Alien: Isolation Review

Alien: Isolation seems to be a game that most critics don’t’ get, while fans are crying out for more.  The rub of course is in the removal of your more standardized space marine abilities in favor of only being capable of scurrying away like a small, mostly defenseless mammal.  In most scenarios, this means treating the metal innards of a space station gone haywire like your own personal rabbit’s nest and the worst part is, the “wolf” hunting you is a classic Xenomorph a la’ Ridley Scott’s original “Alien” film.  Oh yeah, didn’t we also mention that this is perhaps one of the more believable, fun and well-executed games-based-on-a-movie franchise type deals?  That certainly makes a difference, doesn’t it?

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The fact of the matter is that people have been asking for a game like Alien: Isolation to come along for quite some time now.  In truth, it’s actually surprising that it’s taken this long to find its way to market.  Nevertheless, some things are worth the wait, especially if you’re a big fan of the trademark spookiness / creepiness inherent in the designs of H.R. Giger (which really made the film(s) into what they were, if you think about it).   Anyway, that sort of feel is here too, in this game, and the fact that you absolutely must slink away when you see one of the monsters pounding down a hallway in order to stay alive somehow makes everything all the more rewarding.

Visually speaking, Alien: Isolation is a good-looking title; it hits all the right points at the right time and features plenty of polish and detail.  Some have even taken to doing Oculus Rift hacks in order to experience the game first-hand, as if you were actually there.  Why in the world would someone want to subject themselves to that, you ask?  Well, horror fans are a special breed of gamer – those with the desire and courage to see and experience new things…stuff on the fringes.  While Alien: Isolation certainly seems fresh, it does rely on established clichés a bit (but again, not to its detriment).  What you’re left with is a tight, polished package that delivers on its survival horror promises (in space and in the midst of somewhat familiar surroundings, no less).

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Atmosphere and overall design round out the game’s other strong attributes, with it providing just enough bait to tantalize you into moving too early.  This of course also implies being trounced by a Xenomorph and summarily dying, each time you’re scrambling to get away.  Tense doesn’t really even come close to describing the general feel of this title’s ambiance; Petrifying might be a more appropriate word.  Nevertheless, anyone who gets off on the idea of playing perpetual cat and mouse with a space-bred killing/ usurping machine couldn’t be better served.

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It’s refreshing to see a bona-fide horror game include some satisfying stealth mechanics too.   Considering that the AI is designed to “learn” or “study” your effect on the environment, things become even more insane as you progress through to the later levels.  All in all, this is a really awesome survival horror game that PlayStation 4 –owning fans of the genre should definitely check out.

Rating - 7.9

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