Why it's on the list: I love Alien (you might be able to tell). Heard this game was scary.
How I played it: Xbox One, on a disc given to me as a Christmas present.
When I played it: In the dead of night during the first couple of months of 2017.
How far I got:
- I feel like I played forever, but I only got up to Mission 6 (out of 19!!!)
- 165/1000 Achievement Points
What I thought:
The main thing Alien: Isolation has going for it is its use of the universe. Everything looks so incredibly Alien-esque - from the dark industrial-style hallways to the 70s CRT screens. The game looks awesome, especially in the dark. It has the best use of lighting I've ever seen in a game, which builds up this incredibly tense atmosphere. There is the occasional amazing moment - like when you see drool coming out of a vent and just know the Alien is there (this can happen in missions where the Alien isn't scripted to show up, which is awesome).
This game is genuinely scary, at least to me, and the tension when you're getting stalked by the Alien is fantastic - at first. But it feels too random. The Alien is unpredictable, which is great for the canon - it should be an unknowable animal. For gameplay, though, not so much - this becomes very frustrating when you're trying to get past it. With the other enemies, it's possible to learn their patterns and stealth around them (and even they can give you a good fright every now and then), but you never know when the Alien is going to turn on a dime and come rushing back at you. Sections become nigh-on infuriating when you've tried them a few times, and not in a good Super Meat Boy kind of way. This artificially extends the playtime by way too much. I notched the difficulty down after getting a bit fed up on Mission 5, and still had the same issues, so in the end, I gave up.
Another interesting thing about the game is its story. You play as Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda, in search of her mother. I kind of like this way of connecting to the other stories, although it does make Ripley Prime's relationship to the Aliens seem less... special? Then again, I guess all of the Alien expanded universe stuff has this effect to some degree, up to and including Alien: Covenant. But Amanda is a cool protagonist, so it's all good. I didn't play enough to judge the rest of the story, but I hear it takes some interesting turns. The nuts and bolts of it, where I was at, seemed kind of drab and fetch-quest-y, punctuated by the Alien showing up and killing a character every now and then (always a fun time).
If the game was maybe half as long as it is and the Alien sections were less goddamn frustrating, I think Alien: Isolation would be a pretty great game. I still recommend Alien fans give it a whirl, at least; the experience of getting stalked by the eponymous creature in the dark is too good not to try once. As annoying as it can get, it's still probably the best Alien game.