Earlier this week, Gamefly was kind enough to drop off Alien: Isolation in my mailbox and I have to say it’s been a crazy trek down nostalgia lane. Not crazy in terms of being over-the-top or unexpected, in fact quite the opposite. Alien: Isolation shines in its subtlety – successfully adding layer upon layer of suspense in its most primal state, hinging on the small chance that you might survive against things much stronger than you.
And what does it take to survive a space station full of rogue androids, gun-toting passengers, and the iconic Xenomorph hunting you at every turn? Patience. No seriously, a ton of patience. I don’t even know why the game even gives players the option to sprint, if you run, the Alien will kill you. If you shoot, the Alien will kill you. If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Alien will kill you.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a veteran player in the horror and stealth genres, but man that thing ended my life more times than I’d like to admit – impaled through the stomach by its blade-like tail, plucked from the ground and dragged away through a vent, ripped apart with its protruding second set of teeth, just to name a few. Remain crouched, always have the flame thrower equipped (when you find it), and use the motion tracker very frequently and you’ll be…”fine”. I had to learn many of those lessons the hard way.
That of course just leaves murderous Working Joe androids, face-hugging alien larvae, and other human survivors to deal with, but if you can outmaneuver the ultimate hunter, these other guys are child’s play. While I’m on the topic of androids, let me say that I love these guys. Arguably creepy looking, you know you’re dealing with a hostile Working Joe if their usual blue eyes have taken on a glowing red hue, and that’s when the fun begins.
These guys hunt you down Terminator style, moving at a single walking pace with the sole intent of killing any human in site. Of course, the Alien completely ignores the androids and vice versa, why wouldn’t they be working together to kill you? While on the prowl, they also spout some pretty amusing one-liners such as, “Running can be dangerous” when they’re chasing you and, “Shame, this one is beyond repair” while viewing a dead body. A little tension-breaking comedy is always a welcome addition to any horror experience.
After three days of sauntering slowly around the Sevastapol Space Station, looting things, hacking terminals with strange minigames, and holding back the urge to shoot the Creature in the face, I led Amanda Ripley to some semblance of safety and completed the game. Unlike most video game conclusions, beating Alien: Isolation doesn’t leave you with that feel-good moment from besting the last boss or saving the universe for example; the reward for completing a game like this is getting through it, surviving and finally being able to exhale after a long anxiety-filled journey.
As a huge fan of the series (thanks mom), I am beyond thrilled that a video game has finally scratched the surface of what the original Alien film was truly about: suspense, survival, and horror. I thoroughly enjoyed this difficult and sometimes punishing game, and I would recommend Alien: Isolation to not only franchise enthusiasts but those looking to experience a faithful and rewarding take on a cultural classic.
Next up on my gaming list, I’ll be playing Dust: An Elysian Tail and The Evil Within on PS4 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on PS3. Stay tuned for my playthrough impressions and random pictures soon.
All images were taken by me on the PS4 during gameplay with PS4 Share feature.