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Alien: Isolation

By on November 22, 2014

alien-isolation-game-launch-trailer_vpeg.640In space, only your Kinect can hear you scream …

I cannot describe my excitement when I heard that there was going to be an Alien survival horror game – it made perfect sense and looking at some of the footage and hearing some of the reports, it looked like it could actually work. Then the initial reviews came out and my excitement rushed out like air from a balloon with a slow puncture, and now I’m that poor child. Holding a string attached to a flaccid ballon, wondering what went wrong.

When I finally got the game, I started off by spending a lot of time hiding in the cupboards and waiting for the alien to disappear – except it never really disappears. In fact, you’re just waiting for that small interval of time for it to jump in the vent. God it’s so frustrating – and if he hears you? Instadeath. This leads you back to a crappy save point (no automatic checkpoints I’m afraid – for the majority of the game anyway) and taking a minute to wonder if it’s worth you progressing any further that night. A lot of people will give up the game early and I spare a thought for those who just aren’t patient enough to try and outsmart the alien, because it’s essentially like having a stalker – at first it’s exciting, then dangerous, then boring. So lets talk about the alien for a minute.

The alien looks great, the way it moves and prowls around such confined spaces is nothing short of intimidating. When he suddenly appears, or you hear your radar go off, or you hear him in the vents, there is a sense of panic – suddenly you look for the nearest safe place to hide. Now, it’s been said that the alien learns from how you play and if this is true, I didn’t experience it. Usually I’d hide somewhere, lean back and wait for it to pass. Later on in the game when you get access to the flamethrower, it’s enough to scare the alien off for a few moments to keep progressing through the game – and that’s the problem, the alien becomes a constant obstacle to your wish to just get the game over with.

Essentially the game itself is just running around throwing switches and opening doors. The setting never really changes and the story isn’t deep enough to make the gameplay any more satisfying. That isn’t to say that it’s boring – the constant threat of the alien does have a profound affect and the ship itself echoes the first Alien film perfectly, making the initial thrill quite an exciting affair.

There are elements I enjoyed, and certainly the nail-biting tension when the alien appears sometimes makes it seem worth it. However, soon the game wears thin. Having other humans onboard is criminally underused and the annoying synthetics criminally overused – making it for a rather annoying experience. This, mixed with an alien who’s sole purpose is to annoy you means the menial tasks that are set before you, and are continued to be set before you in the 10-12 hours it takes to complete, make for a rather limited game.

The DLC also did not take me long to complete, Last Survivor took me under 5 minutes! To think I was going to get the Game edition for £55 to include both DLC’s shows how nonsensical that is – and also how pre-orders aren’t worth it.

You can also use your Kinect/PS Cam. The idea of using your camera to lean when you’re hiding is ridiculous, and you can even hook up your mic so that you need to be silent in real life or the alien will hear you – in case playing the game isn’t already an annoying enough experience, you have to play it in complete silence as well.

Alien: Isolation isn’t a bad game, it’s just so focused on one thing, that it loses sight on what makes an enjoyable experience, and over 12 hours or so – variety is often key. It looks great and I don’t regret playing it, but unless you love Alien (which I do) and like survival horror (which I do) it wouldn’t be worth your time or money. Great visuals and sound just can’t make up for what is a game so full of hope and yet without any real meat to it’s bones.

Wait for a decent sale or play a friend’s copy on SharePlay but don’t expect the ultimate Alien experience because as okay as this was – the best is yet to come.

Rating: 6/10

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