One of the things I love more than anything is when a horror game is done right, because I see a lot of them that have their moments, but don’t actually make me panic. Alien: Isolation is incredibly different from that, in fact it’s almost in a league of its own. Alien: Isolation is a survival horror video game that takes place in the universe of the alien movies that came out in the 80’s, and you play as Amanda Ripley, (who is the daughter of Ellen Ripley) as you try to find out what exactly happened to your mother by going on to Sevastopol Station, which holds the flight recorder that your mother left behind.
If you have played other games in the “Alien” franchise, you would know that most of the games are very much action oriented, as well as a bit more straightforward. This game is not that, sure it’s still on the linear side, but what horror games aren’t? The game has action, but it places its emphasis on stealth and survival, requiring you to outwit the alien.
Now that the basis of everything has been laid out, lets get deeper into this game. What makes it a good game, and best of all, what makes it a good horror game? First off, what makes it feel like a good game, is when you complete an objective, you feel like you have actually accomplished something, and you feel like you just went through what Ripley just went through, and the game is also difficult, but not so difficult that it leans into the unfair territory. The game also includes an interesting system of using scraps scattered around your environment and creating distractions for your enemies, which is fun. That’s another thing that makes this game good: it’s fun. It’s fun to make things, and it’s fun to outsmart your enemies.
What makes this game a good horror game? Nowadays, to make things scary, just use a lot of jumpscares, and paranormal occurrences, and you’ll be rolling in money, but the horror of this game is in the anticipation, and the almost claustrophobic feel you get from being trapped in these tight hallways while an alien is following you. The greatest factor that makes it a good horror game to me is the fact that you are basically powerless, you can’t kill the alien, the androids you encounter can and will overpower you incredibly easily if you let them, and the other survivors are less than kind to you, and while you can kill the androids and the human survivors with gunfire, the loud noise of the gunfire will inevitably attract the alien to your location (even if it’s not near the room you’re in).
For as much as I enjoy this games, I can admit when things I like have problems, such as the biggest issue of this game: the pacing. The pacing of this game can be ridiculous, you can be trapped in a room with the alien, which is as exhilarating as being on an intense roller coaster, to an abandoned part of the ship which you don’t need to be sneaky at all, and any enemies you find can be disposed of with your firearms easily, at these points the game is a tad on the boring side, because you don’t really feel like you’re accomplishing much of anything, and getting rid of the enemies isn’t as fun because there isn’t a need to be stealthy, because you won’t attract the alien. There are also times when your objective is very vague, sure, you have a guide to get there, but once you get there the guide will vanish and you need to figure it out for yourself, now that isn’t a bad thing in of itself, just sometimes your objective is a tiny button, or item that are incredibly hard to find, especially when the alien is chasing you, and that is what makes it bad to me.
All in all, I think this game is a fantastic horror game. I say horror game because if you don’t like being scared or anything like that, you will probably not like this game, but if you’re like me and like creepy, eerie, survival horror action games, or if you just like the Alien franchise, then I would definitely recommend this game. From me, Alien Isolation gets a 9/10.
Alien Isolation is available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, as well as Windows, Mac OS X, as well as Linux.