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E3 2014: Alien: Isolation

Posted on June 12, 2014 AT 12:00pm

Publisher Sega
Developer The Creative Assembly
Platform XB1, PS4, 360, PS3, PC
Release Date 10.07.2014
You can read the rest of our Opinionated Guide to E3 2014 or head to our E3 hub for even more coverage.

The Rundown

Ridley Scott’s Alien needs no introduction, of course, and anyone unfamiliar with The Creative Assembly’s saner shot at adapting this sci-fi horror film into game form over what’s come before need only know this: One Ripley, alone and relatively unarmed on a space station, squaring off against one Alien.

The Verdict

Their Alien is scary.

Their Alien is scary in such a way that even outside the context of the main narrative, while playing alternate modes meant to challenge players in more blatantly game-y ways—in this case, a survival speed-run mode—one that resulted in quick, repeated deaths for me, the tension is still dialed up. Way up. Dropped in some dark-draped corner of the space station Sevastopol and told to survive and get out fast, this challenge mode certainly sounds straightforward. Of course, with an eight-foot Alien on the prowl ready to eviscerate you at a moment’s notice, it’s not exactly a race to the finish. Conscious awareness of sound and a constant vigilance over shadows requires you to hustle while hunkered down half the time. Still new to the controls, my first run saw me slashed to pieces within seconds of stepping outside the first door, having lit a flare while fumbling to pull out my motion tracker. The next two attempts were more substantive, however, complete with last-minute dives into lockers and agonizingly long, lung-bursting moments holding both Ripley’s breath and my own in concert while the Alien sniffed about on the other side of the metal enclosure.

I wasn’t able to best the acid-blooded beastie in the 15 or so minutes I let myself try, but despite repeated deaths, I never once stopped fearing it. Worse yet, I feared over its unseen presence. Every corner turned sent eyes left to right and back again, scanning the shadows for some faint sign of its hulking form lurking toward me. It’s this that convinces me The Creative Assembly’s figured out, to the best success modern technology and game design can allow. If by bringing life to an entity once portrayed by a very tall, very lithe man in a rubber suit The Creative Assembly can duplicate the same empathized dread I felt while watching Sigourney Weaver survive aboard the technologically crippled corridors of the Nostromo and its quaint, antiquated late-70’s design, then surely they’ve tapped into something, if only just a little, of what’s at the heart of horror beyond jumps cares and unsettling imagery.

Chris Holzworth, News Editor
Chris Holzworth has wanted to write about games all his life. He first cut his teeth writing for enthusiast sites such as RPGFan, and after writing for just about every other enthusiast website he could came across, wound up as EGM's east coast news correspondent (read: editorial intern, a fancy phrase for "slave") before relocating to LA to serve as news editor. [Meet the rest of the crew]

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