shadow of both Aliens vs. Predator and Aliens: Colonial Marines. The former was a nice idea but felt unpolished and very rough around the edges. Colonial Marines, however, was a famous flop and a game I could not wait to be over.
What is most exciting for me is the focus Creative Assembly have put on building the atmosphere. Early on, Amanda becomes separated from her team (hence “isolation”) and it does not look like she will find them before the game’s end. Or if she does, in true Alien fashion, they will most likely be mauled and eaten before long.
In Space No One Can You Scream
It may have been the tagline for the original film but in Isolation, it looks like the xenomorph will be able to not only see but hear your character as well. This creates an Amnesia-esque dichotomy in action: hide in the dark with the alien stalking you or create light, run, and have it chase you.
It is unknown as yet whether or not the motion tracker makes noise as far as the xenomorph can hear but I personally hope it does. If it does not, it seems like the player is too easily able to monitor the movements of the enemy without revealing him or herself.
Sega have stated that Alien: Isolation is hoped to be “a peer to the likes of Dead Space 2.” But they have gone a step further. A major problem with the Dead Space series is the plethora of enemies that, by the time you cut through them, are not threatening and definitely not frightening any longer.
Alien: Isolation, however, has learned from this and has one xenomorph on board the station. Yup. A single enemy in the entire game. Mind you, it stalks the player to no end and appears around every corner but a single lethal enemy is far more unnerving than one hundred weak zombies.
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What will make or break Alien: Isolation is how linear Creative Assembly have made the levels. If the game lets you roam wherever you please in an open world design and forces you to find your way with ship directory signs like the one seen at the start of the trailer then it will be all the stronger for it. Whereas, if it takes the Dead Space approach and gives you a small line to follow and no real way to deviate from it, Isolation may get very tired very fast.