If you are a fan of the 1979 sci-fi/horror film Alien, then you’ll probably love this game. I have loved this series all of my life – it’s such a wonderfully unique film, and it gave us the incredible Ellen Ripley. If you haven’t seen this movie, and I have no idea how you have made it this far in life without that, please, do so now. Definitely do it before continuing to read this post.

Alien: Isolation was released in 2014 on just about every platform at the time (PC, PS3/PS4, XBOX 360/XBOX One) and the events of the game are canon within the Alien universe, taking place 15 years after the original film. As usual, let’s start this post with some mood-setting music from the game – because it does an excellent job of setting the mood.

Gameplay

The game play for this game was interesting. It’s not the type of game that I usually play (I lack great hand-eye coordination, and I don’t like puzzles!) but a good story can always get me interested.

This game is played in first-person, as Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda. She’s finally given the chance to find out what happened to her mother, and so she’s off to the space station Sevastapol for answers. As you’re exploring, you are experiencing the events in first-person, and having a good sound system is incredibly helpful.

For the first half of the game, you’ll actually be avoiding just people and the occasional android you don’t have much to defend yourself. Seriously. I think that the first item I could use as an actual weapon was a wrench.

Although there isn’t much you can use, you aren’t honestly meant to get into combative situations – if you can avoid it. You are somewhat on a rail in this game – you have the freedom to explore in your area, but you really are herded down a specific pathway.

Although you’ll work your way through various puzzles, avoid (or not) people and the androids – the real antagonist is the alien.

The alien can never be defeated. Let me repeat that: You can not kill the alien. I tried. I used a flame thrower on it, I threw pipe bombs at it, I used a shotgun to its face. You can not kill it.

If it catches you, you will die. The best thing you can do is try to avoid it – and don’t let it see you. You can hide under furniture, in lockers, use objects to break the line of sight – but it hunts you always.

Even better – the alien is not really on a set path, and it learns. If you decided to hide in lockers often, then it is going to start checking the lockers. It took me quite some time to get used to this – I tried hiding in things in the beginning, but I eventually learned it was better to keep moving. Putting yourself in a locker means you’re cornering yourself and you have no where to run!

As the alien hunts, it will look for things that make sound, or light – and there are objects that can help with this. My favorite weapon to use was the noisemaker – while it didn’t do any damage to anything, you could throw it across a room or lay it on the ground and use it as a distraction.

Most of the game I spent listening for the alien in the ducts, or footsteps. You are given a motion tracker, and you can use it to try and keep an eye on it, but if you use it when the alien is too close – it will hear it. (Learned that the hard way, too!)

Playing the game isn’t so bad, if you have stronger nerves than I do – you’ll walk around the space station trying to figure out what happened. It is fantastic for jump scares, though!

The controls were pretty simple (until my control began to drift), and it wasn’t difficult to move around – although I did hate how slow Amanda would turn if she was holding something. (I died a lot to this!)

The game forces you across the station several times – often back through an area you had previously cleared. Even though it feels repetitive at times, it does make sense and you’ll often find new areas as you pick up new items along the way. For example, there are a lot of doors you can’t go into until you pick up a plasma or ion torch.

I did become incredibly frustrated with a lot of the games puzzles, however. As I have stated, I really dislike puzzles, and these brought the frustration level to max at times. There were a lot of times where you will need to solve a puzzle to ‘hack’ into a system, or unlock something, and you really aren’t given a lot of instruction on what to do to solve them.

Story

The Alien universe is huge. It spans several movies, novels, comics, short films, and games. There are a lot of pieces of media that are not considered cannon as well, and if you are interested in the full timeline and what other events happen – check out the Alien Universe wiki.

The events of Alien: Isolation take place 15 years after the events within the original Alien film. If you aren’t familiar, Amanda’s mother, Ellen, did not have a great time on board the Nostromo.

No one received closure about what happened on that ship, and Amanda Ripley has been looking for her mother – or to find out what happened to her). A salvage ship – the Anesidora – has apparently found the flight recorder from the Nostromo, and has docked at the Sevestapol station.

Ripley is able to head out to this space station along with Samuels (a synthetic, similar to Ash) and another Weyland-Yutani executive Nina Taylor, and in typical sci-fi/horror fashion, things to terribly wrong while trying to dock.

Taylor is badly injured and Ripley is separated from the group. Not only are the communications in the Sevestapol offline, but the AI controlling the system has gone a bit haywire due top a … containment issue.

After finding her way to getting medical help for Taylor, Ripley also meets up with Marshall Waits, who is essentially in charge of the ship’s security. Waits is able to explain that when the Anesidora found the flight recorder, they were able to backtrack the path to LV-426.

There, they unfortunately met the same fate as the crew of the Nostromo. Henry Marlow, captain of the Anesidora , landed and investigat3ed the ship with his crew, and found the same fossilized alien, and same room full of eggs.

Then Henry’s wife peeked into one of the eggs. A little to close. In return, she got a nice hug to the face! In an excellent breach of protocol, Marlow brings his wife on board the Sevastapol for emergency medical treatment.

We all know what happened from here: one chestburster hatched, and it began a new nest on the ship.

Waits has Marlow imprisoned for this, and while questioning him, you’re able to learn his part of the story so far.

Waits is able to convince Ripley to get the alien into a remote section of the ship in order to eject it into space – not actually a bad plan – but in a twist we all saw coming, the ejection also included Ripley.

The next leg of the journey is to make her way back to Waits to confront him, but before she can make it, Waits and the other survivors are killed by the service androids. Who are on a containment binge.

Samuels, the kindly synthetic who brought Ripley on board, decides he’s going to try to interface with the AI, and get the Working Joe’s to back off, but unfortunately is killed in the process. For his efforts, he is able to open up the pathway for Ripley to make another attempt.

As she makes her way down to the core, she learns that Weyland-Yutani really isn’t trying to keep anyone alive. Priority is to keep the ‘specimen’ alive. Although Ripley tries to tell the system that the alien is no longer aboard due to the previous ejection, it refuses to back off, telling her that the “scheduled reactor scans are unverified.”

What should we find in the reactor? A nest! Eggs. Facehuggers. Full xenomorphs. Everything is terrible and trying to kill her. What do we do when we find a giant nest of killer aliens?

Blow. It. Up.

After this purge, we see not all of the xenomorphs are killed. Ripley manages to get on board the docked Anesidora , where we find even more corporate death warrants: Taylor came to Sevastapol for the alien.

Taylor lets Marlow out of his cell in exchange for the location of LV-426. Seriously, you think after everything she has seen, she would learn what a terrible idea that is! Marlow decides that this can not be in the hands of anyone, and sets the ship to blow up.

At this point, I am firmly Team-Marlow. He clearly knows what’s up, as unfortunate as it is for everyone involved, he’s right.

BUT NO. Taylor in her infinite wisdom, smacks him with a wrench to take him down. She tries to stop the ship from exploding with Ripley, but too late. Taylor is killed.

The explosion knocks the ship out of orbit! As it begins falling, Ripley makes one more attempt to escape on the Torrens. Only to find out that one of the aliens has made it on board.

In a final act, she ejects herself and the alien into space. It looks like a pretty grim for her, floating off into space… when a search light hits her and wakes her up.

Although this is the end of the events within this game, it’s not the end of Amanda’s story. She dies at the age of sixty-six; fifty-six years after her mother goes off to space and two years before her return.

Overall Review

I am going to give this game… 7 our of 10 facehuggers. I love the universe, the continuation of the story, and that Amanda Ripley is as strong and resourceful as her mother.

I dropped the score a bit due to how frustrated I became at times. Sometimes with the puzzles themselves and a lack of instruction for solving them (is it hard to tell me what button to push?) and how unclear the map could be. Nothing made me more frustrated than a goal on a different floor than me!

The story was great, the pacing was good, and the music definitely set the mood.

I did enjoy my play-through, and it has encouraged me to pick up some of the novels! We’ve got more reviews available, and more to come! A compilation of the play-through and various clips are available as well, if you’re interested in how went!

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