Survival horror fans braved Outlast and barely made it through the infamous P.T. demo with their nerves intact. Now it’s time to increase the scares even further with Alien: Isolation, arguably the most intense game to come from Sega since Condemned: Criminal Origins and its creepier sequel.
Developed by Creative Assembly, Isolation gives a nod to Ridley Scott’s iconic 1979 fright fest, Alien. You don’t combat swarms of extraterrestrials with a fully loaded pulse rifle, similar to James Cameron’s Aliens. Instead, you match wits with a single creature that literally appears out of nowhere, and maybe you have a flamethrower that’ll deter (note we did not say the word kill) the monster. Essentially, you’ll spend hours hiding inside of lockers too petrified to leave, staring through the slits and at the crude motion tracker that tells you when the Alien is close. Quite frankly, it’s rare to experience this sort of frenzied tension in a video game.
With that out of the way, we’re huge Alien fans, to the point where the goal is the get into the proper mindset to play Alien: Isolation. We cannot wait to explore this gorgeous world, and quite frankly, squeal like little pigs while getting virtually slaughtered by the ultimate killing machine. That said, here are a few ways to immerse yourself in all things Alien.
Watch the 1979 Alien film
There’s a good chance (it’s tough for us to even type the rest of this sentence) that you never saw the original Alien movie starring Sigourney Weaver as heroine/full-time butt kicker Ellen Ripley. Maybe you grew up with Alien 3, Alien Resurrection and those AvP flicks. If that’s the case or it’s been a while, make watching Alien a top priority. It redefined the sci-fi genre with a ruthless antagonist the likes of which moviegoers hadn’t seen. Perhaps most importantly, it and Aliens (also required viewing) set the proverbial stage for Alien: Isolation.
In the game, Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda (who we know lived to an old age because of a deleted scene from Aliens) goes in search of her mother and winds up on Sevastopol Station, where she encounters one of the same creatures that terrorized the crew of the ill-fated Nostromo ship in Alien. In watching the movie, you’ll learn about the creature’s biology and possible ways to avoid it.
Beyond that, and if you pre-order the game, you’ll receive exclusive content in the form of the Last Survivor DLC, which casts you as Ellen Ripley as she attempts to flee aboard the Nostromo’s escape craft, the Narcissus. Sega was able to not only get Sigourney to reprise her role as Ripley, but also fellow cast members Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett) and Yaphet Kotto (Parker). Incredible.
Hardcore Alien fans should pick up the Alien Anthology box set on DVD or Blu-ray. You receive all of the core Alien films and a delightfully overwhelming amount of bonus content. If money is tight, Alien costs less than $13 right now on Amazon, and you get both the 1979 theatrical version and the arguably superior director’s cut with additional scenes; find out what really happened to Dallas.
Aliens is a must watch, if for nothing else than the short scene about Amanda, shared between Ellen and slimy company man Carter Burke. Beyond that, check out Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Opinions of the film vary, but you learn a bit more about the origins of the Alien, along with information concerning the fossilized Space Jockey the crew from the Nostromo discover in Alien. In addition, it’s one of the best-looking movies of all time, the soundtrack is superb and Michael Fassbender shines as the twisted android, David. A lot of strange things happen that’ll leave you shaking your head, but there’s plenty to like.
Play several Alien video games
Movie licensed video games don’t always deliver the same experiences as the films they’re based upon, and this is true with the Alien franchise, just as much as it is with Lord of the Rings, James Bond or [insert movie here]. We’ll avoid mentioning the stinkers and instead recommend the following:
Aliens Infestation for Nintendo DS (compatible with 3DS and 2DS): This is a 2D side-scrolling game similar to Super Metroid and Castlevania in that you have a large world map to explore filled with secret areas. Its developers based Infestation on Aliens, with players swapping marines as they push their way further into a plagued ship. Not only did they nail the sound of the pulse rifle from the movie, but resource management and tough enemies will keep you coming back to this seriously underrated gem.
Aliens vs. Predator for Xbox 360 and PS3: Similar to many AvP games, you’re free to play as the Alien, Predator or Marine, each with unique abilities, weapons and campaigns. Not the most polished game, and you’ll quickly beat it in a couple of days, but the online horde mode that pits marines versus aliens is reason enough to come back. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with Rebellion’s Aliens versus Predator for PC that released in 1999; horrifying as the marine. You might even have some fun with the Atari Jaguar AvP video game, providing you own a Jaguar.
Alien 3 for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis: With two 16-bit consoles trading jabs throughout the 90s, publishers often released ports of the same video games for both. Alien 3, however, is a lone exception. Both games star a bald Ellen Ripley struggling to escape a male prison colony, except each title has remarkably different graphics and stages. You have to play both to receive the full experience.
Read up on Alien lore with novels and comic books
Dig a bit and you’ll discover what seems like an overwhelming number of books and comics based on the Alien mythos. There’s a lot to sift through, but start with the Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual that breaks down military equipment and encounters with the creatures on the planetoid LV-426. We’re also big fans of the Alien paperback, largely because it includes some of the deleted content from the film that Ridley Scott reinserted with the director’s cut.
If you’re into comics, Dark Horse combined some of its best and worst Alien stories into a multi-part Omnibus series; it also extends to Predator. Aliens Genocide in Omnibus Volume 2 gets two huge thumbs up.
What are your favorite Alien books, movies and video games?
Alien: Isolation is available October 7 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC.