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Alien Isolation - The Ultimate Alien Experience (full fanboy praise)

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Neomorph

Jun-01-2017 5:27 AM

I finished my second playthrough of Alien Isolation yesterday after a long break, feeling relieved, exhausted and with thoughts about the many memorable moments the journey through Sevastopol station brought me. I had forgotten just how good Alien Isolation was.

This time I choose hard mode difficulty and I highly recommend it, because the xenomorph is even more unpredictable, aggressive and spends less time in the vents. You'll constantly be on your toes in some areas (the initial in-game difficulty menu even states that hard mode is the intended way Alien Isolation should be played)

However, you don't need to play on higher difficulties to appreciate the atmosphere and stunning attention to detail in every area the devs Creative Assembly put into this game. It's so Alien 1979 that you'll think you just stepped into the film (if I recall correctly I think the devs even got their hands on the original concept art, and it shows)

The sound design is absolutely amazing, and I recommend playing with quality headphones to make the experience as immersive as possible. It makes a huge difference.

You'll panic as you hear the heavy footsteps of the Xenomorph as it drops down from the vents to search for humans, and you'll tremble in fear as the it "sniffs" out the locker you're hiding in, just a few feet away from potential instant death. Hold your breath or the Alien will kill you in a heartbeat, quickly and violently (just don't hold your breath too long or you'll suffocate; this game is unforgiving). The jump scares are endless no matter how many times you see them. 

Firearms are useless, true to Ash' iconic reply to "how do you kill it?" from Alien; "you can't". 

If the Xenomorph spots you, it'll give out a bone chilling shriek and you're pretty much screwed unless you carry incendiary devices (that are limited) and successfully hit the extremely fast monster (you can't outrun it), but that's only a temporary solution to drive the beast away, as it will return seconds later even more aggressive and relentless in it's search for you.

Apart from the Alien there are crude androids called Working Joes, hilariously promoting themselves saying "you always know a working Joe" among other randomly generated lines.

However, you'll soon realize that these doll-like emotionless looking androids just make the game even scarier.

If they're set out to "offer assistance", and "calm you down", get away or defend yourself; they're not there to help you (I think you get the idea) but shooting them or running away could also attract the Xenomorph in a lot of areas, so it's best to stay unnoticed and sneak past the androids. Easier said than done.

In some instances the Xenomorph might end up confronting a patrolling android for some black comedic moments, as the android might say "what are you" or "unidentified organism" to name a few reactions, as the Xenomorph curiously approaches for the moment to further examine this "strange humanoid". Get to close their meeting and the fun is over; the game switches instantly from funny to terrifying again just to remind the player what the monster is all about. 

I mentioned the word might, because one of Alien Isolation's greatest strengths is that every playthrough and encounter is unique and differs from another (not related to difficulty level)

During my second playthrough there were moments where the Xenomorph emerged to attack survivors, giving me a short amount of time to sneak away at a distance before it managed to spot me. Or when the Xenomorph begins to adapt and briefly halts its attack when you aim the flamethrower at it, only to catch you off-guard when you blink or it escapes to attack you elsewhere when you least expect.

It's during these moments that Alien Isolation becomes more than a game, it elevates itself to an unpredictable and authentic interactive masterpiece. 

Hats off to Creative Assembly.

23 Responses to Alien Isolation - The Ultimate Alien Experience (full fanboy praise)

Merlinamagus

Jun-01-2017 6:39 AM

Hear hear! An amazing experience - especially at 2am in a darkened room with surround sound/headphones on. Distinctly scary and tense. Full credit to the CA team.

"Is that a question Sir?"

QueenElizabethShaw

Jun-01-2017 7:23 AM

It was one of the best gaming experiences of my life hands down. It could have easily been it's own installment on film. For any Alien fans who were disappointed with Covenant, if you haven't played Isolation, do it. It will satisfy that lingering hunger and do so for at least 12 hours of gameplay.

P.S. Make sure you read EVERYTHING from the computer terminals. It is critical to learning the full story.

Jonesy

Jun-01-2017 10:00 AM

Nice read and totally agree with it. Alien Isolation is probably the best game I ever played. I am so thankful for its release. 

 

Neomorph

Jun-01-2017 10:54 AM

@Merlinamagus Yes! Alien Isolation is best enjoyed at night. 

@QueenElizabethShaw Same here and I agree that it could've been a standalone film, because Amanda's story is definitely something to expand upon further (as showcased in the game with Amanda's compelling search for her mother) and the seed was already planted in the extended version of  Aliens.

Amanda's own film is definitely something for FOX to consider, even though we know how she dies. Or do we? Maybe W-Y killed her, covered it up and Ellen was lied to by Burke in Aliens? A lot of ideas are possible to retrofit into Amanda's fate if it's done well, like her mission to Sevastopol in Alien Isolation. 

I really like how the narrative in Alien Isolation is expanded by reading messages and listening to audio logs, without giving away too much information, it's ambiguous narrative in a good way. 

@Jonesy Thanks, it's the ultimate Alien experience imo. No guns blazing, but patience and clever sneaking where quietly getting to another area unnoticed where you know that the threat could appear at any time is a great sense of achievement. Not many other games can pride themselves with that; making you feel like an expert survivalist. 

dk

Jun-01-2017 11:44 AM

Neomorph  Nice summary. I also noticed the Alien will sometimes attack and knock you down. When you get re oriented, you notice it has left. It takes a moment to realize you survived. Other times it walks past you and once you think it is about to leave it turns around and attacks. The working Joes are arguably worse since dealing with them makes noise that alert the Alien- then you have two threats to deal with.

I heard that the musical score was quite good but IDK. I shut it off so I could only hear what was going on in the game. It is the first game I bought headphones for.

Neomorph

Jun-01-2017 1:15 PM

dk thanks, yeah I've even seen the xeno knock another person down once and instantly kill him with a rare charge attack I've never seen before. Other cool details is the smoking acid splatter left on the floor and walls when the xeno is shot. I saw this from under a table as 2 guys shot the xeno.

A shotgun blast stuns it for a second but there's no time to escape after that as the xeno won't retreat from shotgun or nailgun shots, only incendiary and explosive devices work it seems. 

I love when you attempt to whack a rogue android in the head and it grabs your arm and says "you're becoming hysterical" XD so many hilarious lines from the Working Joes. 

The Alien Isolation soundtrack is amazing and keeps a very low profile that never ruins the immersion. The volume increases every time the xeno gets close with a terrifying "horror"-theme. Apart from the game's own soundtrack you get tracks from the original Jerry Goldsmith Alien soundtrack but they're fortunately sparingly used and never feel like forced fan service like in a lot of star wars games. 

dk

Jun-01-2017 1:27 PM

Neomorph  I understand how the music worked in the game. The music ramping up as the Alien is near is a great way to get the movie vibe, but I did not want any audio clues- just the environment. I am probably alone in that regard.

The working Joes were really tough since I could never get the punching mechanics down- I was either too close or too far away.

Neomorph

Jun-01-2017 1:36 PM

That makes sense, I am sure more people do the same similarly to how some people prefer games without any HUD whatsoever, to get the very barebone authenticity I guess. 

I'm just glad the option exist in video games to prevent potential ear torture if the soundtrack sucks ass and makes the gameplay unbearable lol. 

Blackwinter-witch

Jun-01-2017 2:26 PM

I've only ever watched the 'movies' asembled from cutscenes and some gameplay, and that's plenty scary by itself!! They did a really great job on this game!!

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

djamelameziane

Jun-01-2017 3:38 PM

 Yes really good game but awful story and the acting / voiceovers.  :s . If only they had a better story... I've actually forgotten it i just remember thinking... was their a story? At the end... looking at the 6 out of 10 critics it looks like they thought the same...

Butt a new one with engineers and a better story and acting and it'll be amazing...i suppose I'm spoilt by amazing games these days... hard to beat some of them like the last of us... that was a wow game!

 "It's almost as if they are making it up as they go along" :D

cuponator3000

Jun-01-2017 4:25 PM

@dk I also keep the music off! I ripped the soundtrack (it's not really official, but I think it is indeed complete) off of youtube to have though, I love it. 

I always love a good Alien: Isolation thread! It is awesome to play at night, with little or no lighting in the house, some headhpones, and caution! Although every once in a while I go for, like, speed. I have played through over the course of 15ish hours (it was spread out. I was enrolled in school and had a job both times). BUT more importantly, I reeeaally hope that this game (and the slightly possible seuqel[s]) are adapted by 20th Century Fox one day! That could be a tidy way to reboot the franchise after the almost inevitable fallout caused by the Prometheus trilogy. Keep canon intact, go back to Alien horror roots and tell the story in a wonderful, dynamic environment. 

djamelameziane's complaints are pretty valid, so they would need to be solved in an adaption. Adaption or not, I wasn't a huge fan of the voice acting. I mean, most weren't really bad, but didn't stand out as great or really good imo. All of the characters had potential, but none were realized fully (or close to fully.) Verlaine and Samuels were the two standouts in my mind. In fact, Verlaine was my favorite character, but of course she had, like, six lines. I actually found the plot cool enough. Could have been reworked to be shorter, tighter, and more satisfying. 

Lastly, I feel ridiculous when I have to say it, but sometimes I can't play because the game is too hard. I know that falls 99.9% on my shoulders (which is why it pains me so), but there are a few points in which I spend an hour or more (on average getting through.) Maybe it is sort of realistic that way, but the inside of a locker or cabinet gets old after, like, 5 minutes. The AI is supposed to be kind of actually hunting you (as much as it can with this technology), but either it is just randomly walking around (even though the developers said it isn't random) or right up my ass (due to level design/story requirements), so yeah. It is frightening and fun most of the time, but when I spend more than, like, 20 minutes hiding in one spot, move up three feet, and die or get stuck in another hiding spot, it sucks. Still, that's mostly on me (gotta git gud). No matter what, I LOVE this game. It is the closest thing I can get to walking around the original alien set and one that may even be cooler, which is what I live for haha

Not a map, an invitation

Neomorph

Jun-01-2017 5:53 PM

The voice acting overall is OK in my book, not perfect but far from bad. Amanda, the most important character, was fantastic, and she really gave me a convincing impression of a terrified yet determined human being trying to survive against something she knew she wouldn't stand a chance against.

The voice actress of Amanda really nailed a speech pattern similar to Weaver's Ripley; stern and focused but not exaggerated toughness (like Vasques), vulnerable and angry in ways that reminded me of Sigourney Weaver's emotional or heated performance in Alien depending on the situation. Of course Sigourney Weaver is in a class of her own but I don't think they could find a better voice actress to portray her daughter. I really feel like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree here in terms of vocal likeness. 

The voice actress of Verlaine was very good and among the better performances in the game. Every line from her was convincingly delivered with incredible realism, and she reminded me of Faris in Alien Covenant before she lost it (understandably so)   

The actor behind Samuels was also fantastic, and he manages to find his own spot in the franchise as a very humble and helpful ''person'' who really reminds me of a certain character in Aliens.. 

I was less impressed by Ricardo, Axel and Marlow but they did ok and didn't ruin anything, I felt like their scripted dialogue could be a little bit more convincing but that isn't necessarily their fault as it could be as instructed by the devs.

As for the difficulty cuponator3000, don't give up! Collect parts and craft molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, crouch through areas and walk fast if you have to but avoid sprinting unless you've got a lot of flamethrower fuel. Throw noise makers in the opposite direction of where you're heading to lure the xeno away from you. Flares actually work too and can keep the xeno curious for up to over 10 seconds! Hide under tables instead of lockers and you'll be able to move along faster. When the xeno enters the overhead vents and goes beyond "0.95" on your tracker, proceed and keep a close watch on the tracker display. 

dk

Jun-01-2017 6:00 PM

I was good with the voice acting. Amanda reminded me of Ripley as well. Then there are the add ons with voice acting from the original movie too.

I am not very good at games so I played on novice and probably crept 80% of the game worried about making noise. I only flamed the Alien about three times- once was required near the end of the level. I worried about running out of fuel and saved it for the huggers. It was a pretty long game but worth every penny and minute of time.

airshaft_surprise

Jun-01-2017 7:33 PM

I booted it up and started playing it again yesterday on medium difficulty, i am making my way from towerlink to systech spire to get the hacking device upgrade.

@Neomorph, some wellknowns do the voicings and some likeness, William Hope( gorman in aliens- marshall waits).

Anthony Howell(Foyles War- voice and likeness of samuels).

Kezia Burrows(Crash- she plays Amanda, but not the voice).

Original Alien cast voices(and likeness for Nostromo edition).

 

ali81

Jun-02-2017 12:31 AM

doesn't matter what level I play it on, I just seem to get stuck in lockers hiding lol absolute classic of a game and does the alien franchise so much justice.

dk

Jun-02-2017 12:33 PM

If they make another one- unlikely, I hope they make it so you can exit lockers quietly instead of kicking them open making noise- think Resident Evil 4.

cuponator3000

Jun-02-2017 12:38 PM

@Neomorph, I will never give up! Although I do my absolute best to not use the flamethrower and molotovs because it gets used to it! It goes from one blast of the flamethrower to literally 6 or 7 to make it run away for a shorter period of time after the encounter!  Plus, the noisemakers and flares start to diminish in their ability to keep the creatures focused for more than 5-10 seconds. Those are valueable seconds, but almost never enough. I mostly save that stuff for the last few missions (probably 17-20), so I can hurry through, or just plain survive, those tougher areas. No matter what, I will always struggle with it haha. 

Not a map, an invitation

dk

Jun-02-2017 1:00 PM

cuponator3000 I got to a point early on when I only used flames if absolutely necessary. On a different playthrough I used the flares a lot and instead of checking out the flares, the Alien went to where the flare came from- me.

Svanya

Jun-02-2017 1:20 PM

I still haven't been able to play through the whole game (I even have the 2 awesome DLC with the Nostromo and Ripley) because I get so scared I end up crying, lol.

dk

Jun-02-2017 1:24 PM

Lilly (Svanya) It seems best to limit play time to maybe two hours a day. It gets pretty intense. I would be afraid to move ten feet to a save point while the Alien was around- I never thought looking at feet could be so scary.

Blackwinter-witch

Jun-02-2017 1:39 PM

Lilly (Svanya)

I can't even get through the cutscene 'movies' in broad daylight in a single viewing, so you're not alone in that area of experience! :)

dk

They really did a great job capturing the 'feel' of ALIEN, right? :)

*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*

cuponator3000

Jun-03-2017 8:46 AM

dk - "On a different playthrough I used the flares a lot and instead of checking out the flares, the Alien went to where the flare came from- me."

Lol that sucks! It's nearly impossible to stay a step ahead of the Beast! 

I definitely still get scared too...I played last night even (finished up the last mission, then started over) and didn't see Axel sneaking around before I got creeped out! 

Not a map, an invitation

Neomorph

Jun-03-2017 9:52 AM

What makes Alien Isolation so scary is:

• The already obvious; the Xenomorph design is the stuff of nightmares.

• The amazing sound design of the xeno, raising the already high horror factor. 

• The feeling of human vulnerability, you're not on top anymore, the Xenomorph is. 

• The unpredictable behaviour of the Xeno, apart from a few instances, you never know when the monster will emerge. A lot of games will scare you once during a playthrough with many scripted events including a lot if jump scares, but next time around you'll know what to expect when you expect it, thus either reducing or outright erasing the horror appeal it initially had.

Predictability is something that preferably should be kept out of horror regardless of medium as much as possible, and what makes Alien Isolation so fantastic is the never ending tension and unpredictability throughout the majority of the game. If I want to stay hidden for 15 minutes, it means that the game has succeeded and established with scaring the s*** out of me whether it's from sheer shock horror or constant feeling of uneasiness.

It's one of the best compliments I can give.

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