Platform reviewed on: Xbox One.
Also on: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PC, OS X, Switch, Linux, Xbox 360.
The premise is simple: You step in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, engineer and daughter of the famous Helen Ripley (the main protagonist of the Alien franchise) and you are trying to find information about your missing mother on the Sevastopol space station. As you can probably guess, things do not turn out to be a simple walk in the park, since a lethal antagonist desperately wants to sink his razor sharp tail in your torso. Quite simple plot, with a few twists along the way, that sets a nice steady pace but only for the first half of the game, since the latter part is a bit repetitive and it drags on a bit.
Now, let me get one thing straight: the game released back in 2014 by a strategy games developer (Creative Assembly) and seeing it now, 4 years later, makes you think it will definitely hold up for another decade. Graphics are really good, with humongous attention to detail on the atmosphere. Sevastopol feels like a doomed place, with bodies lying around, loads of blood on the walls and huge scratches that indicate a demonic prescence. The lightning effects are outstanding, one of the best (if not the best) i have ever encountered in a survival horror game. All these factors make your skin crawl as you tread carefully the narrow corridors of Sevastopol. To the atmosphere undoubtedly adds the presence of the motion tracker from the original movies, that scans the area on a 2D plane and indicates the presence of life (enemies and friends) in the proximity. Only downside in the graphics department are the character models, which look a little bit dated by today’s standards. Also, for absolutely no reason, they are very sweaty. Not even Olympic athletes sweat that much. On the other side, the alien itself is brilliantly designed and the first time it descends from a vent in front of you, your jaw will drop; it is really a an imposing creature.
Only one word to describe it: Brilliant. For a game of this kind, sound design is of utmost importance and Alien Isolation manages to exceed my expectations with flying colors. When you hear for the first time the alien crawling inside a vent, you will make Amanda run like hell, find the nearest closet and lock her inside. When you first get the flamethrower and listen to its flame, you will feel like holding a truly powerful tool of destruction in your hands. The music, especially when the alien is searching nearby, adds to the tension and stresses the player to the point of no return. For better results, pick up a decent pair of headphones, eliminate any environment noise in the room, and immerse yourself.
As i said in the beginning, your character here is not a a trained soldier neither an action movie hero. Amanda is just an engineer, who has to use whatever parts she can scavenge from the environment to create tools that will help her overcome the odds. From noise crackers to flash bangs, you can create a lot of tools that can potentially distract, stun or even immobilize your foes. There are weapons of course, but ammo is scarce and all of them (except the flamethrower) are useless towards the alien. Amanda can also hide inside lockers, under beds, run, crawl, turn levers and solve puzzles that unlock doors by using a special device. Every movement has been given weight, meaning that you genuinely feel like controlling Amanda. Apart from the alien you get to face a lot of uninspiring but tough joes (androids) and some looters which are usually easy to beat with one or two well placed shots from your revolver. But, it is the alien that steals the show. First of all it has an AI by itself, meaning that it is completely unpredictable. Once it spots you and you do not posses a flamethrower to fend it off, better leave your controller and let it swallow you;it is a one hit kill mates, i am sorry. And it can spot you very easily, even by hearing the beeping sound of the motion tracker. I can go on and on about the alien but you should play the game to fully appreciate the work that has been done here by the developers. Finally, there is no auto save system, meaning that if you die and have not saved you get to repeat large portions of the game. Sorry again.
Value for money..9.5
Let me tell you a story: I bought this game for 13 euros on December 2016 and i played it after i finished Resident Evil 7 (yes that is 2 survival horror games back to back, not for the faint of heart). When i first encountered the alien, i was so terrified, that i stopped playing immediately and abandoned completely the game for about 4 months, pretending that it simply did not exist in my library. I started it eventually on August 2017 and finished it in 2 weeks (that is more than 20-25 hours of game time for me, quite long for a game of this genre), almost suffering several heart attacks along the way. If you are a survival horror fan, you owe it to yourself to invest time and money on this one.
P.S.: To see a bit of gameplay, click here.
“For giving me enough heart attacks for 2 lifetimes”