Isolation allows you to use a PlayStation 4 Camera or Kinect to track your head movements and noise levels in the room. The latter is inconsistent, the alien not registering our claps as it passed, while at other times it would pounce on us for seemingly no reason at all. The head tracking works better, but doesn’t feel as natural as it might have done due to the modicum of lag between your own movements and those onscreen, and the fact that you still have to hold L1 to peek. Still, physically leaning around cover to keep an eye on the creature just feet from you remains a rush, even if pressing a button somewhat undermines the immersive effect. from the DualShock 4 speaker. Brilliantly, the noise it makes in-game will also alert nearby threats to your location, which can lead to some unpleasant demises if you happen to pull the device out at the wrong moment. You also have a Security Tuner, used to hack terminals and some locked doors through a variety of short minigames, such as matching glyphs, which can be intensely fraught when you can hear the alien prowling nearby. Other doors require wrenches or cutting tools to bypass, so finding the right gear will open up previously inaccessible areas of the station, and you’ll regularly backtrack through its lightly bounded spaces.
Thanks to the game’s meticulous design and lighting, you’ll never tire of moving around Sevastopol. More important, though, is the alien itself: across our 20-plus hours of play, it didn’t once behave incongruously or do anything to lessen its impact. The story fares less well, overreaching itself when what feels like the climax is followed by a several more hours of running about, during which the studio comes perilously close to letting Cameron’s influence drown out Scott’s.
Even this can’t ruin the brilliance of the core systems or the exquisitely orchestrated atmosphere in a game possessing some of the most terrifying sequences we’ve ever encountered. Unlike the creature at its centre, Isolation isn’t structurally perfect, but it is brilliantly hostile in a way that’s likely to shock many players. Here, Creative Assembly has crafted a survival experience that feels as fresh as it does familiar, and raised expectations for what a horror game can achieve. If only it had the script to match.