Although it’s been largely snubbed by AAA publishers of late, the survival horror genre is one that has stubbornly refused to die. Indie games like Slender, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast have proven that there is still a market for gamers who want horror games where the threats can’t be blasted away with a few bullets to the face.
The last game based on the Alien movie franchise, Aliens: Colonial Marines, did not put much stock in the idea of chillingly quiet journeys down dark corridors without any weapons. Quite the opposite, in fact. However, Creative Assembly’s upcoming sci-fi horror Alien: Isolation promises just one lone and frightened protagonist, one unstoppable alien hunting her, and a whole lot of dark and ominous environments to be wandered down and/or crawled through.
Alien: Isolation is the story of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, attempting to track down her mother. The game takes place not too many years after the end of the original Alien, and therefore the development team wanted to avoid anything that looked too shiny, polished or futuristic. As Creative Assembly explain in a new developer diary video, the team members resolved not to include anything in the game that couldn’t have been built as a practical prop by Ridley Scott’s team in the 1970s.
The developer diary makes Alien: Isolation looks reminiscent of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which was stuffed full of homages to retro games and classic sci-fi movies, but the practical way in which the Creative Assembly team went about softening up the footage is pretty creative. The VHS format first become commercially available and popularized during the late 1970s, so for many gamers who grew up during that time, this is how the original Alien would have been watched.
One of the closest comparisons to Aliens: Isolation in the video game sci-fi genre is Dead Space, which was – like Alien – set on a rather clunky, commercial ship designed for mineral mining purposes rather than impressive space battles. In Dead Space, however, Isaac Clarke can fight off the many, many, many necromorphs he encounters with a wide range of different weapons. Alien: Isolation, creative lead Al Hope warns, is “set in a world in which technology won’t save you.”
If that sounds terrifying then try not to worry too much: if push comes to shove you can always bash the alien over the head with the motion tracker. Probably.
Alien: Isolation releases October 7, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.