Introduction: After playing a game series that I love and being let down it is nice to sit back and play another that did quite the opposite. Having been disappointed previously by Alien: Colonial Marines; it is nice to dive into a game that brings to life everything one would expect from a game based on the popular horror franchise.
Story: The Story takes place 15 years after the events of the first Alien movie. You play as Amanda Ripley daughter of Ellen Ripley who is searching for the lost flight recorder of her mother. The game starts with Samuels, a Weyland-Yutani synthetic approaching Amanda about joining him on a mission to get her mothers lost flight recorder, from when she was aboard the Nostromo. Which was recently in possession of a ship called the Anesidora and transferred to a space station called Sevastopol. Amanda then boards a ship called the Torrens to make contact with the space station. Unfortunately, the space station is having a state of emergency when they arrive and has taken some heavy damage. Amanda, Samuels and Taylor then disembark to the space station to try to recover the flight recorder, investigate, and help with the emergency on Sevastopol. On Sevastopol, the crew finds the station in much worse shape than expected and practically falling apart with humans, some of which are hostile and paranoid due to mysterious deaths and disappearances. After a short amount of time aboard the space station, Amanda encounters the alien, which first kills an acquaintance and then proceeds to stalk her through the rest of her stay on the station. As Amanda journeys from different parts of the space station in search of the flight recorder, a way to contact her ship and other objectives, Amanda encounters the stations series of Androids called the Working Joe. Which start off harmless, but eventually start turning hostile due to the lockdown aboard the station. As the story progresses this is explained in better detail as to why the synthetics are hostile, but can leave players confused as to why some of the androids are hostile and others are not for a small portion of the game. This also helps drive the player in the exploration of Sevastopol, as well as collecting the different audio logs and recordings in order to investigate the incident. As well as events, leading up to Amanda’s arrival on Sevastopol, as a lot of information and intriguing events transpired leading up to current events. Overall, the story is well driven and paced in pushing players to explore Sevastopol as well as finding a way to deal with the threats including the alien.
Controls: The Controls have four different styles that are locked in place default, alternate and Left-handed version of the default and alternate control scheme. The controls are very smooth and easy to get used to and navigate the menus and inventory options.
Game Play: The game play is typical of a first person survival horror game; where you have some first person shooter elements and hub screen as well as objects, in which you can interact with to hide from various enemies. The game plays very stealth based, as you will find yourself hiding in lockers, storage cabinets, under/behind desks, trolleys even debris at times. Regardless of difficulty, the alien will always instantly kill the player if it sees you or grabs you from a ventilation shaft above the player. The key things to look out for with the alien is the ceiling vents, and if you hear banging in the vents nearby. Ceiling vents that are safe will not have anything dripping from them, but if you see what looks like water drops that is actually the alien ready to ambush/kill anyone who gets within range. From time to time if the player has been in an area for long or makes any loud noise, the alien will drop into a nearby room and start hunting the player. The AI for the alien is actually quite intelligent especially on harder difficulties as it will frequently start sniffing the air and patrolling around areas that are very close to the player always making line of sight and seeing the player if the player does not move around/hide well. As for fending off the alien, if it sees either the player or you need some breathing room, there is only one thing the alien is actually afraid of and that is fire. Creating molotov’s as well as using the flamethrower you can fend off/scare away the alien. However, you have to be very careful with this as the game does not give you much ammo/crafting materials for this to be effective. Also if you are playing on hard or nightmare difficulty like I was for my first play through the more you use molotov’s or the flamethrower against the alien the more resistant he becomes to it, as in you will need more ammo to successfully scare off the alien.
As you progress through the game you will encounter three other enemies outside of the alien of which two are not always hostile which are Humans and Synthetics. In order to tell if humans are hostile or not you can always hide nearby, then listen to the conversations between them, or look to see if they have weapons armed and ready. For hostile humans I found a good part of the time in the game the easiest and most effective, but also dangerous way to get through an area and not have to worry was to purposely attract the alien and have it hunt me. This caused the alien to patrol the rooms nearby and proceed to kill/eat every human it sees. This is totally up to the player on how they want to approach a situation as you can hide/avoid all conflict with humans, which may be much easier than being hunted by the alien for the next 5-10 minutes.
The next type of enemy is the Synthetics that you will regularly come across. The coloring of the Synthetics eyes will let you know whether it has been programmed to be hostile or not. White is non-aggressive while red/orange means hostile. Synthetics are one of the few enemies you want to save some ammo for as they take quite a bit to kill/take down and areas with large groups of them usually do not have the alien anywhere nearby. However, sometimes this is not the case and it is easier just to avoid or outrun them, because as soon as you fire a shot if the alien is nearby you will need to be ready to hide.
Lastly, there are alien face huggers; probably the creepiest version of the alien and you will know when one is nearby by either enclosed alien eggs, or the high-pitched squeal it makes when it notices the player. Face huggers are easy to kill as any weapon in the game will instantly kill one, however there will usually be an alien nearby so it is up to the player to exercise caution in how to deal with the threat.
As the player progresses through the game, they will come across dead bodies and occasionally nearby will be a weapon that they can use for the remainder of the game. Each weapon has a use and some are much more useful than others depending on the threat. The weapons you will come across are the maintenance jack, stun baton, revolver, shotgun, flamethrower, and the bolt gun. Some are more useful than others are, and the player will have to test and learn which is best for each situation throughout the game. From time to time, the player will also come across item schematics, which you can use the various scrap and salvaged materials you come across to create the item of that schematic. These items consist of med kits, flares, flash bangs, smoke bombs, noisemakers, molotov’s, and pipe bombs. Out of the various items, the most useful was flares and noisemakers, due to using them as distractions for the various enemies you come across in the game. There are also two non-craft able items you will come across early on in the game, one of which is the flashlight, which can be useful at times, but other times alert enemies to your current position and is not worth using. The other is the motion tracker, this is your best friend at times as it lets you know the position of enemies in a radius in front of you that are relatively nearby, and is helpful for avoiding enemies when you are blind to other rooms around you. Exercise caution though, if you are very close to an enemy they will hear your motion detector and investigate.
Graphics/Music: The Graphics for this game are very realistic and detailed for the environments, NPC’s and the cinematics. Even the dead bodies all had different wounds that were well detailed depending on how they were killed. The game ran incredibly smooth on the PS4 with little to no graphical glitches 99% of the time; I did however encounter two glitches during my multiple play throughs of the game. These glitches were both in the death animation of an enemy where an enemy’s weapon did not fall to the floor, but this was incredibly rare. The music score was also very well done, and suitable for this game it felt eerie enough at times, and helped fuel the tension in the different situations throughout the game.
Recommendation: If you are a survival horror fan, pick up this game as it is amazing and one of the best survival horror games of the past few years. Everything from game play, atmosphere and even the tension is well crafted. This game will keep you on your toes and experimenting with every different situation throughout the game.
Conclusion: In conclusion Alien: Isolation is the game that fans of the movie Alien have always wanted, this is a true survival horror game in the vein of the classic horror movie. With being well polished with a great story and game play, this is one game that leaves a horror fan in anticipation for what will come next.
Author: Guest Reviewer, Shawn Campbell