From the start of Alien: Isolation, I felt like I was entering a new Alien franchise film. The graphics are truly amazing, making fully use of the next gen platform, from hair, sweat, and blood, to smoke, fire, and shadow effects, this game promises to bring space survival horror games to a new level. From the intro credits with the 20th Century Fox movie-like start up and theme music, to the opening of the game where Ellen Ripley dictates the final log of the Nostromo, this game is steeped in the cinematic and plays just like a movie. I love that.
Developed by The Creative Assembly and distributed by Sega, this game follows the continuing storyline of the Alien franchise films. The premise of Alien: Isolation is that you play as Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, 15 years after the events of the first film, Alien. You are recruited to go on a mission to retrieve the flight recorder from the Nostromo that was found at the Sevastopol space station. The action begins as you wake from cryo-sleep and get dressed. You can even step in and take a shower, if you want. Wandering the limited space of the Torrens, the ship that you are on taking you to Sevastopol, gives you a chance to get used to the basic controls of your character, collect some items, and talk to a few of the other folks on the ship.
The fun really starts then the ship approaches the station and you see the wreck that it has become. Even the drydock has been destroyed, so you will have to EVA to the station. There is no player control at this point, but still a very tense situation and some great action.
Entering the station, it is very dark and most of it is in disrepair or deliberately vandalized. You can explore everything, but there is still a fairly linear path to follow. There is not a lot of pressure at the beginning, although the what really makes things ominous is the lack of a solid soundtrack. The use of ambient noise is really cool, but just increases the tension as I was waiting for something to jump out at me the whole time. There is music in the scripted scenes and this flows really well with the rest of the game.
I loved the textures and light animation in this game. The normal space of the station was transformed into a scary funhouse by the casting of shadows, sparks, and flickering lights. This adds a great level to the atmosphere of a space survival horror game.
Gameplay includes the ability to create different items that you need, like medkits. I had to use one after I inadvertently ran into a sparking wire and lost a chunk of health. Realistic interaction with the environment makes for a cool adventure. And the people that you meet… Remember, the xenomorph is not the only enemy.
And then there is the true star of this show, the alien xenomorph. This creature is very well animated, although it could have been a little slimier. If you are not fast enough jumping into the tram, as I was not, you get a nice big kiss from the monster. Of course, at least on the Xbox One, you get an achievement for meeting the xenomorph for the first time. Fun stuff with that think on top of you and the inner little monster mouth shooting out to kill you… great final shot.
One of the coolest interaction in this game is the use of the Kinect sensor. As you are hiding behind things, the Kinect will watch your head and allow you to lean out and look around. Also, if you select to use this feature at the beginning of the game, the Kinect will listen for sounds in your play area and, if they are too loud, your enemies can hear them and will be alerted to your presence. No more yelling at the screen.
Another cool feature, because I preordered the game, was that I got an additional adventure called Crew: Expendable. I have not played through this yet, but it will allow you to play as the crew of the Nostromo in the final scenes of Alien. All around a fun scary game and exactly what I expected to have for an awesome expansion of the Alien franchise.
My Rating: 4.5/5