Just about any video game tied in to a film franchise faces unique challenges, but with a brand like Alien, it's a whole other story. With a wide range of shooters set in the world of Ridley Scott's original film, the die-hard cinephiles have longed for a game that pursued the less glamorous, less instantly gratifying, and more gruelingly tense experience, as opposed to its space marine sequel. Enter Alien: Isolation.
The survival horror championed by developer Creative Assembly as 'the game Alien fans always hoped for' came seemingly out of nowhere, with an AI Xenomorph intent on terrifying players, and reminding them that it's always wise to be careful what you wish for. The first reviews for the game have arrived, and it seems to have succeeded in depicting the endless game of cat and mouse fans would hope - for better or worse.
We'll have our own review of the game up after its release, but for now, it seems that the studio's commitment to limiting player strengths and heightening vulnerability has proved divisive. For some, the lengthy escape from the Xenomorph's claws has proved to be too long, or simply too punishing. For others: it's a survival horror game that doesn't come along too often. Read on for yourselves:
OXM (Alex Dale):
"Unique stealth-horror thriller that combines great pacing and smart design with razor-sharp AI that's unpredictable in all the right ways. It's an arduous undertaking, but it begs to be experienced."
Gamespot (Kevin VanOrd):
"It's the endless meandering... that proves troublesome, much of it intended to build tension, but most of it falling victim to a neverending sameness. I say neverending, but in reality, Alien: Isolation limps to its frustrating ending after many hours more than it can support. This is four hours' worth of a great idea stretched into 14-plus hours of messy stealth gameplay, creaky video game cliches, and limp exploration."
Polygon (Arthur Gies):
"In the process of contriving story twists and turns to support this spectacle, Alien: Isolation ruins the unique focus of its premise and moves away from the inspiration of the first film. It becomes something depressingly predictable for fans of the property who have been hurt again and again by underwhelming video game representations."
"Nothing here is done by accident, and this calculating, near sadistic design has crafted something that I call, without hyperbole, one of my favorite horror games ever. Even without this being an Alien game, it's pulled off masterfully, and the fact it does feature my favorite antagonist in all of sci-fi is just a tasty bonus."
Eurogamer (Dan Whitehead):
"A shorter, sharper campaign would condense the high points more potently, and some better characterisation would make the plot twists hit harder. But if you're looking for a game that really sinks its teeth into what makes this iconic movie monster endure, look no further."
PC Gamer (Andy Kelly):
"It's ridiculous that it took the developers of a historical RTS to finally create an authentic Alien game, but The Creative Assembly have... succeeded where countless others have failed by treating Giger's monster with the reverence it deserves: as something to be feared and respected, not faced head-on with a pulse rifle. Isolation is a taut, confident, and electrifying horror game that perfectly captures the essence of Ridley Scott's legendary film. I just wish they'd been braver with the story."
Destructoid (Chris Carter):
"Halfway into playing Alien: Isolation, I stopped to watch the first four Alien movies again. It wasn't just for research purposes, but mostly because the game had me yearning for more of the universe. Isolation has some flaws, but it's faithful to the film series, and I'd love to see a follow-up with a few extra alien evolutions."
GamesRadar (David Houghton):
"If you demand reassurance, telegraphed threats, predictable solutions, and an inherent, hand-holding sense of ‘fairness’, you might find the experience too much to handle. But those of you brave enough--those of you tired of existing video game approximations of survival and horror, and craving a real test of your skills, instincts and nerves--will find a bounty of thrilling, engrossing, profoundly fulfilling rewards. If you truly embrace it, then during its most powerful moments, Alien: Isolation will probably make you feel more alive than a video game has in years."
Game Informer (Jeff Marchiafava):
"Unlike its titular organism, Alien: Isolation is decidedly imperfect. The story falls flat, your objectives lack a sense of accomplishment, and the campaign drags on longer than it should. When the gameplay is at its best, however, Isolation delivers the thrill of being in the Alien universe, something fans like me have waited a long time to properly experience."
IGN (Ryan McCaffrey):
"But by the end of the 15 to 20 (!) hours... I wish I’d stopped after the first half-dozen. That’s not to say Isolation is anywhere near as bad as Colonial Marines, but its crime is equally egregious: it is a great idea that, in practice, not only wears out its welcome, but drags on so long that it almost completely erases any trace of the fun I once had. Which is a whole different form of horror than I was expecting."
Digital Spy (Mark Langshaw):
"It would have been easy to churn out another by-numbers shooter in the vein of James Cameron's Aliens, and thus Creative Assembly should be applauded for talking a different approach and making a gaming experience based around the suspenseful horror of Alien. After years of fumbling with the license, it's refreshing to see Sega finally deliver a game worthy of the Alien branding."
What do you make of the reviews? Will you be adding this to your next-gen collection without hesitation, or do the criticisms give you pause? Sound off in the comments.
Alien: Isolation releases October 7, 2014, and will be available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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