Isolation is the latest in a long line of Alien based games that began with the Fox-produced Atari release in 1982. With every addition to the franchise cinematographically, there were follow-ups across many platforms including mobile devices. However, taking a look back at the majority of these releases, nothing remotely stands out as highly memorable. Last year, we experienced Colonial Marines, which was panned by critics as many of the other games have in the past, failing to capture the essence of these films. A project that had been in limbo and a victim of money hungry developer leaders amidst the creation of Borderlands. In the 16-bit days, the experience was understandably limited, but today there is hardly an excuse for a lackluster release. Finally, through Amanda Ripley we play the game we’ve been waiting for and experience the hyper-tense, sweaty environment Ridley Scott thickly conveyed in 1979.
Sega went all out by acquiring authentic sound bits, images, and videos from the original production and successfully re-created a generous and visually pleasing world. Now, if you don’t remember who Amanda Ripley is, she is Ellen Ripley’s daughter seen in James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, but only briefly as an old woman, far exceeding her mother’s age. Ellen, not aging in her cryo-sleep, awakens after her death never answering the questions that end up propelling Amanda into space 42 years prior to the space marines’ introduction. Her destination: The Sevastopol, owned by the Seegson Corporation – a European industry success – thrashed not only by the Xenomorphs, but by the androids providing security onboard. The Weyland-Yutani corporation returns as the antagonist seeking to, again, contain the alien species at all costs. Like Ash and Bishop, we are introduced to Christopher Samuels, the synthetic helper that initially gives Amanda the opportunity to seek the Nostromo’s flight recorder for clues and prolongs her chances at survival.
The Creative Assembly, known for the hit title, Total War, has produced a cat and mouse masterpiece. Ditching the shoot ’em up routine and submerging the gamer into the survival horror realm instead, sneaking and diversion are your allies along with your trusted motion sensor. Featuring gameplay congruent to The Evil Within (2014), Outlast, and Condemned, we are forced to evade, while an incredible force lingers the halls, no secret, the alien that is designed by the aforementioned developers, to hunt you in a non-systematic method keeping the player guessing. This includes recurved legs (a la Alien3) in all its H.R. Geiger glory! However, for our personal defense within The Sevastopol, we get closets we can hide in, but can not remain in for too long because the alien can smell and hear your mistakes. Creating a makeshift noisemaker to throw the hunters off, a flash bang grenade, smoke bomb, flares, and a revolver that is better left untouched is also available. The Androids are equally as menacing, walking around like supernatural slashers stoically ordering you to give yourself in.
The nostalgia is everywhere — the computer displays that gloomily glow in the darkness, the corridors with all those wires messily crawling on the sides like vines, the alarm system that becomes a subtle drone in the background as your ducking under tables and climbing into cabinets. The game succeeds in dishing up jumps and surprises with a pretty darn good story line. Supplementing the gameplay is the ability for it to sense our head motion and sound in the room, something I’ve been a big fan of since Manhunt for the Nintendo 64. Be sure to pick up the “Nostromo Edition” which features the ability to play as Ellen Ripley, Dallas, or Parker in a crew expansion featuring the final moments of the movie in an attempt to isolate the terror onboard.
I give this title 4.5 Cryo-Naps out of 5.