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If you were a fan of the classic film Alien directed by Ridley Scott you will thoroughly be pleased with this “sequel.” Even if you are too young and never got a chance to watch the film the game does a good enough job to bring you into the fold. Let’s start with a brief plot: The game takes place 15 years after the events portrayed in Ridley Scott’s Alien. You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of missing warrant officer Ellen Ripley (the heroine from Alien). She is approached with word that the flight recorder from the Nostromo (the ship her mother was aboard) has been recovered and is currently on The Sevastopol, which is a free port space station. She is offered a spot on the team to retrieve it, but what is supposed to be an easy retrieval mission soon becomes a nightmare. When Ripley and her team arrive at the Sevastopol station they find it with a vast amount of damage. As Ripley and two others try to board the Sevastopol, some debris separates them and now it’s up to Ripley to investigate what happened and retrieve the flight recorder.
From the moment you step onto the Sevastopol Station you are filled terror; the entire ambience gives you this claustrophobic feeling where you always think something is right behind you. You have no idea what has happened on the station and why it has been riddled with corpses and a few survivors. I was only able to play this game a few hours at a time because the amount of tension was simply too much for me. The designers of this game did very well to invoke a tense atmosphere and the scariest moments were actually when you were by yourself. Every sound caused me to jump from my seat even when it was just a piece of metal falling caused by the damage the station has sustained. I constantly felt as if the alien was right there behind me, ready to pierce my abdomen. The alien itself is terrifying as well, the developers gave the alien AI and so it was very unpredictable. Just because you got to point A did not mean that the alien would be at point B and do a certain action. The alien could be alerted if you set off an alarm or fire your weapon. This really made you think what course of action you need to take to get past certain obstacles and just because it didn’t work for you one time does not mean you’d get the same result the next.
By far, this game has been one of the stress inducing games I have ever played. It’s not the conventional scary game by depicting gruesome images or by constantly shocking you with things pooping out; this game invokes a sense of fear caused by putting you in the unknown. You never know if any of your actions will alert the alien or other enemies to your location and kill you. If you don’t like stealth games or get easily bored with them, then Alien: Isolation may not be the best for you. If you want to survive the nightmare you’ll have to move slowly to explore and avoid detection.
As you explore the space station you’ll be given tasks like locate a key to open a certain door, hack a computer system to allow you certain access, but not until you first locate “X.” These constant tasks are great at first, but later become redundant. It feels as if anything that could go wrong will go wrong. You are hampered at every turn and every “simple” mission is not quite so simple. On the other hand, there is a makeshift crafting system where you can make anywhere from Med Kits to noise makers and flamethrowers. This does allow for variation in the game and makes you really think how you can use your tools to proceed. Moreover, all of this is done in real-time and so you must remain exercise precaution otherwise you can be detected and killed. Like it was said before this game is all about high tension; there is no auto-save feature to the game. If you want to save your progress you have to reach these Emergency Phones to save your progress and even that takes time. In the 3-5 seconds it takes to save you can be killed by the alien, which can cause some frustrations. It seems as if there are more save spots earlier in the game where it’s not really needed than later on when you truly wish for a slight break.
Overall, the game does a really great job portraying the retro futuristic look with the green screen computers and block lettering. The entire ambience is right on point; you truly feel as if you’re on a decimated space station and you feel pretty alone. The faults of this game is that it feels like it was too drawn out too long; by the end you get tired of having to hide in a locker for the umpteenth time waiting for the alien to leave. The tasks become monotonous and extremely difficult when you have to deal with all of the prior elements at once and you just want to escape.
So the main reason why you’re reading this is “should I buy this game”? There’s no clear answer for this. If you are a fan of the series and enjoy stealth games then this game is totally for you. If you prefer fast-paced games where there are hordes and hordes of enemies you must face then you might not enjoy it so much and might get bored with it. I for one truly enjoyed it; it was the first game I have played that took a different approach to playing a horror survival game. Alien: Isolation is available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. The game also offers two DLC where you get to play as one of the crew on the Nostromo trying to flush the alien out of the air duct and the other where you play as Ellen Ripley trying to initiate the ship’s self-destruct sequence and escape in the shuttle. One last comment: this review was done playing the PlayStation 4, which was a copy provided by SEGA prior to launch. This version comes with the option of utilizing the PlayStation camera to track your head for when you’re in Peek Mode or you can enable it to detect noise if you want an added challenge. I do not own a PlayStation Camera and so I cannot comment on what it is like playing with these features. If you have please comment to let us all know!