Today marks the release of the highly anticipated Alien: Isolation. Well, at least it’s been highly anticipated by me ever since I first heard about it. I loved the idea of a game inspired by the original Alien (instead of Aliens) and since it was the best game I played at this year’s E3, I was really looking forward to it. With what I’ve played so far, it appears that we have a sleeper hit on our hands.
The thing that I absolutely love about this game is the art design. This game takes place in the future but a future filtered through the late 70s. Every piece of equipment has a certain clunky practicality to it and almost all of it is manually controlled. There’s very few things which are digital. I really felt as if I was in the middle of a retro future world.
This is survival horror in the purest sense. You are essentially helpless against all of the enemies in the game. As such, sneaking around and staying out of sight is mandatory. You get weapons but they don’t seem to do much but cause a distraction for you to escape. Even the items you craft are made to get your foes’ attention. There seems to be an abundance of materials with which to craft items but things like batteries and bullets are extremely rare. You need to be very frugal with your stuff since it’s hard to find much of it. Again, this is the essence of survival horror.
The pace of the game is deliberately slow. In the above video, I get to actually see the xenomorph for the first time and I had already been playing for a good couple of hours. There are some tense moments with humans and robots that get the action going but for the most part this game is about keeping you in suspense. I’ve encountered very few “fright-scares” and most of the scariness of the game is with trying to figure out what’s around the next corner. Even when I finally got my motion tracker, the suspense only heightened because now I knew that there were things around me but I couldn’t exactly tell where they were. On this end, the slow pace only helped to heighten the terror I was feeling.
The only thing I find fault with so far are with the cinematics. They are rendered nicely but they can get very choppy for some reason. I know there is supposed to be a day one patch for this game and hopefully that will alleviate some of this. It’s the only thing in the game which is breaking my immersion and I don’t quite understand how it was released with this obvious defect. Let’s hope that Sega can fix this issue sooner rather than later.
And thus ends my quick first impressions of Alien: Isolation. As of right now I think this title is great and is living up to the expectation I had for it. I’m only about a quarter of the way through it so I suspect that there will be more cool and terrifying stuff awaiting me. Like I said in the intro, I think this has the potential to be a sleeper hit this fall and I certainly hope that when I finish the game that it’ll end up as one of the highlights of this year in gaming.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the final review for this game will be delayed by some time due to me having to go to New York City Comic-Con. When I return, I promise to jump back into this game ASAP to get this review to you guys. – Tony