I love both gory and spooky horror movies and I’m also a big fan of the Alien movies and H R Giger’s Xenomorph creation. Having endured Sega’s previous AvP games, I was excited to play Alien Isolation, a game that harks back to the roots of the Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie as you helplessly avoid just one alien that will definitely kill you if it spots you hiding in a dark corner.
And I haven’t been disappointed as this game is one of the most scary horror games I’ve ever played. In fact, I’d say it’s almost so stressful to the point that at times, it’s actually not enjoyable as my cortisol levels spike through the roof.
Playing as Amanda Ripley, you set off on an expedition to the Sevastopol space station to find the flight recorder from the Nostromo which could answer questions about what happened to your mother, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the movies. You’re soon left stranded in the space station and have to fend for yourself whilst avoiding the big boss alien as hiding from other human survivors and fighting off synthetics if they manage to grab you.
What really makes the game is the atmosphere. Frightened that you’ll be ambushed at any minute by a deadly predator, the game forces you to creep around slowly and smell the metaphorical roses which is a stroke of genius. You take in all the sights and sounds of the station and if you’re a fan of the Alien movies or sci-fi horror movies such as Event Horizon, you’ll be in your element here. The Worker Joe synthetics are also suitably creepy with their rubber faces and glowing eyes. They’re menacing and you really do panic when they walk towards you with the objective of murdering you.
Of course, the star of the show is the alien itself and it’s a majestic creature of beauty. Watching it drop from a pipe in the ceiling and begin its systematic stalking of your warm body is both amazing and terrifying and the first time I saw it, I just froze and ended up with its tail stabbing me through the back. Nice!
Another neat addition is the save system. Some people will find it annoying, but the fact that you can only save your progress via save slots on the walls now and then means the sense of tension is racked up even further. It’s a very slow three seconds as you hit the save and wait for it to process and it’s designed deliberately to stop you running for a save point if the alien’s hot on your heels.
The cut scenes look good in terms of renders but for some reason the frame rate seems a bit jerky. It’s not the end of the world but it would have been nice to iron this out before the game’s release, considering everything else seems to be balanced and polished almost perfectly.
There’s honestly not much to moan about here. You feel kind of empowered in the game thanks to the fact you can find and craft items to grant you access to new vents, you can even get your hands on a gun which is of limited use, but that’s half the fun. This futuristic game of hide and seek is a lesson in atmosphere and the guys at Creative Assembly have achieved it with aplomb. Who’d have thought the guys who specialise in top-down strategy games could diversify in this way! Alien Isolation gets a nerve-jangling 9 out of 10.
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