In Alien: Isolation, surviving the deadly and relentless xenomorph is always your first thought. But there are other things that weigh on players' minds which help make the game a tense, gripping experience.
Amanda Ripley is a survivor on the Sevastopol space station, but she's not the only one. In a section in the first half of the game, Ripley encounters a band of armed looters as she makes her way across the station to reach a medical wing. They are another potentially deadly encounter she must avoid. The xenomorph is in the shadows, and having a bunch of other people making noise and possibly attracting the alien won't help her situation. Or will it?
The existence of other humans layers on another A.I. routine that developer Creative Assembly must juggle to ensure the game remains tense and believable. Getting into a firefight with the other survivors could not only get Ripley shot and killed, but the sound could attract the alien. Then again, the alien could take care of the looters for Ripley. And not all of the survivors are hostile. We met a frightened human who threatened us and simply wanted to be left alone. Creative Assembly says that much of the game is not scripted, allowing players to make their own way through situations like this and encounters with the alien.
In general, noise is a big factor. The Sevastopol is like an entity itself; creaking, booming, and shaking. It adds to the fantastic atmosphere and constantly keeps you on edge. Furthermore, while running might seem like the quickest way to avoid danger, it also make a lot of noise that can attract the alien. In one particular situation, Ripley must activate two generators, which not only make noise in their own right, but attract a less-than-friendly synthetic (but some are helpful or neutral, too). The first inclination is to shoot or run from it, but perhaps there's a way to get out of there without making so much noise?
Apart from the alien-attracting ruckus they make, weapons are no safety blanket. Ammo is scarce, and even the iconic flamethrower must be used in short bursts to avoid using up its fuel. Scrap and other found materials can be used to craft items like an IED, whose best use may be in its ability to distract as much as maim. The developer says that players can expect to always be underpowered in some way, even with a weapon in hand. Not what you want to hear when you're trying to survive against a xenomorph and who knows what else.
Alien: Isolation comes out on October 7 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. For more on the game's intentionally anachronistic look, sound, and more of our hands-on impressions, click the highlighted links.