Home >mint-lounge >features >Gaming Review | Alien: Isolation

A first-person survivor game, Alien: Isolation is inspired by the Alien film series. This particular iteration, Isolation, is set in the year 2137. You play the game as Amanda, who is seeking information about the disappearance of her mother Ellen Ripley. Amanda is relocated to the space station Sevastopol, which is falling apart, but is home for the remaining population of rather edgy survivors. She, along with Christopher Samuels and Nina Taylor, travels to Sevastopol on the courier ship Torrens, owned by Captain Verlaine.

The mission is to find the flight recorder of the Nostromo, and Samuels wants Ripley to get some closure about her mother’s fate. But the trio realizes that an alien is terrorizing Sevastopol, and has already killed quite a few crew members.

The plot and audio-visual detailing of the game ensure your attention straightaway. With its futuristic computing devices (they look a lot like DOS, with their green font), their cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors in the station’s labs and sometimes high-pitched violin orchestral score, Alien: Isolation is scary. The sound effects are perhaps the highlight, and they tend to offer a heightened sense of awareness if you are using a good set of speakers. The rubbing of fabric and the slight squeaking sound from footwear are amplified to the extent that they make you jumpy, but the very sound of the alien’s clawed feet as it is hunting you down is terrifying.

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The artificial intelligence (AI) has been done well, because the alien’s actions or plan of attack seem unpredictable. There are times when you have a few minutes to plan an exit or fashion the next weapon. But the alien does have a habit of pretending to go away, only to return seconds later.

As a player, you would do well to not be caught standing in the open. The dilemma, during the periods of eerie silence, is whether to remain hidden, or start moving. All through, when you do decide to move around, the best strategy is to stay hidden and sneak around—crouching or ducking behind any object that can be used as a shield. If you tip over something, that noise will be enough for the alien to mount an attack that really cannot be controlled.

This is a real test of patience, apart from stretching your strategizing capabilities to the limit. You’ll soon realize that it is all too easy to get caught, at least initially, and embrace death while looking at the massive, razor-sharp teeth of the alien. Which sort of look beautiful at this point, for some reason.

Attention to detail is perhaps something you will develop as you go along. If you see saliva dripping from an air-conditioner vent, along with a fog of cold air, that is where the alien is. So don’t go anywhere close to (or under) the vent.

Weapons are a point of headache—there just are not enough. The traditional firearms don’t make the slightest difference. The flame thrower can perhaps distract the alien for a while, but won’t kill or even injure it.

The contrasting reactions are immediately noticeable— Amanda keeps her composure well, even when the danger may be just behind the counter she is using to hide, whereas the person playing the game, sitting in the comfort of his recliner, may be panicking.

Like any other, this game too has its drawbacks. Progress can be slow, and this is annoying after a while. It saves your progress after long intervals. If you ever need to restart from a previous stage, you’ll go back much further and replay the level, than is ideal. While Alien: Isolation keeps you on the edge of your seat for the first few hours, it becomes monotonous as you continue ducking, sneaking your way around the crumbling ship or hiding inside lockers.

Dodging is most definitely the highlight of the game, as you hold your breath and peer out from your hiding place. And the xenomorph is just 2ft away, searching, waiting, a tad angry. If you are in a locker, silently lean towards the back, further into darkness. If you are hiding under a desk, curl up into an even smaller ball of flesh and bones. And don’t breathe, because the alien will hear you.

Without doubt, this is a massively exciting game. The constantly changing scenarios—the hours of hiding and waiting, and the minutes of intense activity against a shrieking alien—do work for the game—but they also work against it after a few hours. Yet this is a title you must check if an alien game is what you have been waiting to play.

Alien: Isolation

Developer: Creative Assembly

Publisher: Sega

Platforms and prices:

Sony PlayStation 3: 2,999 Sony PlayStation 4: 3,499 Microsoft Xbox 360: 2,999 Microsoft Xbox One: 3,499 PC (Windows): 999

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