Let’s get this out of the way early – Alien Isolation is LEGIT.
If you were at San Diego Comic Con over the weekend, you might have seen a large egg drawing gamers to it like moths to a flame. This indeed was an Xenomorph egg, the same one used by Alien Queens to birth their offspring and now used by developer The Creative Assembly to introduce eager fans to their upcoming title, Alien Isolation.
Standing in line waiting for our turn, we were quickly briefed by booth workers about the game, shown a quick laminated sheet displaying the PS4 controls and given some last minute tips on the 3 minute demo we were about to play.
Essentially we were told to:
- Get the flamethrower
- Get out of the first room quickly
- And use the motion tracker…
If you are just hearing about Alien Isolation the story goes like this: Set some 15 years after the events of Alien, Amanda Ripley has gone to the space station Sevastopol to look for clues about the disappearance of her mother (the protagonist of the Alien movies) Ellen Ripley. And while that’s certainly intriguing for fans of the movies, here are a few words from the developer for gamers who can’t forget the universally panned Aliens: Colonial Marines:
We wanted to create a game that recaptured that original experience.
We wanted to make the Alien scary again.
For what seems like an eternity, you can only see a solitary dot on the screen. A dot like the one might see on some sort of low tech hand held radar… You look at the dot. You fixate on the dot. Truthfully you begin to wonder if the dot is even there. And then a narrator suddenly speaks up and explains to you how to use your motion tracker – Showing it on screen in visuals that look so similar to the original movie that you wonder if they have a hidden VCR somewhere on the show floor. And then, just like that, the game begins.
Finding yourself in the middle of a room on the space station, you are immediately struck with how alone you are. There is no crew. There is no music. There is just you… And it.
Daunted but undeterred, I remembered what I was instructed to do – Get the flamethrower. Looking around I found it near the door to leave the first room so I picked it up, opened the door and felt like I was off to a good start. The next area was much bigger but with tight corridors and adjoining rooms so I took it slowly. Cautiously, I brought up my motion tracker and didn’t see anything so I continued forward carefully to a secondary room.
Strafing against the wall while looking around and checking the ceilings, I nervously made my way through. It was at this point that I wished I could hear something else besides my footsteps and breathing. It could have been anything – A human, a robot, a dog… Just something that might untwist the knot in my stomach that was slowly tightening as I turned against the wall and made my way for the doorway.
As I passed through it, I stopped as I thought the room I was in now in looked a lot like a room I had started from whence I started. Looking around quickly, I ran back to the entrance door and confirmed that this was indeed the area I stepped into after getting the flamethrower. Quickly I turn around with my motion tracker in hand and in an instant I see it, bobble the controller, and let out an audible gasp as the Alien has already killed me.
Never saw it coming.