Lets Talk Games – Alien Isolation
The following contains spoilers.
Before I start I’d like to clarify that Alien Isolation wasn’t a terrible game by any means. As a horror game it delivered a claustrophobic setting, inanimate objects that like to jump scare the player at random,Â areas that provide little to no light and a horrifying 7 foot tall monster that kills people. HoweverÂ no game is perfect andÂ gaming fans of the Alien franchise are well aware of this factÂ “cough” Colonial Marines. Anyway for this postÂ I’m going to highlight three problems I found related to the one thing that made me actually want to play this game…
Let’s start right off the bat. While the creature from this game does adhere to some ofÂ the established physical traits and behaviours of the original Alien from 1979 it didn’t take long before I was already seeing problems.
Some can be forgiven, such as the alien being faster andÂ more agile in the game. While a slower moving creature worked well in the movie it worked becauseÂ the viewers had no control over the situation andÂ all they could do wasÂ watch as the helpless victims are killed off one by one. In a videogameÂ settingÂ if all the player needs to do to survive or escapeÂ is hold down the run button then they will never get that feeling of true terror. So making the alien fast enough that the player couldn’t outrun it was a fair move.
However some problems can’t be overlooked. The biggest of which being the creatures serious lack of understanding of the concept of stealth. While you could argue that this made for more on-screen appearances it ignored the emphasis of “less is more” which, personally, works to great effect in horror. Yes, it helps the player to know where the alien is but that spoils the point of being “hunted” A hunter doesn’t stomp about the forest,Â growlingÂ at everything that moves and not even trying to hide or blend in with the environmentÂ when searching for prey. Why, you might ask? Because the hunter doesn’t want the prey to run for it’s life in the opposite direction! I can’t invest in the alien when it goes out of its way to let me know that it’s in the area. They may as well have programmed the creature to send me an e-mailÂ saying “I’m gonna catch u lol”Â whenever it was nearby! (takes a moment to calm) There were instances when the aliens appearance would surprise me and it would seemingly appear out of nowhere, those were my favourite moments of the game,Â but these instances were so few and far between and many of them were scripted events rather than the random behaviour I myself and many others expected. In most cases I was left with a disappointing experience against an AI that, while it’s behaviour could adapt in some ways, it still never even bothered to check the corners of the doorways as it wasÂ stomping through to see if I was hiding there.
The explanation behind how the alien gets onto the station is, again, less than believable. Marlows wife was facehugged while investigating the derelict ship on LV 426. Fair enough. Marlow took her back to his own ship, the Anesidora, still facehugged, andÂ presumably the crew just let him (because who cares about health and safety?). He then brings her to Sevastopol spaceÂ station, still facehugged, for treatment. So didÂ no one on his ship or at the station do ANYTHING at all to prevent him from bringing an unknown and potentially hostile organism on board a space station populated by a hundred or more people? With the Anesidora you can say he was the captain and the crew just didn’t have the backbone to question his judgement. But how do you convince the security andÂ health and safety officials at aÂ space station that this alien creature attached to a woman’s FACE is nothing to be concerned over? There is some information in-gameÂ from audio files that explains Marlow wasn’t permitted to dock the ship at Sevastopol but was given clearance to bring some of the crew onto the station but considering how strict modern day airport security can be I just couldn’t get over this issue.
Finally we’re brought to the hive. So at a pretty late point in the game Amanda finds the hive, eggs everywhere, dead people with holes in their chestsÂ and of course more aliens. I had hoped at this point we would be shown which form of reproduction was being used for the aliens in this game. Presumably Ridley Scott’s version which, although I’m still not 100% sure what was happening even after seeing it a hundred times, seemed to involve using prey to feed the growth of the eggs and facehuggers as well as using them as hosts rather than the more commonly known queen and egg sack method introduced in the sequel, Aliens. I say presumably because aside from the absence of the queen the hive looks pretty standard in the alien universeÂ and despite looking for nearly an hour throughout the hive I couldn’t find anyone who looked like they were being eaten by an alien egg. I can only assume it was left as a “question” to be answered in the sequel that the ending so “discreetly” hinted toward. On a side note, I was also disappointed to find that even though it was very clear at this pointÂ that several aliens were now loose in the ship I was still being hunted by just ONE alien at any given time. No the facehuggers don’t count. An easily dispatchable vagina with legs is as frightening in game as it sounds on paper, which is to say not nearly as frightening as an invincible 7ft tall alien.
And there we have it. Though, as I said at the beginning, Alien Isolation is still entertaining and for anyone who isn’t very fond of the movie, or those who simply aren’t so nit-picky about such matters, this game will definitely deliver a good horror experience. I also have to commend the Survivor mode for being pretty much all I wanted out of this game – an excuse to run around a sci-fi setting while being chased by the very creature that haunted the dreams of my childhood.
Thanks for reading!