'Alien: Isolation' Is a Modern Horror Classic


#1

In space, no one can hear you panic.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/zmmp74/alien-isolation-is-a-modern-horror-classic

#2

What really stuck with me after playing through Isolation the first time was the utter immersion of its sound design. Listening was essential in that game. You learned to distinguish the station’s hull creaking from the thud of the Alien crawling through the air shafts.

Consider the WHOOMP-THUD-hisssss of the Alien dropping out of an open vent and into the room. The point you heard that, you had to instantly be on your guard and keep quiet low, lest the Alien spot you in a matter of seconds. The way you played the game had to suddenly shift into another gear in that moment or else you would die. I was conditioned to the point that if I even dreamed about that sound I would jolt awake.

Yeah, it was super long. Yeah, I don’t care. I was tense for the entirety of my first playthrough and was put in a character’s shoes like no other work of fiction had before. A top five all-time game for me.


#3

This game produced wildly mixed feelings when I played it for the first time earlier this year. It has incredible highs and terrible lows. The sequences involving combat against humans are god awful and have some laughably bad AI, the voice acting is pretty rough, and the campaign really overstays its welcome, but sneaking around the xenonorph made me so deeply uncomfortable and paranoid that I can’t help coming to the conclusion the game is still a success overall just for those parts alone

It’s at its best when it’s unbearably tense, I just wish it focused on producing that feeling more consistently instead of filling a bunch of the game with human/android combat fluff.


#4

I have to agree totally. When it came out I was planning on getting it until I heard its lukewarm reception. Basically everyone said it was too long, too hard, too repetitive. When I finally got around to playing it I felt like I could’ve played another 20 hours I enjoyed it so much.

The game would’ve been great even if it wasn’t Alien branded. But the minute detail that they put into making it truly feel like the Alien universe was the best I have ever seen in a game.

This is the one game I push onto everyone now who hasn’t played it.


#5

My favourite, weird little detail is the console button mapping when you perform certain manual tasks—wrenching a door open, switching on power junctions, operating the cutting torch, etc. Creative Assembly made the effort of having you emulate the force and directions of those actions using the joysticks and triggers.

That, and the rare case of a crafting function that fit with the protagonist’s profession, really immersed me in the role of Amanda Ripley.


#6

Yes the physical turning of a hatch, or cranking the power made it ten times more stressful (and loud.) The game had a great physicality(?) and weight to it, that reminded me of how Killzone 2 was, except this actually felt… good.

Another note about the sound design: immediately after the first cut scene when you wake up in the ship headed to the base, you have to walk through a dark-ass hallway with the creepiest sounding spaceship creaks and moans you can imagine.

The Alien doesn’t even have a chance of appearing here, but I was immediately terrified. And those are the same or similar sounds that happen ALL game. They just made being inside a space station sound dangerous and alien. It’s great.


#7

I’m yet to buy and play A:I but even by the virtue of simply watching some videos I got that feeling of uneasiness. Incredible atmosphere (all the time my heart was accelerated, I was holding my breath and thinking “Fuck me! why is this so effective?” lol).

I’m far from being a huge fan, but I’m with the franchise since I was a todder (the 90’s where weird, growing up with all kinds of fucked up shit that wouldn’t have any place near children nowadays lol) and from all I’ve seem (and hopefully will see as soon as I play the game) this game brings me back to that time. That dangerous curiosity and wonder with the setting, the creature, and the feeling of loneliness but not quite.
Can’t wait to finally play it.


#8

Got this game during the Halloween sale at PSN and I’m having a love/hate relationship, I’ve also followed this franchise since very young and watched all movies, even read the novelization of the original script. This game could very well be the best product out of the franchise released since Aliens, the art direction and sound design are perfect and I loved how they explored and expanded the universe of the first movie, if it wasn’t for the incessant repetition at certain points.

Gameplay is mostly an Outlast kind of thing with you running and hiding from enemies, I’m at mission 5 If I’m not mistaken and so far trying to engage enemies is useless, I was surprised at how innefective the gun was against the synthetics, but at least you can fight them and run away, the Alien on the other hand is a one hit kill unstoppable machine, and since the game has old school save points dying between long stretches means repeating everything again, including cutscenes that even if you can skip become annoying after a few times, and diminish the suspenseful atmosphere the game creates so well.

Still, I recommend it if you’re a fan, I’m not sure if I’ll have the patience to finish it but I’ll try.


#9

I really loved Alien: Isolation for the first few hours. The lead up was incredible, and one thing it did that I loved was before you were even in any danger it made you feel uncomfortable and alone by giving you no guidance at all. When you get out of the sleep pods you’re told to report the the bridge and the game just lets you figure it out. No indicators, no map, nothing. Wander around by yourself until you know where you are. It was such a fantastic touch and it made me feel totally out of my element by depriving me of something I had come to expect.

The problem for me comes later when you’re actually dealing with the alien. At first, it’s tense and terrifying because it’s this huge imposing thing hunting you down and you so carefully navigate everything. I laid out a plan, checked corners, figured out where to hide if I got spotted halfway through the hall, all of it. The first time the alien gets you, it’s shocking and uncomfortable because more than likely it caught you from behind while you were fleeing. You get that sickening clip of being devoured, and need to calm yourself before you try again.

Then it happens again. And again. And again. And again.

My biggest issue with Alien: Isolation is that there is little skill involved with the alien. Sometimes it gets you, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s behavior is too random to be exploited which is exciting at first, but that means sometimes you’re waiting in a closet for over five minutes because the damn thing just won’t leave. More than once I just walked straight into its open jaws to break the monotony of waiting and hoped for a better AI cycle the next time around. Sometimes there are big chase moments where you have to run to escape an explosion or whatever and whoops, you walked under a vent and you’re dead. I lost count of how many times I would hear it leave the area only to have to immediately hop back in to my hiding spot because it popped out of the exact same vent seconds later.

The problem I had with Alien: Isolation is a problem I have with lots of modern horror games. Since the alien is un-beatable and the only consequence of death is retrying from a little earlier on, the alien stops being scary and starts being a nuisance. When I have to retry the same sequence for the third time because the alien spawned right in front of me by chance, I’m no longer terrified but just plain annoyed. Once the illusion of death as a deterrent fades away, then the threat of the thing trying to kill me does to and it just becomes a random hurdle between me and more story.


#10

exactly, if only those gadgets were more useful to distract or stop the Alien for a few seconds at least, it could create opportunities for longer, more exciting chases, but unfortunately it isn’t like that. I’m at the first actual set piece against the alien in the medical floor, I swear one time he was nowhere to be seen and I almost got through the entire thing until I died, on the next try, the thing was everywhere, it was almost like it was teleporting in front of me even If I just saw it leaving in the opposite direction a second ago. It’s tense and fun the first few tries, but becomes frustrating quickly once you realize how random it is.