[WARNING OF SPOILERS AHEAD. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU NOT PLAYED THE GAME, BUT PLAN TO. OTHERWISE, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. THANK-YOU]
Alien: Isolation was released on 7th October 2014 by Creative Assembly and SEGA for the PC, Xbox and PlayStation platforms (along with others that I don’t recognize). It is set 15 years after the first Alien movie and focuses on Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda. But we’ll talk about the story in a minute. In this review, I’ll be focusing on the presentation, the gameplay, and the story before giving my final conclusion. Let’s get to it, shall we?
As mentioned above, the protagonist is Amanda Ripley – daughter of Ellen Ripley who was the main protagonist for all four of the Alien movies. She is approached by Christopher Samuels after the Weyland-Yutani corporation have located the flight recorder of the Nostromo – the ship from the first movie that Ellen Ripley was onboard of. After very little persuasion (which is understandable), Amanda joins the crew of Samuels, Nina Taylor and Diane Verlaine. Their ship – the Torrens – manages the locate the Sevastopol space station that took the Nostromo flight recorder from another ship, the Anesidora. As Amanda, Taylor and Samuels spacewalk to the Sevastopol station via a EVA line, however it gets cut down my debris and the trio become seperated.
Fortunately, Amanda makes it safely onto the station and decides to try and locate the other two. After making her way around Sevastopol, she notices that something bad has happened – the station is barely functioning, people stranded on the station are trying to kill her and the Working Joe androids are acting on their own accord. Amanda bumps into a survivor named Axel, who informs her of a ‘monster’ is that running loose on the ship, but is willing to help her find her friends in exchange for a place on the Torrens. Perhaps ironically, Axel is killed by said monster, now seen as the alien.
Thankfully, Amanda locates Samuels and Taylor on Sevastopol, but Taylor was severely injured from the debris storm when making their way on here. With the help of other survivors – Waits and Ricardo – Amanda manages to locate a first aid while avoiding the xenomorph to help patch up Taylor. While Taylor is on the mend, Amanda meets Waits’ prisoner Henry Marlow – the leader of the Anesidora. Marlow informs Amanda that his crew discovered the Nostromo flight recorder near the planetoid LV-426, along with the Nostromo ship with no crew and a nest believed to be the origins of the alien. Unfortunately, Marlow and his crew were attacked and had to sleek medical treatment from Sevastopol. Marlow’s wife – Foster – was attacked by a facehugger but by the time they were onboard Sevastopol, the alien hatched from her and died in the process.
Waits comes up with a plan to isolate the alien in a remote section of the station and so Amanda volunteers herself to go. However, once she does so, Waits double-crosses her and ejects the isolated module from the station. Amanda space-jumps back onto the station via a EVA suit and rightly so, angrily seeks out Waits.
On her way back, she discovers that the androids – against their programming – has began slaughtering many of the survivors. When she gets back to the Marshall Bureau, not only are Marlow and Taylor gone, but Ricardo is the only one left behind. He tells Amanda that Samuels has gone to interface with APOLLO – Sevastopol’s AI. Amanda goes to aid him, however during the process of gaining access to APOLLO, Samuels succeeds but is deactivated (he was a synthetic, which is hinted at throughout the game but not actually confirmed until his…’death’). Despite his demise, he helps Amanda gain access to APOLLO via the central core, only to learn that Weyland-Yutani has given very strict orders to APOLLO to protect the alien. She discovers a nest in the reactor, but manages to purge it with a few aliens still running loose. Ricardo informs Amanda that Taylor was sent to Sevastopol to seek out the alien and free Marlow for information of the LV-426, but instead Marlow has taken Taylor hostage onboard the Anesidora.
Amanda makes her way onto the Anesidora just in time to find her mother’s final message before she disappeared, finally reaching her goal. However, she has to push her grief to one side as Marlow attempts to override the Anesidora’s fusion reactor. Fortunately, Taylor knocks him out and helps Amanda stop the ship from destroying itself. Sadly, Taylor and Marlow are killed by electric discharge and Amanda flees before she undergoes the same fate.
Because the Anesidora’s explosions, the Sevastopol station is losing gravity, Amanda and Ricardo make contact with the Torrens and ask for a extraction. After finding a place for the Torrens to dock, Ricardo is sadly attacked by a facehugger, meaning only Amanda can save herself. After manually detaching the Torrens from Sevatopol, she boards the ship, only to find no Verlaine but another alien creature. She escapes via the airlock, only to drift out in space as the only survivor. The final scene shows Amanda unconsciously in space, only to be awoken by a searchlight.
I played this for the PS4 due to a sale at GAME, so of course it looked gorgeous. However, I did get a few lag spikes here and there and the game did crash, but only once. I encountered a few glitches too – one including the aliens head peeking through a locker I was hiding in, causing me to have a massive heart attack. Another glitch was from a weapon you acquired, the bolt gun – whenever I got off an elevator, the bolt gun would be hovering in the air outside the door, but still usable ingame. Apart from that, the game ran smoothly and beautifully.
Another thing I enjoyed was that Creative Assembly stuck to the true Alien look – the futuristic view from the 70s. The keyboard keys were chunky, the computers had box monitors and even that fricking bird thing that moves forwards and backwards made me enjoy exploring Sevastopol and the other ships that much more. It truly felt like you were in an Alien movie before it went bad (I still can’t believe Alien 4 was even made) and with the first person perspective, it adds to the immersion.
I will admit that I found the game controls very tricky to start off with – especially when it came to aim weapons, such as the revolver, and fire them. But everything was covered – running, crouching, sticking to a certain spot but being able to look out from it – and made it easier to plan on how to escape a room or grab an item without being spotted.
Of course with this game, we have to talk about the AI – holy crap, it’s amazing! The amount of times I was physically holding my breath when a xenomorph or android when past a locker I was hidden in or checked under tables when I was crouched underneath one. I think though, however, the AI was focused mainly on the alien rather than the androids or other survivors – at point when I was playing, a survivor looked and saw me, came over to where I was hiding, so I decided to make a break for it. I thought I would be too late and get a bullet in my back for my attempted bravery, only the survivor didn’t even notice, even though I was right in front of her.
I also liked the added feature of the PS4 controller acting like the tracker device – the sound came from it and even the light inbetween the L and R buttons would flash green in accordance to how close an enemy was to you. And I liked the touch pad being the map too.
I enjoyed this game a lot – the environment, the AI, the sounds, the music – everything that just reminded me of how I felt watching Alien for the first time. However, there was somethings I did have a problem with.
The story was very predictable and, I felt, very similar to the first Alien movie. It was repetitive in most places and I didn’t really get an attachment to Amanda as a character as I have done with other games, such as Lara Croft or Ori from Ori and the Blind Forest. I felt she was demanding and bossy and didn’t really develop as a person from the death-defying ordeal that she went through like you think she would. Yes, I did feel sorry for her in terms of the flight recorder and finding out about her mother, but those were the only times I cared about her, which were scarce moments.
Also, I hated that fact that every character you encounter dies and Amanda is the only survivor. Granted, that’s what happened with Ellen in Alien, but Sevastopol was such a massive place with plenty of people on it but how did only Amanda survive? That and also the fact that Amanda went from one bad situation to another – I felt that when she was captured by the alien towards the end of the game and stuck to the wall in that weird stuff was not needed.
I also felt that the game gave a lot of ‘cheap’ scares – such as pipes suddenly releasing steam or when that fire erupted suddenly in a corridor. The xenomorph itself was enough to send my whole body on high alert, but even that eventually wore off. I think it wore off when I found the alien glitched in one of the vents and couldn’t move no matter how many molotovs I threw at it.
With the alien and survivors not being the only enemies on the ship, I found the androids to be the worst. With weapons and ammo already being limited, it was horrible to go through many rooms with a huge group of them. The worst ones were the ones wearing the suits – they became immune to electricity, which was my only really good source of weaponary.
Despite the flaws I have with this game and the annoyances I had, only with barely using of the blueprints I collected but loving the crafting system, I really did enjoy this game. It made my heart pound, made me use my brain, made me become much more stealthy (so much so I may be ready to take on Metal Gear Solid at final last) and best of all, it made me want to play more survival horror games.
I give this game a solid 8.5/10.
If you are planning on buying this game, I will say this – buy it on PC and I really felt that this game was made with PC as the primary platform and not the others. At least, that’s how I felt playing it.
There may be a plan for a sequel – Creative Assembly are in talks about it – so I hope they do because I will definitely play it. In the mean time, I think I’ll enjoy the DLC.
Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed! Please leave a like/comment – I always appreciate them. Until next time, take care!