Alien: Iso­la­tion

Alone In The Dark

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames/ miscellaneous -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

For­mat re­viewed: PS4 Also avail­able on: PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC Pub­lisher: Sega

There are

plenty of de­cent Alien games, but now there’s a great Alien game. Tak­ing its cue from Ri­d­ley’s Scott’s 1979 master­piece rather than James Cameron’s ac­tion- packed se­quel, Alien: Iso­la­tion puts HR Giger’s per­fect or­gan­ism back atop the food chain, and the re­sults are thrilling.

Fif­teen years after the first film, you play as Amanda Ri­p­ley, daugh­ter of Ellen, sent to re­cover the Nostromo’s flight recorder from Sev­astopol Sta­tion. Only some­thing has gone hor­ri­bly wrong. The Work­ing Joe an­droids have lost their minds, the sur­viv­ing hu­mans have adopted a shoot- on- sight pol­icy and there are whis­pers of an un­stop­pable killer stalk­ing the sta­tion…

The Sev­astopol is a tri­umph of de­sign and at­mos­phere. Bri­tish de­vel­oper Cre­ative Assem­bly has done a peer­less job of cap­tur­ing the look and feel of the 1979 orig­i­nal, with ubiq­ui­tous retro fu­ture tech, an un­nerv­ingly evoca­tive sound­scape and pro­duc­tion de­sign ripped straight from Ron Cobb’s orig­i­nal con­cept art. It’s a game that has a bet­ter sense of place than any Alien film for almost 30 years.

But it’s the Xenomorph that makes the Sev­astopol a truly pant- wet­ting place to be. The acid- blooded beastie can ap­pear at almost any mo­ment and you’re com­pletely pow­er­less to pre­vent it per­fo­rat­ing your skull, mak­ing even sim­ple strolls be­tween ob­jec­tives un­bear­ably tense. You can’t kill it, you can’t out run it, your only hope is to hide. Rather than follow a se­ries of set pa­trol paths, the Alien is de­signed to be un­pre­dictable, mean­ing out­fox­ing it is im­pos­si­ble.

It’s a game to be en­dured rather than en­joyed

For­tu­nately, help is at hand in the form of gad­gets that can be con­structed to dis­tract or tem­po­rar­ily drive the Alien away. There’s also a range of guns, but firearms are so in­ac­cu­rate and noisy that let­ting off a round is an ab­so­lute last re­sort. It’s telling that we fired two shots in the en­tire game.

It’s a stun­ningly well- re­alised world, one un­der­pinned by ro­bust stealth me­chan­ics. But it’s also un­de­ni­ably stress­ful. Iso­la­tion is so re­lent­lessly in­tense that by the end of the gar­gan­tuan 20- hour story ( one with too much pad­ding to war­rant such a long run time), you’ll be re­lieved it’s over. It’s a game to be en­dured rather than en­joyed, which won’t ap­peal to ev­ery­one – but after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Iso­la­tion we wouldn’t have an Alien game any other way. Jor­dan Far­ley Two DLC mis­sions come with the spe­cial edi­tion; both recre­ate key scenes from Alien with the orig­i­nal cast.

Shoot­ing at a Xenomorph is not a thing you’ll do much.

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