Video Game Review: Alien Isolation

Robert Thornson, from The Armijo Signal, September 2016

Why do millions of people across the world like you and me play video games? More than likely, to feel the success of doing something challenging and or not possible in reality. But the real question is: “Which game recently pushed the tolerance boundaries of many players to play through and succeed?” I could have easily chosen Grand Theft Auto 5 and discussed the desire to succeed as a crime boss or Overwatch and talked about the importance of teamwork to achieve success. Instead, I decided to go with one of my favorite games of the last decade in which success is vital to the main character’s survival and escape.

The game I am talking about is Alien Isolation. Initially released on October 7, 2014, the game was met with good critical reception and many purchases and downloads. Alien Isolation’s gameplay has mechanics very similar to that of games like Outlast or Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which include hiding in lockers or other various containers, crawling and crouching to get through small areas like air ventilation systems, and keeping distance or even temporarily distracting a single or multiple enemies that wander around various stages of the game.

The main differences from other first-person horror games would be the game being set in the universe of the classic 1979 science fiction thriller of Alien. This gave the developers room to play with the setting of an abandoned space station giving a unique and unsettling environment as well as a terrifying enemy being the infamous Xenomorph from the original Alien movies.

Graphically, this game is gorgeous. The attention to detail throughout boggled my mind each playthrough as it added a level of reality which helped to give the game a more tense atmosphere which was achieved very nicely especially accompanied by an eerie, creepy, and intense soundtrack. Many people may credit this to the tight level design used to induce fear but the game disproves this with its amazing digital architecture for larger areas of the space station and phases that require you to travel outside as well as exceptional character models for NPCs.

The gameplay can be a little stiff at times as you will be crouching and ducking for 70% of your game, but that comes as part of the experience. There is a useful inventory and item crafting mechanic which allows you to upgrade and build certain weapons of tools that aid you in defeating or escaping threats. The game also comes with your average set of collectibles throughout the story and time based sets of challenges called ‘Survivor Mode.”


As for the context of the main campaign’s plot, Alien Isolation offers an interesting twist of events between Ridley Scott’s Alien and its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens. The story begins with the disappearance of Ellen Ripley and the Nostromo leading to a mission to find the flight recorder of the missing ship and possibly learn the whereabouts of her mother being handed to Amanda Ripley. I put around 45 hours into playing this game but it may seem like much longer at times when there are no threats present and you travel back and forth through dark rooms completing certain objectives. Besides from the story’s odd pacing, Alien Isolation delivers a well-crafted story especially for beloved fans of its source material with somewhat interesting characters and great gameplay to carry you through until the end.

I rate this game a 9.1 out of 10 with a tad bit of bias from my love of the cult classic movies of the same name and highly recommend playing this game. Make sure to keep your motion tracker handy and always check behind you…

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