I still remember the moment I first saw the Xenomorph making its first attack in Alien (the movie), while Jonesy the cat was hiding in the shadows. Born was the moment that I fell in love with the franchise. That also meant I got burned many times by horrible movie sequels (Alien resurrection) and horrific games (Colonial Marines). So when people were raving about the first play tests of Alien: Isolation, I was a bit hesitant to believe them. I took the risk of per-ordering and when it came out in 2014, it delivered on its promise of being a proper alien game. I loved it! It scared me, gave me that nostalgic first alien movie feeling and I loved the graphics.
A few weeks ago I was incredibly bored and wondered what to stream on Twitch. Alien: Isolation was on sale with Steam and I saw an increase in people streaming it. I realized that I couldn’t really remember a lot from the game, only certain bits, which was enough reason for me to revisit it and boy, it has been a blast, again!
Now that I was streaming on Twitch it was nice to have people in the stream helping me or coercing me into making that leap from one room to the other trying to avoid the Xenomorph. I am sure they found it hilarious every time I screamed when I got jumped out of nowhere by the monster or when I got creative with swear words when yet another android wanted to strangle me to death.
For those who have seen the first and second alien movie, this game takes place in between those. You play Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter who is trying to find out what happened to her mother in the first movie. She is trying to retrieve the flight recorder from a space station, but of course it wasn’t just the flight recorder that was brought to the station. Soon you will have to sneak your way through rooms, avoiding hostile humans, androids and of course the Alien. If you think the vents are a safe place to avoid humans or androids, you will still have to make sure that you are actually alone in there and not being sneaked up on by a big monster with two mouths….
Game play and nostalgia
The controls are easy enough and the game is pretty good with guiding you how to use certain objects in the game. The sound of the machinery and computers teleport me right back to the first movie and the music is just amazing. Sometimes you will have to use your wits to solve the puzzles on the computers to get access (hacking) and you will have to be clever about sneaking and using flares or noise makers to get out of some sticky situations. I often was hiding in lockers and under desks while I saw the alien trying to sniff me out, Amanda holding her breath, but so was I. When a game can immerse you like that, I feel they did a good thing.
Is it a flawless game? Unfortunately, it isn’t. People in my stream have often witnessed me raging about the map and how unclear it is where you need to go. Your tracker shows you the direction, but the maps make no sense at times. Especially if the map is spread over different levels and I have ran back and forth between the same rooms several times, sometimes triggering events I shouldn’t have, causing the game to be a lot harder for myself.
Some of the ‘missions’ are incredibly stupid and will boil down to; get this object we need at this time, but actually won’t need after all, in this area with lots of hostile enemies and once you are back, we are sending you to the same area yet again. It gives you a lot of feeling of dejavu and there were times I seriously wondered why the NPC’s didn’t go do it themselves instead of sacrificing me for their dumb ideas.
As said before; the immersion is amazing and really makes you feel that you are in the movie franchise. The AI is very smart and you can challenge yourself even more by choosing harder settings for the game play and you will have to be creative with your ‘weapons’ to survive certain rooms.
But the most amazing thing is seeing and hearing the actual Xenomorph itself. When you hear it hissing as it drops from a vent, giving you the warning to hide, seeing the tail just linger by the desk you are hiding under, it is pure terror at times. It might have been released for a few years now, it still holds up with the games that released this year. Do yourself a favor and get this on pc or console. You won’t regret it!
My final tip? The motion tracker is a life saver, but don’t use it too often. You’re not the only one hearing those beeps…..