by Suzanne Verras
The moment Ellen Ripley discovers the alien in the escape shuttle is when you quiver with fear. She is all alone now. She manages to throw it out of the airlock and blast it into space, but in the moments before, Ripley is in a state of terror, and you are as well.
This last scene captures the horrifying feeling of battling against an undefeatable beast incredibly well. It is exactly this feeling you get when you make your silent and careful way across the decks of Sevastopol Station in Alien Isolation. The alien is scary again. Not some kind of monster you can shoot down with a shotgun or a flamethrower, but a massive thing of terror. You can only hide and shiver as you watch the alien hunt you down.
The resemblance between The Creative Assembly’s Alien Isolation and the Ridley Scott’s Alien film doesn’t stop there. The mood, look, music and even sound resemble that of the film. I suggest watching the film before playing the game. You will notice far more details and it will make the game much more interesting to play. I would say more fun, but I don’t think fun is a word that can be used when you are trying not to get killed by a Xenomorph.
Alien Isolation breathes Alien from the start. The game boots with the 20th Century Fox logo and in the main menu you are greeted by an altered version of Alien’s main theme. The game starts with Ripley’s final report of the Nostromo, with which the film ended. In the film it was met with hope, Ripley survived and the alien was gone. She was the last survivor (well together with Jones, her cat), but she won. It’s a different story for Alien Isolation. The horror isn’t over yet, it has only just begun and you are definitely not safe.
The Torrens and Sevastopol Station are full of hallways with puffy white walls alternated by dark industrial corridors with steam coming out of the pipes. There little bird toy is proudly decorating many desks next to the computers that are squeeking and bleeping with screens showing distorted VHS quality videos or green dot-matrix texts and programs. The familiar bleeps of the smaller version of the motion tracker will let you know if the alien, or other moving things, are nearby. The 80’s sci fi technology is all around. It is definitely a nod to the use of props instead of CGI and green screens in the original film. The only way they could accomplish such a high level of resemblance in detail is, because Fox Studios provided a ton of source material, which concluded concept art, set design and costume design that had never been shown before.
Sounds are very important in Alien Isolation and play a big part in creating the tense atmosphere. The Creative Assembly got the license to use the original soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, which they analyzed and expanded to create the music for the game. This way they could create a soundtrack reminiscent of the film that also suited the pace of the game. Many other sounds from Alien are being used throughout the game. When you access a computer terminal, you hear the same sound that was being used when someone accessed a computer in Alien. Many other beeps and rattles from the machines are also directly transferred to Alien Isolation.
Although Alien Isolation uses a lot from the original film, the mood of the game is slightly different. Still very much horrifying, but different. This has to do with the fact that Sevastopol is a far larger place with a lot more people and synthetics walking around. The Xenomorph has more people to kill and places to destroy and in that way the game feels a little bit less lonely and claustrophobic than the film. When I re-watched Alien I noticed how I could never get a clear idea of where the crew was or how the different places were connected. It all felt very disorienting. Playing Alien Isolation delivered a different experience. Although it was just as scary and nerve wrecking as the film, with the alien being the “perfect organism” that it is, I never felt totally lost. Most of the time I had a good feeling of where I was going and where I was supposed to go, especially when I got the motion tracker. That thing is incredibly helpful.
Still, Alien Isolation does a damn good job in recreating the frightening atmosphere of Alien. The look and feel really resembles that of the film and the clever use of details in sound and props makes it all the more interesting to play. There is enough time to look for and listen to all the little details, as you will probably spend most of your time under tables, hiding from the alien.
If you want to take a go at escaping from the alien yourself, you can buy it on Steam for $49,99. If you are not so brave, you can always take a look at my own Youtube channel. I’m doing a Let’s Play of Alien Isolation at the moment.
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/suzanne.jpg”]Suzanne Verras is a freelance writer and a university student from Leiden, The Netherlands. She is a video game enthusiast, but also loves movies and art. She has her own video game, film and art blog called Miss Lily Blogs where she posts all kinds of articles as well as her Let’s Plays. Her favorite games include Bioshock, Myst, Ratchet and Clank and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. In the future she hopes to be writing full-time and one of her dreams is to sell her artwork one day. You can follow her on Twitter: MissLilyTweets. [/author]