An abandoned space station. A complete lack of weaponry. A single alien threat stalking you at every turn. Those brief details may seem like a perfect description of what made Ridley Scott’s original Alien (1979) a success, but it certainly isn’t the kind of experience that a video game – even one bearing the Aliens name (or especially) – would seek to simulate.
That’s something that the developers of Alien: Isolation are looking to change, by using modern technology to generate a Xenomorph capable of instilling the kind of fear and tension in a player that it did for movie audiences. As the latest trailer shows, that’s a task easier said than done. But if Creative Assembly succeeds in capturing even a fraction of their apparent vision, fans of the original film (and terror in general) have plenty to look forward to.
Ever since the very first announcement trailer for Isolation was released, showing an eerily still space station and the remains of its inhabitants scattered from floor to ceiling, it was clear that the studio would be looking to keep players on the edge of their seats. Since then, the lead designers have pointed to the original Dead Space and Resident Evil as inspiration; two franchises that gained a reputation for keeping players awake at night.
But where those franchises relied on an ever-present threat of droves of viscious, monstrous enemies, Alien: Isolation will be relying on just a single Xenomorph. Apparently, if that was enough for Ridley Scott to deliver a taut story, it’s enough for a video game. But in order to reach the heights of tension they’re aiming for, the design team has crafted an enemy that is “almost sentient.” The latest trailer, ‘Creating The Alien,’ offers a few more details on just how that will look and feel to players.
The video points out that it isn’t the creature’s design or lethality that will make it terrifying to players; simply the fact that it doesn’t behave like a typical AI-guided enemy. Lead artist Jude Bond has previously explained that the distinction between a scripted creature and a systemic one is what the team is counting on to produce Isolation‘s sense of fear and danger:
“Yes, it’s a piece of AI and it has parameters we can tune, but the alien’s network of behaviours is so insanely complicated, the thing is almost sentient. There’s a difference between artificial intelligence, where we know what its parameters and behaviours are at a glance, and it being so sentient we have to dig into the code just to find out why and how it did what it did during our playtests.”
It’s a bold approach, to be sure, but only time will tell if there are good reasons it hasn’t been attempted as often as one might expect. It is certainly offering an experience that fans of the property haven’t gotten in years, but given the checkered past of the Aliens game license, a serious risk. However, Creative Assembly believes that the failure of Colonial Marines made it clear that there is absolutely an audience for Isolation‘s emphasis on suspense, not action.
Few details on the gameplay itself have been released, but what are your hopes for the game? Do videos like these raise your expectations for what the team is after, or have you learned not to get too excited for an Aliens game at this point? Share your thoughts in the comments
Alien: Isolation will release on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC in late 2014.
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