Ridley Scott’s Alien was not the first movie to feature a dangerous extraterrestrial, but it was arguably the scariest and most emotionally disturbing film by the time it arrived in theaters. The 1979 horror masterpiece terrorized audiences with its drooling protagonist lurking in the darkness. It also launched a successful movie franchise while propelling actress Sigourney Weaver (playing heroine Ellen Ripley) into the spotlight. Then James Cameron brought Aliens to the big screen in 1986 and the sci-fi world exploded. The same horrifying creatures matched up against space marines carrying heavy firepower. It became an instant classic.
Seeing dollar signs, the video game industry attempted to cash in with a number of Alien titles and later, Alien vs Predator adventures. Some were better than others, and we received a great one this year in the form of Alien: Isolation from Sega and Creative Assembly.
Instead of capturing the intensity of Aliens, the developers chose to focus on the horror from the original movie, and did so brilliantly. Playing as Ellen’s daughter, Amanda, players explore the creepy Sevastopol Station while trying to outwit a single Alien and a horde of creepy androids. This would be much easier if the game’s weapons were effective, but this is not the case. All the flamethrower does is deter the creature, while gamers will likely waste shotgun and pistol rounds on those pesky synthetics. The idea is sneak around and distract one’s foes with noise makers and flash grenades, a big departure from the rocket launchers, machine guns and high body counts we’ve grown accustomed to.
Even more troubling is the Alien’s behavior, which is often hard to predict. While the monster will often appear close-by, the slightest noise will draw its attention, and once that happens Amanda’s dead. Thankfully, you can set up the human survivors so the Alien turns its attention on these hopeless souls, but you have seconds at best to escape.
Admittedly this leads to much trial and error, along with plenty of frustration, but it’s hard to deny Isolation’s appeal, especially if you’re an Alien fan. Sevastopol closely resembles the doomed Nostromo from the movie, complete with pneumatic doors, air ducts and medical bays. Every little sound makes us jump and quickly look over our shoulders expecting the worst. You’re constantly on edge.
Some players won’t like that idea, which is perfectly fine. It takes a certain type of gamer to withstand such constant punishment, but the stress is worth it, if only to experience a game that is a wonderful homage to one of the most influential movies in history.
That said, Isolation is long and you may need a little help making it out alive. If so, we published a free step-by-step Alien: Isolation walkthrough that’ll get you through the toughest spots. In addition, we’ll teach you how to avoid the Alien while on the hunt for the game’s collectibles, most notably the 10 Nostromo Logs and 50 ID tags.