San Diego Comic-Con is over (sad face), and it left quite the fearful impression on me. No, it wasn’t because of the never-ending lines or the frustration of not getting any of the exclusive memorabilia. It was because of my encounter with The Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation.
The survival horror title was on display at Comic-Con this past weekend, and it piqued the interest of spectators who were instantly drawn in to watch the countless number of gruesome deaths players encountered at the hands of a stalkerish alien xenomorph.
Before I get into the gritty details of the game, I have to give it up to the incredible booth put together by The Creative Assembly crew. Gamers were led into a giant replica of an alien egg, forced to play the game in complete darkness, while seated on an eerie vibrating chair, and surrounded by a sound system that made every in-game sound thud as loud as your heartbeat. And to top it off, the display featured an external screen that broadcasted your gameplay and fear to the delight of the audience.
Unlike previous iterations of Alien games, which focused on killing various aliens, Isolation focuses on just one xenomorph and your struggles to survive in the midst of its presence. You play as Ripley’s daughter, who’s attempting to make it out of the confrontation in one piece. And while you may have the blood of a legendary badass in you (who will make an appearance in downloadable content), you are still vulnerable and the fear will still flood through your veins as you play the game.
As soon as the crew handed me the controller and enclosed me in the egg, I was rapidly overwhelmed. The demo began with a quick intro of your objective: to survive as you make your way from point A to B. While it appears to be a fairly easy task, the unfamiliar-yet-strangely-familiar atmosphere and alien made it quite arduous, especially for me, who I’ll admit does not do well with horror titles.
I slowly made my way through, trying to figure out what buttons to press, where to move, and what I could pick up. I didn’t get far, actually. Before I opened the latch doors that started a timer, omitting alien sounds that got louder over time and sending my radar in a frenzy. I quickly hid in a locker and stayed in there for a good chunk of time. While the game does have a timer ticking, you can still take your time getting through the level.
It felt a bit like Outlast and I expected to be found and killed, but as I made my way out of the locker and roamed around slowly, I realized that this is a far more horrific experience.
Every misstep you take in this game will most likely result in your doom. You can’t run nor use your flashlight, and have to watch out for the environment around you, as your character’s noises and light changes can alert the alien. In fact, no matter how many times you replay the game, you could make the same moves, but the alien’s movements are never the same, nor are its grisly kill animations.
Despite having a radar on hand, which quickly becomes your best friend, it was actually quite tough to use. When your radar’s up, your view of the surrounding area became blurred. The price you pay for getting a bit of help. While you could use a flamethrower to give yourself some time to run away from the monster, you cannot kill it and your ammo supply is very limited. There are many other items you can use to help deter the alien, but you actually have to find the pieces to craft together.
I remained alive for nearly 5 minutes, hiding in lockers the majority of the time, before I heard the heavy breathing of the Xenomorph and frantically ran into it by accident, accidentally blurring my vision with my radar. Though five minutes may sound very brief, it was definitely longer than many other encounters which lasted mere seconds.
Though brief, the demo was overall a fun time, even with it testing every inch of my patience, stealth abilities, and hiding skills. I’m hoping the full game will deliver the same horrifying experience and provide equally as much entertainment for those watching you play for the duration of the entire title.
If you aren’t hyped enough yet for the game, the cast of the original Alien film had revealed some details of their return in Alien: Isolation in the video below:
Alien: Isolation releases October 7 for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.