Alien Isolation is a new survival horror game published by Sega and developed by Creative Assembly. I have seen all the Alien films but I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a fan of them, although I do enjoy watching them. I just don’t follow all the alien lore as closely as a fan would. But Alien Isolation became a game that I was quite interested in checking out this year after seeing and watching a lot of the trailers and after hearing what the developers had to say about it, I started paying attention. Being a game that was being developed by Creative Assembly which has made some of my favourite games, including the Total War series of games I started thinking there might be something quality coming our way with this new Alien game.
Alien Isolation PS4 Review
So I ventured to the store on the first day it was released and picked up Alien Isolation right off the shelf and happily strolled home to check out the game. I popped the game in and put it on the hardest setting which the game tells you is the best way to play and away I went.
One of the things that really stood out for me with Alien Isolation was the graphics and the environment within the game. The developers really put in a lot of work into the details, being a franchise from the 80’s a lot of the equipment and panels looks like futuristic 80’s technology and I like that a lot. Alien Isolation does a phenomenal job with bringing the player into its world and the attention to detail can convince you that this is a realistic and believable world to be in. It’s important for games to do this and probably even more so for survival horror games because if you can feel like you are a part of that world you are playing in then the experience overall is much more immersive.
Alien Isolation follows the story of Amanda Ripley who docks at the Sevestapol Station which is a station owned by the Seegson Corporation. There’s a flight recorder on there which Amanda needs to get as she’s been looking for it for some time. What she doesn’t know however is that the station is in anarchy, humans are killing each other, androids are running the place and uh oh, there’s an Alien on board…. It gets pretty crazy quite quickly and the game wastes no time, you will be struggling to survive the whole way through.
Alien Isolation was a great joy to play because what it does well is make you feel isolated. There’s no one on that station coming to help you and you get this feeling of paranoia because the Alien is constantly hunting you. In the game you have this device which detects motion, turn it on and have a look and it shows dots on the screen letting you know where things are moving around. If the Alien is near, you’ll know it’s there, but sometimes it doesn’t come out. Sometimes it’s just far away enough to be there and it makes you paranoid about if it’s going to come at you through the vent at any time. Especially if you’re in an exposed area with nowhere to hide.
The Alien is actually done very well in this game. It comes out constantly to hunt you and will definitely come running if it hears you making noise or running around like a fool through a level. It’s very much you crawling around and being careful. The AI of the alien is quite good and many times I had thought that I had eluded the Alien, yet it found where I was anyway. You can see in the video below one of the times I got caught, I was so surprised when it came up behind me and grabbed me, it’s moments like this that make the game so fun, but yet so punishing at the same time.
Alien Isolation Gameplay – Getting Caught!
The game did a good job at keeping you under powered enough that you can’t go in running and gunning everything down. Guns are useless against the Alien, but you’ll often have flares or noise makers or Molotov cocktails you can throw at it to keep it busy while you sneak past, the Alien hates fire and you can use that to scare it away sometimes although it doesn’t always work, the Alien is smart like that.
But you don’t have an unlimited supply of items and often times you might not have any, you will actually have to craft them and make them out of junk you find around the ship. Sort of like how you would if you were playing The Last Of Us. The crafting system in Alien Isolation is alright but it’s not as well executed or as interesting as in The Last Of Us and I kind of wish there were more items to craft. It’s got these weird symbols and it’s a bit confusing to look at. Also the things I collected didn’t really mean much in the game, I just picked up everything and most of the time had enough to craft what I wanted. I felt like there needed to be more realistic item pickups that you could find around the ship, countless times I just picked up scrap, which could be anything really and it would be better if the actual components were picked up around the ship that meant something for what I was crafting. Seeing the word “scrap” there is kind of bit lazy I think. There’s also these name tags you can collect which don’t do much at all and they just have a picture of different people from the ship you’re on, although there is a trophy for them, but that’s it.
The Alien isn’t the only enemy to watch out for though there are also the humans who are still remaining on the ship which are so desperate to survive and so paranoid that they will likely kill you. There are also androids known as “Working Joe’s” which can be both passive or hostile towards you depending on their setting. Both humans and androids can be killed but the Working Joe’s are particularly difficult and firing your gun may attract the Alien so you gotta be careful!
The level design in Alien Isolation is very well thought through, I felt like I was going through a maze of paranoia at times and some of the levels took me multiple goes to even complete. Survival horror games are always at their best when you don’t really know the environment you are in, I don’t know what’s around the corner or through a door and while the map can tell you the layout, I still didn’t know where anything was. It’s the feeling of being lost that makes a game scary because that’s when you are at your most vulnerable to attack.Add this with the Alien or whatever else is hunting you and stress levels can be high. But that’s what I loved about the game. I’ve been getting so bored lately with games that just let you fly through levels and keep you alive the whole way through, it’s so fun to have something that is actually a challenge to get through and for some reason in gaming that is becoming rare and I wish it wasn’t. The manual save points are a blessing in the game, it makes you think about what you are doing and how you’ll go about it, if you do this you won’t repeat a level so much. But it’s those who rush through things that get caught out by the Alien, it’s a game for the patient.
Alien Isolation Gameplay – Find Doctor Morley’s keycard mission on hard mode
On top of the level design I also appreciated all the little things you could see on desks, or on the floors or on counters or even the graffiti on the walls. Having all these items littered around the ship I think just adds a bit more to the atmosphere. It’s also surprising, but it seems toys that bobble must have been high sales items as they were everywhere! All these little items littered around the ship contributed to the art style and helped create the appearance of a well made and carefully crafted game.
The sound in the game is also worth a mention and I believe was well put together. When you’re hiding in a vent or in a locker or even in a box and the Alien walks by with its feet stomping and the music playing it gets scary. At any moment it might grab you and the music does add a lot to the atmosphere whether it be when you’re hiding or exploring or out in space. It’s all quite good. If you’d like to see a video on the sound there is one right here.
The game however is not without its flaws. One of the main things that took me out of the world in Alien Isolation was that often times in-game when characters are talking to you, their lips are completely out of sync with what they are saying. It’s like their mouth is moving and the audio is just being played over it, doesn’t look like any attempt was made to sync it together at all and that’s a real shame. It’s not good I think because it shows you straight away that nothing is real there in that character and it really takes away from the carefully designed environments and the atmosphere. I know that the game is on previous generation systems, but really for next-gen and it’s almost a year already, I would expect lip syncing to be handled better by now.
The story in the game is a bit of a let down as well in some parts. While most of the game is gameplay focused and that is all great as far as gameplay is concerned. Often times I would complete a difficult level or even when finishing the game and I would be rewarded with a fairly average and very short cut scene, none of which really contained much in there. I felt because of the lack of cutscenes or by having them too short, the game lacked a bit of context between each level, sometimes all my instructions and motivations for my character were just told to me by voice over the radio and I became lost at times wondering why am I going to this part of the ship again? Who’s this character I’m trying to find? Things like that.
As well as this, the ending is a bit unsatisfying which is kind of disappointing to me because the game feels quite long by the time you get to the end. While I do really enjoy the gameplay with the alien for some reason by chapter 15-16 out of the 18 chapters it starts to feel repetitive. I thought about this for a long time and don’t really know why it gets boring at that time, but I feel it’s because by then I seem to know the Alien quite well. I know where it could come out, what kind of noise it makes when it does, how to distract it, how to fend it off and really I know how to survive against it by now and I’m sick of that damn Alien. It just gets a bit annoying and there’s not anything really that can be done unfortunately. It sort of makes the Alien the games biggest strength and in the end the biggest weakness. In the final stretch of the game, all it really needed for it to be a masterpiece in my view was something that you felt was a step up in a challenge or something that was slightly more awesome, but instead it’s just the same Alien you’ve been evading from level 2 and that’s just how it is.
There is also the challenge modes and the DLC. The DLC which I have is the Crew Expendables and it lets you choose a character from the original film to play as such as Parker, Dallas or Ellen. Once chosen you go through a series of missions to try to contain the Alien which has gotten into the ship. It’s quite good and it’s also a bit difficult in some sections. The challenge mode is kind of disappointing though as there is only one challenge map in there and once you’re done with that there isn’t much to do with it, unless you want to try to go for the insane world record completion times.
I am quite impressed with the game overall though. As a game in the Alien series of games I would have to say that this must be a masterpiece. It’s well designed, it’s actually quite scary and it’s long enough that you get more than your dollars worth for the game. I was happy with the game all the way through and even though it does have a few flaws and shortcomings which stop it from being a true masterpiece, as a standalone game it’s quite good. Alien Isolation’s atmosphere and the sense of paranoia you get when playing through Alien Isolation make it quite scary at times and it’s a joy to play.