Fans of Ridley Scott's iconic space horror film Alien have long been waiting for a sequel worthy of being part of the Alien legacy, but countless Alien-inspired games and even Scott's Prometheus prequel have all failed to evoke the same bone-chilling, nerve-wracking experience in the original film. Game publisher Sega puts an end to all that waiting with Alien: Isolation.
Alien: Isolation is by no means a fun game to play. On the contrary, it's a heart-pumping, stress-inducing game that keeps gamers constantly on the watch as they try to survive the gritty, grungy, dangerous space world Scott created 35 years ago. It's not like the sterile, antiseptic, medically perfect future worlds designed for other games. Alien: Isolation is set in the dark and dangerous Sevastapol space station, where anything from a bloodthirsty alien to evil security guards and paranoid human survivors can kill them.
Gamers take on the character of Amanda Ripley, daughter of actress Sigourney Weaver's character Ellen Ripley. Weaver doesn't appear in the main game, which is set 15 years after her disappearance, but she, along with the original cast, comes back onscreen to play the character that made her famous in "Crew Expendable," a bonus downloadable set on the Nostromo spaceship that took on one very murderous hitchhiker.
Amanda, who is on a mission to discover what happened to her mother, works for Weyland-Yutani, the same corporation her mother worked for. She, along with a small team, goes onboard Sevastapol to investigate a black box recorder from Nostromo. But unlike earlier Alien games, this is not a first-person shooter game. It's a cat-and-mouse trap where players find a way to survive against the one xenomorph roaming Sevastopol whose purpose in life is to kill anyone in one, brutal blow.
"There is no magic weapon that will be there to save you," says Alistair Hope, creative lead on the game at developer Creative Assembly. "This is a game about survival, not killing."
Everything about the game reflects Scott's ground-breaking design, from the grungy look to the chilling music, and even to the gritty feel reminiscent of the VHS era. Most of all, the space horror movie experience first introduced by Scott 35 years ago is replicated in the game, as players dodge an artificial intelligence-equipped alien that learns to decipher whatever strategy they implement. In fact, the unpredictability of the alien is part of what makes it horrifying -- something one can rarely find in a movie-licensed game. The alien never behaves in the same manner twice. The only way to win the game is to avoid the No. 1 enemy and all the rest of the bad actors while roaming through the space station.
"What I think is so exciting about creating a game for people is you are able to put the spectator in this world," says Weaver. "The idea of putting you in the movie as it were is interesting. They're not film directors, but they know what we all want, which is to be immersed in this world. It's not a really pleasant world for humans to be in, and it certainly becomes a lot more unpleasant when the alien is in your midst."
Sega, in cooperation with 20th Century Fox, enlisted its subsidiary British game developer Creative Assembly, best known for titles such as Shogun: Total War and Viking: Battle for Asgard, to create Alien: Isolation. The game becomes available on Oct. 7 across all major platforms, including Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.