Alien: Isolation (PlayStation 4)
Science fiction classic gets revisited in Sega’s latest game.
- Captures the film’s look and feel.
- Gameplay that rewards patience.
- Can be difficult at times.
- AI can be a bit unpredictable.
There have been many games based on the Alien franchise over the years, but Alien: Isolation is one of the few that actually gets it right.
Price$ 84.00 (AUD)
1979’s Alien film by Ridley Scott is often considered the pinnacle of science fiction cinema. Several games have attempted to replicate the claustrophobia and terror of being hunted by an extra-terrestrial predator in space, though few have succeeded. Alien: Isolation aims to not only reintroduce the player to the roots of the franchise, but also remind them of the original film's terrifying premise.
The search for Ripley
Alien: Isolation features a new story set on a decommissioned space station, Sevastopol. You play as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley, who was the only survivor with the deadly encounter with a Xenomorph in the original film. As Amanda, you are searching for information about Ellen and the location of her space ship, Nostromo.
Like the Nostromo, Sevastopol has fallen victim to a Xenomorph. The game starts off with Amanda tasked with restoring power to the station and bring the security systems online again. It’s not an easy task, as the threat of instant death at the hands of the Xenomorph looms at every corner.
Helping you in your navigation of the space station is a motion tracker, which like in the films, displays surrounding movement and beeps when something nears. The Xenomorph never stays still or in the same place, so you have to constantly be on your toes and think twice about turning on a flashlight or venturing into a vent. You will die a lot in the process, and even when you restart the Xenomorph is likely to be in a different place than before.
When you are not busy hacking into electronic doors in order to access new areas, you have the opportunity to build handheld tools to raise your chances of survival. There are offensive weapons such as guns and flamethrowers to help even the odds, though they are more likely to agitate the Xenomorph than subdue it. Instead, passive tools such as noisemakers and smoke bombs can distract the alien enough for you to make a temporary escape.
Tough to stay alive
A lot of effort has been put into making Alien: Isolation feel authentic to the film it is based on. The 70’s design aesthetics of the film have been faithfully recreated, down to the boxy terminals and analogue monitors. The music score also channels the foreboding mood of the film, and it changes in tone depending on whether the Xenomorph is close or upon you.
Although the Xenomorph demonstrates chilling intelligence, the same can not always be said about the human characters encountered on the Sevastopol. There is a lot of paranoia among the station’s crew due to the presence of the alien, which means they are often hostile to your presence. This means there is a tendency for them to shoot first even when they spot you from far away, which can sometimes be frustrating.
The high difficulty of the game also requires the player to be patient, as progress can only be saved manually at emergency telephones spread out through levels. The slow pace of the gameplay, and well as the methodical approach required for exploration, can mean the next checkpoint is a long way away. Getting killed by the Xenomorph could mean redoing large sections of a level.
The attraction of Alien: Isolation lies in its connection with the film franchise, and the development team has made sure the game remains faithful to the well-known property. While the story is compelling at first, it tends to drag on a bit with several subplots and a large cast of minor characters. Even so, Alien: Isolation is a compelling experience that is bound to satisfy fans of the film.
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