The lights are on
In space, nobody might be able to hear you scream, but we’ve grown accustomed to the sounds of disappointed sighs. Fans of the Alien movies have been burned in the past, most recently by Aliens: Colonial Marines. Developer Creative Assembly is taking a refreshing approach with Alien: Isolation. Rather than mine James Cameron’s space-marine classic Aliens for inspiration, they’re going back to where it all started: Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror film, Alien.
We scratched the game’s surface in an earlier preview, but I’m going to take a deeper dive. I was able to play and watch a demo of Alien: Isolation for several hours, and I walked away confident that this could be the Alien game that actually gets it right. Here are some of the biggest reasons I’d say fans have reason to hold onto hope.
They're using the first film as an inspirationThe differences between Scott’s original movie and Cameron’s 1986 sequel couldn’t be starker. Scott introduced us to the xenomorph, a terrifying creature with a memorable way of making an entrance (this is your cue to clutch at your chest). Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley faced off against the alien monster as her crew dwindled one by one. It was slow-paced and terrifying. Aliens took a completely different approach. Instead of battling a single predatory beast, the film’s squad of United States Colonial Marines battled hundreds of the skittering abominations. It was thrilling in its own right, and it provided a template for games including Doom and Gears of War.
At this point, however, the things that made Aliens so much fun – Hudson’s panicked cries of “Game over, man,” Vasquez’s tough-girl attitude, the overall group dynamic – have been aped so much that they’ve lost much of their novelty. For whatever reason, Alien hasn’t inspired so many copycats, which opens up tremendous opportunities for devs like Creative Assembly.
The most obvious thing I saw was when my demo started was the game’s low-fi approach to technology. The art team was told not to use anything from beyond 1979 as inspiration, and that design mantra permeates everything you see. The game takes place in a place called Sevastapol Station, which features living quarters, shopping areas, medical facilities – the works. The areas I explored were filled with old-school touches, from huge push-button computers and incandescent lights to the way the game’s map UI buzzes and flickers onto the screen like a VHS tape with poor tracking. We don’t see many games using this era as inspiration, and it is an interesting change of pace.
Bug hunter, or bug hunted?You can shelve your dreams of mowing through hordes of xenos. As Amanda Ripley, Ellen’s daughter, you’ve been trained to be an engineer. And unlike another famous video-game space engineer, I wasn’t armed with deadly equipment to help even the odds against the xenomorph. Instead, my mission was to get from point A to point B alive. It was tougher than it might sound.
The first time I played the demo, I wandered through the halls of Sevastapol Station until the xeno reared its ugly domed head. It skulked off down a hallway, and I pulled out my motion tracker to get a bead on it. I did my best to stay behind it, eventually finding a spot of cover. It wandered around for a while, clearly hunting for me. I waited, watching, trying to get a read on its patrol pattern. As it turns out, I probably could have waited all day.
Creative Assembly has built the alien (notice the singular there) to take advantage of its senses. If you run, it’ll hear your footsteps and head toward you. If you make the mistake of peeking out from cover just a bit too far, it’ll notice your head and attack. It can hear the sound of a locker closing, turning what you thought was a temporary refuge into a vertical coffin.
In other words, this alien isn’t the bullet sponge you may have grown accustomed to. Amanda will eventually become armed with weapons and traps (which can be found or crafted), but she’s still far from invulnerable. Creative Assembly says the alien will learn, too. As one example, the creature could pick up on the fact that the silence between magazine reloads indicates that Amanda is temporarily vulnerable and act accordingly.
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YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!YESSSSS!!!!! Thankyou sega!!! After Colonial Marines they want to do us some Justice.
I said that about the last three games, I'm not counting on it. But I'm hopeful...
I think Isaac set the bars that nerds can be deadly when trained in the Marines (after game codex), and I hope that we hear from his crew again.
Now about the game, well....
I'll wait for gameplay to determine if it's the one, until then I'll keep my excitement in check. I like the idea though and drawing inspiration from the film is a plus too.
That honestly sounds terrifying. I'm not into the Alien series, and I'm also not good at survival horror, but I do enjoy watching others play it! Let's just hope youtube doesn't pull anything about it.
Aren't these the same guys that only care about metacritic scores?
This game looks awesome! I can't wait to get my hands on it!
I'll believe it when it's actually released.
This looks interesting, but it seems to me like it could get boring after a while with one enemy in the whole game. Hopefully I'm wrong!
Creative Assembly is a great developer, but they also have alot of teams so hopefully they have the right one for this game.
Don't you do it Jeff. Stop it! Believe me, I want this game not to suck, but here's what I've gathered from the trailer so far:
1. There is almost no gameplay outside of a short clip of using a plasma cutter on a metal box.
2. To date, there's been maybe one good proper Alien(s) game and AVP doesn't count. If history has any value, this game will be OKAY at best. Even OKAY would be an achievement.
3. I strongly hope that this game wasn't a "me too!" after seeing the rise of indie horror genre games. If this game did not come with its own ambitions then it's going to come off as a cheap flat knockoff of better indie titles, but with the Alien name slapped on top. Sega is involved after all. What was the last stellar thing that had their name on it as of late?
...all that said, I'm still hopeful.. dammit Jeff, there you go; giving me hope. Hope is the silent killer! Or maybe that's propane.. I don't recall.
Let's hope that we aren't being lied to again.
Yeah Alien is every bit as good as Aliens and could make a great survival horror game. I will keep my eye on it but I have my reservations.