Alien: Isolation is still a masterpiece featured

Alien: Isolation is still a masterpiece

Still not played Alien: Isolation…Why the hell not?


I’ll start by telling a story of my favourite moment while playing Alien: Isolation. Assuming the role of Amanda Ripley – daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s iconic Ellen Ripley – I cautiously departed an elevator and silently crept down the hallway towards a flickering light. Approaching the light I hear mumbling of two disgruntled survivors waving theirs guns in the air as they bickered about the monster they had seen into a vent.

I crept past them unnoticed and moved through the steel labyrinth. Suddenly there’s a crash behind me and pops of gunfire ring out throughout Sevastapol station. The music picks up as the screaming and gunfire get’s louder. I scramble to find shelter under a medical bed before the doors spring open and a survivor sprints into the light of the room – Alien close behind. He screams but the Xenophorph’s screech drowns out his cries as it pounces and with a swift burst to his head with it’s serrated tongue, everything goes quiet.

Not long after, the Xenomorph gave me the same treatment.

After my grizzly death animation had played out and I reloaded at my checkpoint, took the same route through the corridors and dove straight under a table I didn’t spot last time round. Better prepared, I waited for the carnage to unfold again… But nothing came to fruition. That’s when I realised that the epic horror scene I had just witnessed wasn’t scripted and I’ll never experience that moment again.

This is just one of the factors that makes Alien: Isolation an absolute masterpiece in survival horror.

Creative Assembly, best known for their work on the Total War series and recently announced Halo Wars 2, have managed to build an incredibly dynamic and organic game that creates it’s own climactic horror scenes through unpredictable AI and gorgeous, authentic visuals.


The first thing you’ll notice is how incredible Alien: Isolation looks. It perfectly captures the dark, claustrophobic lo-fi sci-fi interiors of ships that mimic those of the Nostromo from the first Alien film. Shafts of light beam through metal grates, steam eerily creeps down walls and spreads along the floor. The computers look dated and bulky, with flickering green static filling the screen and the familiar sound of beeps and hard disks spinning up as it’s activated.

Characters also look impressive as they wander through the station of Sevastapol, especially android inhabitants that march towards you with haunting glowing eyes constantly locked onto you.

It’s an extraordinarily atmospheric environment that really pulls you into that world, the attention to detail is phenomenal. Not just in the environment design but the way events within the game unfold in front of you.

My frantic encounter with the Alien should have convinced you, here are a few examples in case not.

One of Alien: Isolation’s strongest traits is how it achieves proper survival horror. It dares to do something different, constantly putting the player on the back foot.

Amanda Ripley’s character is a core reason for this success. Resembling her mother in many ways, Amanda is strong and focused, determined in locating the Nostromo and finding out what happened to her mother, Ellen. While exploring Sevastapol Station, you hear Amanda talk to herself to pluck up the courage through tough situations. She flinches and yelps when objects unexpectedly crash to the floor or when the Alien bursts from the ceiling, adding suspense for the player. She’s not a soldier, either. She’s simply an engineer. The game makes a conscious effort early on to display that Amanda is not a violent character.

Alien Isolation Amanda Ripley

Being an engineer also has a purpose as it allows Amanda to construct make-shift defensive weapons and devices on the fly, enabling her to distract her enemies and avoid shootouts. She’s as vulnerable as any other character on Sevastapol too, and is forced to hide in the shadows for the best chance of survival. Even when wielding a weapon, Alien: Isolation makes you feel inferior as Amanda is often outnumbered by humans or outmatched by androids and of course, the alien.


The Alien itself is a whole different ball game and is to be completely avoided in the early stages as it is impossible to kill. It’s only until you get your hands on a flamethrower when you gain any power and even then you can only temporarily repel the Alien with a fiery burst, scattering it into an air duct.

Apart from a few scripted events, the Alien is unique. It’s an AI that will look for varying ways to hunt you down. It can drop out of a vent at almost any moment, forcing you to dive under the first desk you see. It will even pick up your scent and track you to hiding spots like lockers, where you’ll be prompted to hold your breath as it attempts to sniff you out.

Catching a glimpse of the Alien’s silhouette is a truly terrifying moment (and there’s be a lot of those), as you’re certain to slow things down in order to survive. Rushing will only end up in on of the game’s many gruesome death animations. The Alien’s unpredictability adds suspense to an already tense experience that will constantly keep you on your toes.

Alien Isolation Motion Tracker

Alien: Isolation is a thrilling and unpredictable survival horror experience from start to finish with an extremely impressive AI Alien that never ceases to surprise, amaze and occasionally brown a few trousers. Having finished the game only a few months ago, I already have the urge to tackle it again, maybe even braving the ‘Nightmare’ difficulty.

So if you’re a fan of the original movie and still haven’t played it, go ahead and scare yourself shitless. It’s worth it.


Nigel Norman

Founder of Health Regen and part time Spartan/Witcher/Wasteland Wanderer. You can follow more ramblings on Twitter.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.