This week during E3 we got a chance to play Alien: Isolation, the upcoming first person survival game from Creative Assembly and Sega. In a nutshell, the game is scary good, filled with plenty of suspenseful, edge of your seat moments that we've come to know and love from the original Alien movie by Ridley Scott.
I note the first Alien film because this game falls in between the original and James Cameron's blockbuster sequel, Aliens. The original film wasn't about high action and blazing guns, but sneaking through dark corridors in order to escape from the deadly menace. That's what you have here, and you'll find yourself cursing obscenities when you discover that death is imminent.
Alien: Isolation takes place 15 years after the first film. Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda, is trying to discover the truth behind her mother's disappearance, and volunteers to recover the Nostromo's flight recorder from the Sevastopol space station. When she gets there, the place is in shambles and there's a lone alien roaming the halls and air ducts.
From the start, the developers with us at E3 warned players that we shouldn't make any noise, we shouldn't run from the monster, and we sure shouldn't use any weapons against it. Again, this isn't like most if not all Aliens-based games that make you the hunter. In this game, you're the hunted, as the bug-headed beast will track you down using sight, smell and sound.
Unfortunately, I didn't get this message until the demo was over, so I died a lot. I would run from the monster if spotted, which was just plain stupid and sealed my death with a face full of teeth. I would use the flamethrower thinking I could kill it, but that didn't work either, and instead drove the alien into the air ducts. Looking back, using fire actually seemed to have pissed it off even further.
The demo I played was the challenge mode offered behind doors. The objective was to find two badges, to not use the motion detector, and seal off a stairway. You start off in a room filled with flares and the flamethrower. After that, the door opens and you're off to meet those challenges. Not using the motion detector means relying on sound only, which can be downright scary.
To make the gameplay even more difficult, players can't simply activate the motion sensor and move on; the right bumper button must be pressed at all times in order for it to stay active. The same goes for the flamethrower; the bumper button must be pressed for it to be armed while the right trigger unloads the blanket of fire.
So I will gladly admit I didn't succeed in beating the challenge; I'm too much of a run-n-gun player who needs to spend more time on stealth survival games such as this. There were plenty of places to hide from the monster – in lockers, under furniture and so on – but ultimately, my foolish need to blast the alien's head into an acidy mush led to my undoing.
Still, Alien: Isolation was a surprisingly good time. The game will scare your socks off as you creep around in dimly lit corridors and rooms. You'll hear the thing rumbling around above, or stomping around on your level, looking for meat.
Alien: Isolation will raid the two Xbox consoles, the two PlayStation consoles and Windows PC on October 7, 2014, just in time for the Halloween season.