Review: Alien Isolation
Sega have been brave enough to give us an Alien game that captures the essence of the first film perfectly, took me twenty hours to complete, no multiplayer in sight and a more than generous DLC collection to boot with the season pass.
When I went to see Alien in the cinema, in 2012 in a retro night at the Odeon, it was the first time I was seeing it. I was surprised, nay, blown away by its tedious mediocrity. A lot of this has to have come from me watching it in 2012 for the first time, after Alien Trilogy on the PSX and the AVP I had on the PC, instead of in the seventies. I apologise and I have seen it twice and I still didn’t like it, I did really enjoy Aliens though if that will allow you all to forgive me slightly. So when I say that the essence of the first film was captured perfectly I spent a fair percentage of Alien Isolation wishing it was over, and every five hours mistakenly assuming it was over. Am I the only one who thought this? I’m certainly the only one of my friends who has thought this, they couldn’t get enough of climbing about and taping things to stuff and reading other peoples emails. Easily fifteen of the twenty hours, if not more, was spent hiding under desks, negotiating with androids using a nail gun, avoiding air vents, listening out for footsteps and being ferociously scared out of my wits when my body was being pulled apart or when I was been forced to deepthroat a facehugger’s tail all of a sudden.
Like with the movie, the pace is relentless, it never lets up, the tension is so terrifyingly opaque that Hitchcock would be struggling to chisel through it with his knife, knife, knife. Decisions such as saving the game severely risked my life, and since the save points ran on Windows 3.1 they took quite a long time before I could save again, assuming that I’d survived a sneak attack by the Alien that seems to be drawn to me like Pépé le Pew is to a Cat with a white stripe. The main stresses in the game come from Androids gone bad, which a few of them have, that cause them to really creepily tell you you are becoming hysterical before laying a co-ordinated and premeditated smack down on your ass. Once you have escaped the androids there may be humans who will try and kill you for your hair, skin and Pokémon cards. Of course there is also a big black flailing Alien roaming the ship, allowing you to build devices to make noise such as the noisemaker, then you can sneak up and sew it into the lining of the unsuspecting humans pants and watch them get cubed by an enormous beast with two mouths. Which sounds like a double entendre, but is not. Except for what H.R. Giger already did.
The game finally, after hours of playing greeted me with its logical conclusion, about four times before I stopped trusting it, and things went wrong for Ripley slightly too often, though the vision of a dozen aliens creeping all over the ship like lice on a young homeless child’s head is unnerving and awesome to watch.
Once the Giger counter has shaken you to your core, the game allows you, with the purchase of a season pass, access to Survivor mode, which is a slightly more typical action map collection, including its on sub categories with a few of the pieces of DLC giving you waves of enemies to protect yourself against. It is a section that easily lends itself to multiplayer or co-op and for some reason completely failed to integrate it, but as a stand alone game it really is worth the money. If you like Alien. If you watched the film and you had were so bored you started to bleed, then this game will also empty you out, if you really thought, quite correctly, that every Alien game since AVP and AVP Gold have been unworthy of your attention and you’ve been secretly begging the gods of your preferred religion for a game that treats Alien with respect, this game has everything you want from it and the season pass is an absolute bargain featuring about ten extra maps and, it also makes getting a few trophies much easier.