Developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega in 2014, Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival horror game that is considered a classic by many who’ve played it.
Alien: Isolation is set fifteen years after the events of the first Alien film and you play as Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who learns that the flight recorder from her mother’s ship (The Nostromo) has been found and is being held aboard Sevastopol, a Seegson Corporation space station orbiting gas giant KG-348 in the Zeta Reticuli star system, so she sets off to find out what happened. And of course along the way she encounters a xenomorph which is prowling the station.
It takes a little while to reach the part of the story where the alien appears, but this gives you time to take in the amazing environments and get used to the game’s various mechanics, like hacking and item crafting, both of which are vital gameplay elements (and also both of which are well thought-out and interesting in their own right). The tension, as you begin to explore, is ratcheted up more and more as you explore the Sevastopol and you first encounter hostile humans, who want you dead, before you meet the alien.
When you do eventually encounter the xenomorph the tension hits the roof and you must do everything you can to avoid running into it. Crawling around and hiding being two primary methods of avoiding detection. The alien has its own AI and will hunt around for you and use its senses to detect you, so you’ve got to be smart about where you go and what you do. You can crawl into ducts and hide in lockers if you need to, then listen out to decide when the coast is clear. Using anything that makes a sound (which includes weapons) will attract the creature, and the game warns you that you do this “at your own risk“. With the alien acting on its own volition this does make the game different every time you play it, which greatly adds to the replay value.
Alien: Isolation‘s visual style is pretty phenomenal, with technology, space suit, and environment designs that echo the first film. They have that 1970s sci-fi look and feel and are lit beautifully by the game’s engine. The sound effects and music are brilliant too. Jerry Goldsmith‘s music from the first Alien is referenced throughout, as are the sound effects from Ridley Scott‘s film. Combined, the music and sound effects create an incredibly scary atmosphere.
Although Alien: Isolation may look like a first-person shooter at times, it’s much more tactical than that. You can of course shoot guns (when you find them), but they’re mostly used to deal with rogue humans and ‘Working Joes’ (robots that patrol parts of the Sevastopol), than shoot the alien, because actually shooting the alien is a fruitless exercise.
I’m guessing that most people who want to play Alien: Isolation will have already played it – it was a significant hit when it was first released in 2014 – but there will still be people out there who haven’t yet experienced it, and I would have to say that it is a must-play game. It’s a masterpiece of survival horror and arguably the best video game based on the Alien franchise to date.
Several downloadable content packs were released for Alien: Isolation, some of which relive scenes from the original film. The game is available for PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox One, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.