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Alien Isolation hands-on: In space no one can hear you get frustrated

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 14, 2014
Alien: Isolation has the potential to be the year's best horror game and the world's best Alien game, but only by brute force.

Alien Isolation

Something has breached the quarantine zone on the decommissioned space station Sevastopol, and since this game is called Alien: Isolation I have a pretty good idea of what it is. As I creep down the hallway of the mostly-abandoned medical wards, one of the ceiling lights clatters to the ground and a long, undulating ribbon of black unfolds from the ceiling.

It's horrific. It's spectacular. It's the Alien.

The Alien lands with hardly a sound, crouched like it's ready to pounce. I crouch under a nearby gurney, subconsciously holding my breath. It's tense. The Alien stalks off down the hall, and after a few hesitant steps into the open I creep out from my hiding spot and head towards my next objective. This is Alien: Isolation at its best.

Halfway to the objective, I come around a corner and find the Alien waiting for me. I die. I restart from my last save point. I hurry back to the cutscene trigger--the ceiling light falls down, the Alien comes out of the ceiling, I hide under the gurney, it walks off, I walk off. This time I'm caught trying to mess with a door's access panel. I die. I hurry back to the cutscene trigger--the ceiling light falls down a third time, the Alien comes out of the ceiling, I hide under the gurney, it walks off, I walk off, I die, I hurry back to the cutscene trig--you get the idea.

This is Alien: Isolation at its worst.

Crawling in the dark
Alien: Isolation is a first-person horror/survival game based off the best film of the franchise, a.k.a. Alien a.k.a. shut up, Aliens fans, because you're wrong. As such, Alien: Isolation is mostly about creeping through the dark (and excellently realized and rendered) corridors of the Sevastopol and making sure nobody comes and kills you. You're not gunning down hordes of enemies, you're not murdering dozens of Aliens. You're scared and you're fragile.

Alien: Isolation is better than Aliens: Colonial Marines. Let's get that out of the way. There's been all sorts of talk from people saying, "I don't want to play Isolation because Colonial Marines was garbage." That's silly. They're different games. Obviously I can't vouch for the entire game right now, so I won't. What I've played though? It's good. Not incredible, but it's not a train wreck of a game like Colonial Marines.

The Sevastopol is perfect. The tech is the beautiful retro-futuristic style of seemingly all '70s and '80s sci-fi films, replete with computers that need tapes for storage and clunky CRT monitors. Your main "weapon" is a motion tracker, which you can pull up to see whether the Alien is nearby.


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