Alien: Isolation Review

We'd actually purchased a PlayStation 4 several months ago, right before we moved. Given a lack of any games that we could give two fucks about, it's function beyond a very expensive brick didn't debut until a few weeks ago when I regrettably picked up Alien: Isolation.

The game takes place between the events of Alien and Aliens. You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, as she tries to figure out what the hell happened to her mom. Shit happens before you even get on the ship, and once you do it's a grueling crawl as you try to figure out what the hell is going on and survive.

One thing I love about the game, in theory anyway, is that unlike almost every other game based on the property you aren't running about with a pulse rifle and shooting up the place (even the one's based on Alien 3). No, you're on your own—for the most part—and though you get a pistol early on it's only really useful against people, maybe rogue androids, and fuck-all else.

The overall plot, controls, Last of Us crafing system, and graphics are fine, and the initial pacing is excellent. I love that you don't run into the alien right away. Even after it's first on-screen kill it only shows up in certain sections, though the game is more than happy to show you its victims and have it bang around in the vents above. These parts of the game were the best, because you had no clue if the game was just fucking with you, or if you actually had to be quiet to avoid taking a set of pharyngeal jaws to the brain.

It's when the alien rears it's phallic head and becomes a more prominent fixture that the fun-factor, tension, and sense of horror gets sucked out. Not right after it appears for the first time, where it slowly lowers itself from the ceiling, forcing you to hide beneath a table to evade it's notice. Not even when you have to cross a very lengthy room and hack through a door to escape. No, it's about halfway through Mission 5 that it just becomes so fucking tedious.

The motion sensor allows you to detect the direction and general location of everything moving about, which includes androids, the alien, and presumably humans (though I never found any after I'd gotten it). Given that the alien is invincible and pretty much kills you instantly if it spots you, this is an essential tool to have in the game. The problem is that when the alien is there, it's always there, lumbering about, making noise, and generally just acting like a drunk, abusive stepparent.

You'll go into a hallway, hear the motion sensor beep, check it, see the alien coming, duck back in a room and hide under a table. The alien will invariably come into your room, loudly saunter about, knock shit over, maybe growl, and then leave. After you're "sure" it's gone, you'll get back up, start to leave a—nooope, it's coming back! So you go back in, hunker underneath a table, and wait some more. On at least one occasion I had this happen three times in a row.

Even worse is that the alien will stick to whatever area you're at. It'll run around a specific region until you leave, then it just follows you to the new one as if it's trapped in your plot orbit. I don't feel relief after hacking through a door and getting to a new area, I just try and find the nearest save point.

Oh yeah, the game uses a manual save system, and from what I could tell it's possible to save when a bad guy is nearby. Haven't saved in over half an hour? Whelp, hopefully you don't get randomly killed. Mind you this doesn't add anything to the tension, but the frustrating tedium as you try to save after grabbing some plot key or reaching a certain point because good god you don't want to have to waste more time retreading your steps.

And so, after spending hours leapfrogging from room to locker to table hoping that I didn't just happen to blunder into it—or that it wouldn't just crack open the locker I was in and kill me anyway—and have to reload yet again, I just gave up.

This game would have been much, much better if the alien wasn't obnoxiously ever-present. If you could walk down a hallway for a meaningful length of time hoping that you didn't hear your motion sensor go off, instead of having it constantly nagging at you when the alien skirts the limits of it's range, or more often than not just happens to come barreling at you.

I want to be freaked the fuck out when that thing goes off, not sighing with frustration that I have to go waste more time under a table or in a locker.

Anywho, I picked up Shadows of Mordor a few days ago and am having much more fun with that. Kind of reminds me of Assassin's Creed, except that I'm not running around grabbing flags that some asshole dropped all over town.

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