The survival horror genre has always been a bit of a love/hate thing for gamers. You either sink all of your time into the experience, coming out on the other side a nervous shaking wreck, or, like me, you avoid them at all costs, seeing them more as heart attack risks than as entertainment.
Alien: Isolation joins a recent renaissance of this divisive genre and plunges the player into an atmospheric and terrifying space station occupied by one, sinister alien, looking to hunt you down and kill you. This is not just an alien in the sense of a little green man chasing you around while you hide inside a futuristic carbon fibre wardrobe though. The title Alien, refers to the 1979 Ridley Scott film and the demonic, eight-foot tall, Alien who will chase you through all the iconic scenes from the ’79 classic. Even more reason to run, hide and cry!
The tone of the game has already been set in brief gameplay demos, where shadows flash past the player’s peripheral vision, lights turn off and of course, loud noises to catch you off guard and you flying from your seat. And that is exactly what you want from a survival horror game: vulnerability, fear of the unexpected and a lot of dark.
Unlike hits such as Silent Hill and zombie slayer Resident Evil, Alien: Isolation does not give you a weapon – you are completely defenceless – meaning it is your wits that will keep you alive; nothing else. This echoes the gameplay in recent indie hit Outlast. Equipped with only a night vision camera to see your way around an abandoned hospital, you are forced to hide under beds and behind doors as you are preyed upon. While only a small 4-hour campaign, my brother – and full-time wuss – describes it as ‘s**t your pants scary’! Certainly what fans of fear would want, and something Alien: Isolation has clearly used as an influence.
With Outlast already a cult hit, and Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within heading to consoles in the coming months, it seems that Alien: Isolation is part of the popular crowd, offering another variation on the survival horror genre which is making a glorious return from the dead.