Alien Isolation 2014 (PC)

Why can’t anyone get an Alien game right? It seriously can’t be that hard. The story’s written for you, the hardware is tried and tested with the output resulting in some of the coolest military weapons ever made and finally the characters are too cool for skool.

Spoilers…

Ultimately, as wonderfully accurate Isolations portrayal of Alien era universe is, the clunky mechanics let the game down for me. It looks ok but suffers from that infuriating case of ‘It looks like I can go there but that tiny suitcase in the way is stopping me’. Until of course, it miraculously lets you pass later as the story progresses in its typically linear fashion.

As I said, it looks great and I even tried it with the Oculus Rift on – again, an impressive technical feat. But I had to stop playing – mainly because it was a genuinely terrifying experience, but more importantly because it made me violently sick where I had to physically lie down for 30 minutes. Strange.

I’ve progressed to about 30% of the game and there’s no incentive for me to continue. It feels too much of a grind really and that scare-fest thing that seems to be a thing, just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

Edit – March 2014
So I decided to dust off this game, I don’t like leaving titles incomplete. Picking this up where I left off, I let myself flow into the game a bit more as I remember I was very critical last time.

One thing that really did stand out, this is a very stylish game. They’ve done a wonderful job of immersion and despite the regularly recurring theme of space-station-in-crisis metallics, I found myself frequently stopping and just taking in the detail. HD textures really do bring the game to life, from photos INSIDE the cabinets (visible only partly when you hide in them) to the wonderfully retro on-screen graphics and audio prompts.

Aesthetically, the environment is captivating. But then so much happens to disconnect that sense of immersion. Your character’s path is utterly linear to compliment the narrative. I understand why they need to have a story on rails, but I hate the fact that you can’t simply step over a suitcase, or a barricade of small boxes utterly blocks your path. Look down to your feet and turn at the same time and you get a feeling of comedy as your feet ice skate.

Add to this the Alien. Fact is, 99% of this game is one of hide and seek. The winner isn’t the most ingenuous or the most creative, it literally comes down to the most patient. You will throw yourself into a hiding spot and the Alien will just pace up and down RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Forever. You find yourself invariably wishing that the Alien would simply fuck off. It walks about like a biped and after the initial scripted introduction, it looks like a badly animated monster. Which is upsetting really given how amazing a creation it is.

I completed it now and the ending couldn’t have ended more predictably flat. It opens itself up to a tiring sequel and all the expected outcomes of an Alien story are in there.

By the end of the game, I hated the Alien. I didn’t respect it, it just came across as a stupid, thick irritant with massive claws and teeth. Would this have been a better game with better AI? Absolutely. Giving the Alien more realistic behaviour would have no doubt given a hugely missing layer of strategy.

Instead we have a very frustrating game which relies on patience. That’s not challenging nor is it rewarding.

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