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Published on June 23rd, 2014 | by Corey Milne

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Excited for Alien: Isolation… And I Shouldn’t Be

You know, we Alien fans are almost as bad as Sonic fans. We get burned time and time again with games featuring everyone’s favourite xenomorphs, but no matter how many times we’re blown out of an airlock we think to ourselves, “next time will be better.” We refuse to report our abusive partner to the authorities, in a vain hope that they will one day change. It loved me once, that has to count for something, right?

So yes, I am quite excited for Alien Isolation. Even though Colonial Marines put me in traction (maybe the game just burst through your chest- editor).

I have dampened my enthusiasm with cautiousness, and reports about the game have so far been split. Some have described it as a nail biting trip into bowel tightening terror, while others aren’t convinced it can maintain the scare factor. It’s a valid criticism to assume death by the Alien may devolve into a frustrating obstacle that needs to be overcome. Here’s hoping the audio, design and AI are up to the task of ensuring we end up jumping at our own shadows.

The game may have one ace up its sleeve that could give it the edge which past titles have lacked: Oculus Rift.

I think it’s worth remembering that Alien was unlike anything that had come before it when the film hit screens in 1979. We might laugh at the stories of people throwing up in cinemas when they witnessed the chest burster scene for the first time, but the importance of Alien cannot be understated. I’m willing to bet that for a lot of people of my generation, Alien was one of those movies you saw before you were old enough, and it left a permanent mark.

Alien Isolation 2

Those marks have healed over the years. Thanks to disasters like Resurrection or Colonial Marines, the once menacing xenomorph has been relegated to a state of ridicule and cliche. Aliens: Colonial Marines was perhaps the blackest mark delivered to the franchise. The Aliens were neutered, any reverence for the licence was shown to be thoroughly shat upon, and it tried to assure us that human enemies were really fun to fight with stilted controls.

Yet the Rift could offer us a window of opportunity to be be transported back to a time when the xeno was frightening. It could reawaken the fear of things scrabbling in the dark. Of the single, unimaginable foe which you have no hope of defeating. You can only run. You can only hide. The neighbours will probably hear you scream. The pulse rifles, space marines and paper thin characters replaced by just you and it. That’s an exciting premise right?

Then again human enemies will also make an appearance, so what do I know? I’m probably just pissing in the wind.

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About the Author

Corey Milne has been into video games ever since he went on an adventure with a bandicoot. Other interests include history, science fiction and Judge Dredd. An Irishman living in Scotland, he is attempting to make a living from writing to justify his masters degree. He can be found cradling a Guinness on Twitter @Corey_Milne



  • Wolf

    Here is to hoping its good. I can relate to the ‘too young to see it’ initial Alien(s) experience.
    I’m curious if Video Games in general are a difficult medium for Aliens. Think about balancing fun game play, with mass mark appeal, but also the experience that we want to come with the Aliens genre.
    At least personally, I want Marines vs. Aliens , but it should be a very one-sided affair, literally think the Aliens movie, before Ripply turns into Rambo. That said, I can imagine a very frustrating game that is too difficult to be fun.

    • Corey Milne

      Perhaps there is a sense that to do “Alien” properly you would have to make a game that is not fun to play. It could work, not all games are fun, especially within the horror genre. I wouldn’t classify playing Silent Hill 2 or Fatal Frame as fun, but they remain very popular, to give 2 examples. The frustration seems to come from the fact that as an enemy, the alien is just too good. There’s no in between. You either live or die (very quickly) and that can limit the whole experience.

      • Chris Scott

        I’m hoping that Alien: Isolation is something like Outlast, which isn’t necessarily “fun” to play but offers up a thrilling (if somewhat linear) experience. The atmosphere in Outlast is genuinely unnerving and at times quite scary and that is what I want from Alien.

        I think the problem with the Aliens games is that you are given a gun and thrown against hordes of aliens but instead of balancing the game in a direction that has you always on the defensive, they allow you to go on the offensive and it doesn’t feel right, neither as an Aliens experience or as a shooter.

        • Wolf

          Not to mention when they bring in the Predators!
          In any case, the design by committee, or mass market approach, both have failed the community. Time to try something different.

  • SiNGH

    “…pissing in the wind”

    Phrased perfectly

    I know how you feel. Not just games, but cinema too has been letting me down all my life.

    (Not just the aliens franchise, but Predator, Terminator?, X-Men?, , everything for that matter)

    o_O

    • Corey Milne

      I feel like the X-Men franchise has fared better than most, but I agree that all of the old established names are a bit lackluster these days. But they gave me Dredd, so I don’t need anything else!

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