Game Replay – Alien: Isolation

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It’s Halloween night and usually I watch a film. This year I decided to fire up the Xbox instead.

Not often do I replay games once I’ve been through them once. The Mass Effect trilogy and Resident Evil 4 are the only ones I can think of. Something about this one made me want to go back to it, though, and I’m already glad I have.

2014’s Alien: Isolation is officially part of the franchise canon, coming as it does between the cinematic entries Alien and Aliens. The attention to detail in this game is absolutely phenomenal. Not surprising as the developers, Creative Assembly, received three terabytes of data from 20th Century Fox, including soundtracks, prop and set designs, behind-the-scenes photos and all the original sound effect recordings.

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The result is something extraordinary, especially when it comes to the soundscape. The whole game feels exactly like the original film and is a wonderfully immersive experience. The visuals in places are beautiful and the controls are intuitive. The voice actors are good and there is a decent story at the heart of it all. It has a Bioshock feel to it with the eerie space station Sevastopol and its synthetic inhabitants.

The developers have also created a great protagonist in Amanda Ripley.

This is survival horror at its best. That’s the best thing about it. No other game has ever brought about such a visceral, physical reaction in me. Even knowing what is coming, I still find myself spending much of the time hiding under tables and peeking around corners.

On my belly under a table, hiding!

I replayed the first encounter with the alien last night and turned off all the lights in the house to ratchet up the tension. My heart was beating out of my chest when I finally got through it. As a player, you don’t have a motion tracker at this point in the game and so you have absolutely no idea where the thing is. It’s just you and it in a big, cluttered room, ringed by a balcony. The only clues you have are the noises of its footsteps. It can drop out of an air vent anywhere as well so it’s highly unpredictable. The slightest mistake and you turn a corner to this…

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As if the alien wasn’t enough to worry about, there are the hordes of creepy androids stalking the place. Working Joes. One of the best things about this game is the way that all these things can kill you quite easily. If you are discovered, you are pretty much dead. If you manage to kill one of the androids, which takes about five bullets to the head, the noise brings more of them who then punch or strangle you to death.

Here are some screenshots to give you a taste of the visual style. This environment has been lovingly designed to be in keeping with the style of Ridley Scott’s original film

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Empty places? Don’t ever think you’re safe
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Breath-taking views from any window
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Dirty, lived-in environments
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Beautiful lighting
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Close but no cigar! – Your rescue ship drifts past the window unaware of your troubles

So, it’s a big change of pace from Far Cry 5, which I’ve just finished. By the end of that I was pacing around with a rocket launcher and a laser pistol, blowing away anything that came near me. Now I’m cowering under tables like a whipped spaniel. It’s brilliant.

I might stick some more images up from the game as I progress through it. It’s such a gorgeous environment that I love taking screenshots as I go.

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween,

Richard

You can check out my other gaming-related posts here.

Happy N7 Day – Keelah se’lai

This week in Hope County

The Andromeda Experience – 10

R is for Right Trigger

and my other Halloween posts are here

Halloween Special – In the Mouth of Madness

Halloween Special – ‘The Stone Tape’

 

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