Alien: Isolation review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Creative Assembly
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: 1
Online: No

I honestly thought it would take a lot longer for the Alien franchise to rebound after the mess that was Aliens: Colonial Marines. But Alien: Isolation has certainly done just that, with the developers at Creative Assembly providing a tense, terrifying callback to the original film that franchise fans are sure to enjoy. It also makes for one hell of a stealth-focused horror game, echoing some of the brilliance found in stealth titles like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Alien: Isolation isn?t exactly perfect, but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives here.

Alien: Isolation is meant to be a sequel of sorts to the Ridley Scott classic, picking up after the disastrous events plaguing Ellen Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo. Alien: Isolation focuses instead on Ripley?s daughter Amanda, previously mentioned in the second film, but with a story expanded upon in Alien: Isolation. Amanda, understandably wanting answers regarding the disappearance of her mother years ago, embarks on a quest for answers when the Nostromo?s black box is apparently found. This adventure takes her to the space station Sevastopol, where as you can guess, things go horribly wrong.

Alien Isolation_5While most games featuring the iconic H.R. Giger designed Alien fall more in line with the world James Cameron expanded upon in Aliens, Alien: Isolation certainly feels similar to the vision of the original Ridley Scott film. You?re thrust into Amanda?s first person perspective, given limited tools and offensive capabilities, and are quite vulnerable throughout. The Alien provides an ever-present threat, which can often be heard banging around vents, walls, and ceilings. In fact, the sound design of Alien: Isolation is one of the more remarkable things about the game, in that it can accurately clue you in on where danger lurks, but can also drive home such an overwhelming sense of dread that you?ll often find the need to take a break while playing.

Likewise, the visual design of the game pulls familiar elements from the source material, while building an interesting and legitimately scary backdrop for Amanda to explore. Sevastopol is a bit of a mess when you get to it, and just gets worse as you continue on. It?s a station that was on the verge of an economic collapse, approaching shut down even before a lethal life-form began to roam its halls. And there?s more threats at play than the Alien, giving Amanda little breathing room as she attempts to escape. I?m not entirely in love with the visuals, and think that the character models can look a bit iffy at times, but the art design really does the heavy lifting here. Particularly the environments, which are incredibly detailed and interesting to explore.

Alien Isolation_4As far as noticeable issues, I have very few complaints. The challenge can be a bit high, thanks to the unpredictable nature of the Alien A.I. and the old-school save point system implemented. I played through on Normal, and found certain spots of the game to be frustratingly hard. I don?t necessarily consider this to be bad, but I?d be lying if I didn?t curse the save system more often than praise it. I like the fact that it?s built into the design of Sevastopol, and hearing those distant pings of a nearby save spot can provide incredible relief. But I also would not mind the addition of checkpoints, or a toggle for them at the very least.

As far as technical issues, there?s only one that really stood out. There?s something that goes a little haywire when it comes to cutscenes in Alien: Isolation. This stands out only because everything else in the game seems to run without a hitch, but there is some serious judder going on which feels pretty rough any time the game switches to story mode. This isn?t a cutscene heavy game, but you?ll instantly see what I?m talking about every time you?re taken out of the action to watch something.

Alien Isolation_3That said, these are some pretty minor complaints for an otherwise great game. Not only that, but a great Alien game, which isn?t something I expected to be saying this soon after Colonial Marines. Creative Assembly has done a great job of delivering a game that pays appropriate homage to the original film, while once again breathing life into the franchise. I now have a lot more hope for future Alien-related titles having played through Alien: Isolation, and would certainly urge you to check it out. This was one of the bigger surprises for me so far this year, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Grade: B+