Alien: Isolation

alienisolation4.0Its not often  that I comment on videogames on this blog (have I ever?), but certainly in this case there is an obvious film-related element. I’ve been playing this game since its launch on PS4 and have to say its pretty extraordinary- particularly because I’m such a fan of the original ALIEN. Its also the most intense and scary videogame I have ever played, and I’ve been  playing these things since the heyday of the old Atari VCS. Its so intense infact that I’ve only been able to play it in short spells of an hour or so and with gaps of a few days inbetween. Seriously. The damn thing is freaking me out. Its been a few weeks now and I’m hardly a third of the way through (currently on level 5 in the medical area being stalked by the titular character)- I’m absolutely adoring it but treating it with caution. My nerves are frazzled. I talk about it at work and start feeling myself tensing up. Best videogame based on a movie? Most likely.

Maybe I’m playing it differently to many. Some of the reviews were so negative I regretted my pre-order (ALIEN games have a fairly bad history as videogames, to be frank, the best I can remember dating back to the ZX Spectrum) but thank goodness that I didn’t. Games reviewers be damned, this thing is an experience, indeed,  for a fan of ALIEN, this is such a pinch-me-am-I-dreaming experience its almost bizarre. Its everything I ever hoped an ALIEN-based game could be. The art direction, graphics, sound effects and use of the Jerry Goldsmith score is so perfect, so accomplished, it just takes my breath away. Much of the time if I think I’m free from the Alien hunting me or the attention of the Company Androids menacing the station, I just wonder around taking in the experience, almost in a Virtual Reality way (if ever they get one of those VR headset thingies adapted for this game watch out).

They have even modelled the original Nostromo sets for some DLC- I’ve spent all my time with that just wandering around the mess-room and the bridge (oh, thats where Ripley sits! There’s Ash’s workstation!) and the medical bay, like I’m stepping into the movie. It really is extraordinary. In the words of Philip K Dick, I keep asking ‘How is this possible?’Its like being able to walk into Ron Cobb’s production drawings and paintings, starring at the glass cubicles containing the space suits, the magazines scattered around… its quite an achievement. If they had a mode that dropped the Alien and the other characters in which I could just wander around the station exploring its nooks and crannies, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.

Has Ridley Scott seen this, I wonder?

One thought on “Alien: Isolation

  1. It’s really an extraordinary game and I enjoy it quite much myself. While the graphics look really authentic and run amazingly smooth on my 7yrs old PC, it’s the sound design (both score and effects) that captured me fully within the immersion. Playing this thing with wearing headphones at night when everyone’s already gone to bed is a fantastic experiene! I even remembered one situation, where I became aware of some hostile crew members ahead of me, only because of the chattering I’ve heard through the walls. And hearing the Alien stomping through the ceiling vents, coming after you, is really terrifying. I only wish Ripley wouldn’t tear open the locker doors so hard after hiding successfully from enemy threats lol
    Did you experiment with the Alien’s KI already? It’s really interesting to see how it reacts to flares or other sounds of noise. And damn that thing is fast… I think I’ve easily spent 1/3 of my play time hiding in places – which is awesome when you think about it. It’s the greatest praise I could give to a survival game like that.

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