Developer: Creative Assembly
Reviewed on: PS4
Also available on: Xbox One, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9/10
What I loved
- Proper survival game
- Masterfully created AI
- Atmospheric and tense
- Great use of source material
Not so much
- Control mechanics take a bit of getting used to
It took a few tries and some total flops, but finally we receive a Alien game worthy of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. Alien: Isolation spins-off the original narrative interestingly, and all importantly manages to recreate the tense atmosphere that anyone that watched the film will remember. No cheap tricks here either – a proper survival-horror experience.
Alien: Isolation is also filled to the brim with nostalgic bits and pieces from the film, complimented by the cinematic sequences and audio clips peppered through out the game. It’s clear Creative Assembly were committed in tying the game in authentically to its source, which will delight fans. The Sevastopol Station in which the game takes place felt familiar to me, because of this. The look and feel of it all, so authentic and so familiar, right down to the lighting and colour palettes used. The evocative graphical and sound design all help create tension and keep you there throughout the game. Top marks for atmosphere and authenticity.
The presentation quality is not quite matched for me on the technical front, but the gameplay still remained a pleasure to play. It was just some less-than intuitive mechanic choices and the minimalist UI that had me fumbling a bit. I can’t complain too much as this seems to actually suit games from the genre. The gameplay is designed to be tense, slow burning, and admittedly my fumbling around just added to this. Let’s just say the control mechanics are not quite the slick type you get in the fast-paced Battlefield games. Think more Resi Evil… but also think of those panicked moments that have you bashing at the controls – it’s part of the experience.
To make things more overwhelming is the game does little to guide you. Your objectives are listed in the pop-up screen with the map, but that’s about it. I found myself scratching my head all but too often. You start with almost nothing, and when you do rummage enough scrap to craft items, or pick up a weapon, you are not abundantly supplied, so you need to pick your battles. Often avoidance is better that facing the cyborgs for example. They are sharp and usually alert more of them, so you can quickly be overwhelmed armed with three bullets and a wrench.
Fortunately the stunningly designed and crafted Sevastopol Station is filled with hiding spots and a maze of air-ducts for you to traverse or stay out of sight. There is quite a bit of puzzle gameplay, like electrical circuit boards which you can activate and deactivate doors, ducts and so forth. There are also the obligatory hacking puzzles, and they were well designed to. I also absolutely loved the old-school feel in regards to the saving your game side of things. Saving is done manually by finding a phone booth (thingy). They are scattered through the station, but you need to find them. The result is if you are not on the right track on your mission, you could easily miss the optimal save spot. So the old-school feel of repeating segments over an over was frustratingly satisfying. You can even be attacked while saving to make things just that little more intense.
But this is no ‘old game’ though. No, the AI is far too intelligent to have been created in less capable times. The cyborgs seem to pick up on your patterns, and so the path is all but too often, not the most obvious. And of coarse this all adds to the survival theme. Even the other human survivors can be irrational or unpredictable, again making you feel very alone. Then to top it all off, there is the ultimate threat of the Alien appearing – you don’t know when or where. The brilliant AI really takes Isolation to lofty heights in the horror theme. I would really need to pick my brain to remember which game creeped me out as much in recent times.
The campaign I believe can be done in around 14 hours, but given the difficulty and the fact that I would all but too often get lost, I clocked in a considerable amount more. And then there’s the intense and nicely difficult Survival Mode, which makes Isolation pretty good value for money to.
Being a big fan of Ripley’s original, Alien: Isolation had to feel like it could’ve been stitched in with film, accurately, for me to really let it in. And that it does – so authentically so. Fortunately Isolation is much more than a pretty face – it’s a proper survival-horror. Well, more specifically, it’s my type of horror. The type that keeps you tense, makes you sweat a little. There’s no cheap ‘Scream’ moments as I call them, like a monster randomly popping up on the screen. Alien Isolation is a stylish design, slow burning and atmospheric. The visuals, the sound effects and score elevevate all this.
So in conclusion, I would say not only is Alien: Isolation authentic and true to the genre it is categorized in, but it’s also very polished making it an absolute no-brainer for horror fans, and all the more if you’re a fan of the film.
Read about our ratings here.