Ok, so let me preface this with a small disclaimer. I am a HUGE fan of both the original “Alien” and Ridley Scott in general. So, when I heard about Alien: Isolation I pretty much threw my pre-order money at the game as quickly as I possibly could. That being said, this blog post was not planned and has been hastily written as a first impression “response” to much of what I’ve read and heard about the game from others.
A bit of quick back story. Steam unlocked the game sometime around 4pm last evening (October 6th, 2014). I rushed home, ate dinner, cleaned dishes, turned off lights, cranked up the volume and sat down to play. Roughly 4 hours later, I sent the following message to a handful of my gamer friends:
4 hrs logged in game, still haven’t even seen the alien, playing on hard because that’s what the game recommends for intended experience, is nothing if not horrendously frustrating and I am beginning to believe absolutely impossible to win.
I then went back to playing the game and ignored all responses until this morning. When I read what my friends had written back, I realized that my comments had been grossly misinterpretted. I won’t go into details, but they were all negative and closely mirrored what I’ve read in some of the negative posts about the game.
So, please allow me to clarify… (I’m looking squarely at you Pickles).
Why did I make comments about how difficult and frustrating the game is and then go back to play another 2 hours? Simply put, because the game is amazing. At just around 9 hours in, I’ve only encountered the xenomorph a handful of times and already I am terrified. I am legitimately afraid of this monster. Already, Alien: Isolation is in contention with the original Resident Evil for what i consider to be my favorite survival horror game of ALL TIME.
Is the game relentless? Yes. Is it brutal? Absolutely. Is Alien: Isolation terrifying? You have no idea…
Alien: Isolation is true SURVIVAL HORROR. Your death is always just one mis-step, one wrong decision, one breath away. Every thing, every situation you encounter in this game could potentially spell your doom. Even the environment seems out to get you. This game HATES you, and wants you dead.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing level, art and sound design in this game. The art direction, level design and graphic quality are easily some the best I have ever seen. The sound design? fucking outrageous. Yes, those footsteps you hear ARE dangerous, HIDE. The Sevastopol literally folds you into its arms and whispers vitriolic and hateful death threats in your ear. It may be beautiful to experience, but the environment is not your friend. Like I said, the game is about survival horror and in that mechanic is where the real brilliance of the experience lies. The design, though amazing, is nothing more than a vessel in which that terror is delivered to you, Amanda Ripley.
Much of what’s been said about Alien: Isolation is spot on. You don’t have a fighting chance. You have barely any resources at your disposal save from a few distraction techniques and clever ways to use the environment. You are not super human and your offensive capabilities are next to nothing. You simply cannot “win” in any situation. You have to be cunning, make the right decisions and sometimes, run and pray you make it to a safe place to hide. Yes, it’s horrendously difficult. The game literally recommends that you play it on the hardest difficulty setting and there is good reason for that. Don’t bother playing it on easy or medium. You are wasting your time. More importantly, you are completely missing the point of the game if you dumb down the difficulty because you think it’s “too difficult!!! wah wah wah” Just go ahead and QQ, Nancy. Go play any of the thousand “designed to make you win” games that developers are pumping out these days. Alien: Isolation is literally designed to KILL YOU. The game’s intent is to make you lose. Your job, is to survive. If you can…
10 out of fucking 10.