Alien: Isolation Review

Surviving the terror in space

“The western press said it was horrifying, tense, and almost unbearable. Domestic critics added that it was a revolutionary work, the best adventure of recent years. The gaming press shouted in unison, ‘Complex and hardcore, with the smartest enemies in video games!’ With such slogans, even the laziest person couldn’t help but be interested in Alien: Isolation, the first project in the prestigious universe that aimed to combine the canon of the original film with full-fledged gameplay.

To be honest, there was fear about the game. Not only could the British from Creative Assembly not connect two words outside of their native Total War, but the source material had also resisted quality game adaptation for many years. But bold promises flowed like a river and were confirmed by enthusiastic reviews from overly impressionable journalists. In the end, we got Isolation, but the scariest and most revolutionary game was missing.

Fifteen years have passed since the infamous events aboard the ‘Nostromo.’ Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the main protagonist of the first film, does not lose hope of finding out her mother’s fate. Her search leads her to the ‘Sevastopol,’ a semi-abandoned space station that is sending distress signals. It can already be guessed that the empty interiors of the station are a new stage for repeating the old story.”

The deplorable state of the station makes itself felt, among other things, through such explosions: A space station in chaos

The deplorable condition of the station makes itself known, among other things, through such explosions.

The environment itself becomes the first reason for delight. “Sevastopol” faithfully replicates the design delights of the 1979 film, immersing us in a world of flickering lamps, oversized noisy consoles, and CRT monitors. Supported by masterful play of light and shadow, this stylistic choice looks very original. Fans of holograms and other overused sensors have something to learn from it.

In addition to this, Alien: Isolation sounds great. Abandoned terminals persistently beep to remind you of their presence, damaged pipes hiss aggressively, and the sounds of machinery can be heard from the technical compartments – an improvised mechanical orchestra never leaves you in complete silence. The eerie atmosphere is set instantly, filling the room with the atmosphere of the abandoned station, and the captivated player slowly moves towards the mystery.

Suddenly, footsteps can be heard behind the nearest door.

The illusion of solitude soon unfolds after the beginning, revealing the harsh life of “Sevastopol”. The abandonment of the facility has led to the small local population forming tight groups, fighting for survival. Amanda is not destined to make friends with most of them, so expect desperate gunfire coming your way. A couple of hits – and it’s the end for Ripley.

Facing the iconic Xenomorph

Shooting, unfortunately or fortunately, is not only a skill possessed by the station’s inhabitants. Sneaking past a couple of foolish patrols, you will undoubtedly find a revolver – there’s no need to explain how eagerly dead enemies will fall at your feet. Forced stealth turns into a dubious shooter. Not at all scary, if that is still not clear.

“You should not be here,” an unnatural voice sounds at the end of the corridor. A human figure with glowing eyes slowly approaches the player. Those familiar with the subject will immediately guess that it is an android, the technical staff of “Sevastopol”. Simple bullets won’t take him down, and in hand-to-hand combat, the synthetic easily fights back. “Some kind of horror!” cry frightened journalists, although no one gave them a reason.

The peculiarity of artificial humans is that they walk insanely slowly, and it is easier than easy to escape from them. In addition, Ripley Jr. is trained to craft various gadgets and devices from scrap, capable of distracting electronic workers and completely disabling them with an EMP discharge. In short, they are no match for us.

And now, the highlight of the program enters the stage.

A deadly extraterrestrial

The alien appears exactly when the rules of the game become familiar. No, not to turn them upside down, but to make their own adjustments. The canon of Ridley Scott’s film makes itself known, and this time you won’t get away with any gadgets – now you are the victim. With certain reservations.

Each encounter with the xenomorph really forces the player to be more careful and finally use the scattered lockers as intended. And yes, it’s truly interesting. The extraterrestrial creature reacts to any noise and immediately rushes to investigate. If you happen to be nearby or become the source of the sound at that moment – you’re in trouble.

Detecting danger in space

But if you were unlucky enough to fall for the loud words of critics, then it’s a real problem. The opinions formed during a brief acquaintance with the project, to put it mildly, do not correspond to the truth. A couple of hours is obviously not enough to thoroughly analyze the gameplay structure – hence the erroneous conclusions along with false hopes.

Remember those speeches about the unpredictable behavior of the alien and the incredible difficulty of episodes involving it? Forget it. Perhaps the intelligence of the Alien exceeds someone’s editorial indicators, but that does not mean that it will not wander around the level in confusion and give you a chance.

First of all, even at a high level of difficulty, its habits are easy to predict because despite the lack of scripts, there are several options for behavior patterns that alternate when the level is reloaded. If you encounter it two or three times, the algorithm is solved. Even if the scoundrel suddenly deviates from the usual route, you can track it simply by sound: the Alien stomps louder than the neighbor’s children, so you will always know if it’s walking around the corner or crawling on the ceiling.

Such proximity with a stranger means only one thing - death: Perilous encounters in the dark

Such closeness with the Other means only one thing – death.

Secondly, it is not uncommon for a smart person to quietly come up behind you and walk through the entire corridor unnoticed. Here, it seems, no comments are needed.

Thirdly, when the difficulty really arises, the ultimate solution to all problems appears – a flamethrower. It is perhaps the most frustrating oversight by the developers, as the Alien is terrified of it. A single spray is enough to make the invincible hunter tuck its tail and disappear into the nearest ventilation. Considering the total imbalance of the player’s ammunition and crafting ingredients, one can confidently come out from under the table and go about their business, occasionally driving away the bewildered xenomorph.

What horrors and difficulties were being discussed with all these factors, is completely unclear.

The last big nuisance that Alien: Isolation throws at you is the length of the plot. Being not very expressive and largely trivial, the story manages to take up twenty hours of rushed gameplay. The completely unnecessary middle part futilely juggles all possible combinations of enemies, trying to make the player’s life more difficult, but ultimately just falls into repetition and tiresome. There is always a solution to all difficulties, and the former excitement is replaced by boredom, forcing you to rush towards the next lever and/or button. Nevertheless, enduring the hardships of irrational game design is worth it for the final hour.

Mechanical threats in space

Without bugs, of course, it didn’t go either. The in-house engine constantly malfunctions, closing off plot passages and messing with the sound. Don’t be surprised, for example, that after another loading, Amanda’s footsteps will drown out all the other noise – you just have to accept such things.

Even with pockets full of flaws and shortcomings, Alien: Isolation turned out well. There has never been a better and more careful statement on the given topic in the gaming industry. And even though hiding from the Alien here for some reason doesn’t scare, and the plot inexplicably lasts twice as long as it should – it’s still incredibly interesting. In any case, you will hold your breath waiting for the appearance of the xenomorph and nervously press yourself into corners, trying not to give yourself away. It is extremely difficult not to appreciate the colossal work of Creative Assembly in adapting the cult film and not to admire the dense atmosphere, crawling between the couches.

Alien: Isolation
PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
The Creative Assembly
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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