It’s dark, save for a few streams of light coming from barely-adequate fixtures scattered just thinly enough to allow environmental navigation. Classic survival horror atmosphere oozes from every crevasse of Alien: Isolation. See that flame thrower over yonder? Yeah, it only has enough ammo for maybe 3 seconds of continuous fire. See that locker over there? No, it really doesn’t have anything useful in it, but you sure can hide in it. Oh, and that desk over there? Totally devoid of anything worth picking up, but it makes a great crawlspace to hide under.
Getting the drift? Your clear purpose is to simply survive, and Alien doesn’t disappoint or pull any punches. The environment is used much to the advantage of your otherworldly adversaries. They don’t move with blinding speed or overwhelming ferocity and rage. When you fend one off, it has absolutely no problem retreating back into where it came from and trying again from another angle if it thinks it hears you.
In my rather lengthy play session, I got to drink in the thick, foreboding atmosphere and lovely visuals as I contemplated just ending it all because of how hopeless I felt. If you can imagine being a crew member in one of the old Alien films, I’m sure you’d resonate with my rather dark feelings after being given a chance to wallow in the unspeakable uncertainty and fear that would wrap itself around you upon learning that you’re stuck somewhere with one of these…things.
This title felt very well-crafted, from the atmosphere down to the controls. Encounters are scary, and fighting one off with the limited tools you have felt quite rewarding, albeit unnerving as hell.
“I’ll just go hide in the locker now, ok?
…is the game over, yet?”