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Alien: Isolation

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The only bits that I felt were fat or unnecessary were the:

Bit where you go on the blokes ship, which is just a weird non-sequitur involving walking about, one enemy and a gratuitous escape sequence (also Marco was right in that blowing everything up is the correct answer and I don't even know what they were doing with the plot with this)

And the bit where you get captured and escape near the end and escape over the train tracks, purely because it's already sufficiently at a time-desperate climax and it was just a bit gratuitous, if thankfully brief.

They did that stuff at the end because they must have known, as Errant Signal says in his review, that their core mechanics just weren't compelling enough or able to deliver variety well enough to be able to allow them to build to an exciting finish, a finish that didn't consist of seeing the same thing you'd seen already 100 times.

They even briefly threw out the core premise of the game because they knew they couldn't do more with their slight mechanics. Pretty telling.

Which is, y'know, one of my issues with the game. It's stretching out its mechanics awfully thin over the play time.

It also has to be said that there is really no development for Amanda and that there is close to ZERO payoff for the reason she has come to the station. The little clip and her non-reaction to it is almost laughable. They didn't know what to do with the characters and aspects of the story. I really liked the voice performance of Amanda though.

Again, Errant Signal's review nails those problems. But I like him still feel it's a really good game and experience.

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I think that Errant Signal video is one of the less perceptive ones they've done. The gameplay stuff is subjective, I suppose - I didn't feel that the core mechanics were overstretched at all and thought the game was paced perfectly up until the last two chapters pretty much - but where the ES video really falls over is that they correctly identify the thematic stuff going on with Seegson and decline of the station and the working-class-future thing that the game has going on (and borrows from the film), but then ascribes this to an accident rather than the creators' intent, which goes beyond being uncharitable into willful denial of the most basic intentions of the writers and designers of the game. "I doubt that any of this is intentional" is the direct quote from it, after a very accurate assessment of the themes of the game. :lol:

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Well, by the end I was getting a little (note that word, it was a mild irritation) sick of pressing the same buttons to open doors, doing the same overly simplistic 'puzzles'* and running through the same combat scenarios. It could have done with a tad of variety to pep it up a bit. And the Alien is actually a bit too predictable once you get a handle on it. I would have preferred they put some more 'wildcard' options into its programming.

There's a bit near the end (in the dark crew recreation area) where it jumps through a hole in a window and clambers over a piece of scenery in front of you. It's surprising, because it has never done this before, and it's well animated. It's an exciting little moment because it's not part of the playbook, which I appreciate is ironic given its non dynamic nature. It's scripted of course but the point is that I would have liked more surprises and variety.

Some of the ideas I have around a system whereby you can briefly lock the alien briefly in rooms (having it slam on the doors and bulge them out ala Aliens/the EU) by sealing the doors, blocking off paths with lit gas leaks and so on (as well as the above) would have done that.

I was surprised that there were no sequences like that. Sometimes I really expected or wanted just some more scary or horror beats. The alien suddenly appearing at a viewport. They could have got some excellent jump scares out of the scenario, let alone more creepy stuff. There were bits where I was like 'this would be an awesome time for a scary thing'' but I always left hanging.

A good example that actually is in the game is the bit where

you go through the Working Joe showroom. The whole thing - them standing still, some peeling off to attack you, the sudden violent banging on the door (which made me jump), them crashing through and the panic-inducing pile on outside.

That was a great sequence. I loved that bit. Creepy, then unnerving, then creepy again and then exciting.

They also missed a trick with not doing anything with the acid blood. Or not having an awesome explosive decompression bit, something which I feel should BE LAW for all games set in space. I kept begging the game to throw one at me.

It's a bit of a shame to me to me that alien becomes really predictable to the point of encounters veering dangerously towards 'routine'. As I got to the halfway point I wanted to be surprised, really. One of the big issues there is that it's often very obvious when you're in 'safe' sections. A little more uncertainty would have gone a long way I think.

But that's always going to be the core problem with a singular enemy that largely has the same patterns - you can't get the variety of chills (scare wise) and thrills (gameplay wise) that you could do with different enemies that do different things. That said, I don't want to over-egg the pudding too much on this point: the alien encounters were never less than riveting.

Believe me, you pay attention to that shit. I say all this but it's still an extremely scary game and my heart was in my mouth most of the time.

*I wouldn't have minded some minded some of the computer starting ones to be more complex. I would have also not have minded some environmental puzzles or more engineering stuff.

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I sort of agree with that, but I forgive it because Alien.

Hey man I think it's a very good game. I really, really enjoyed it. They deserve props for a lot of things including the alien (with a caveat or two), the save system (which is perfect and essential), the level of challenge, the aesthetics, the atmosphere and the great soundwork.

It's definitely not something I'm ragging on here. I mostly write this sort of stuff about games I actually care about a lot. Either that or games I loathe, and this is absolutely not one of those.

I had another thought recently too. I don't know if anyone else agrees but I'd be surprised if these guys weren't big fans of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Super intense first person horror with a patrolling, AI-driven monster that you can't kill, where the only strategy is to run and hide?

I've not played Amnesia but I did wonder about that. Not a bad thing of course, I just wondered if they were influenced by it. It would fit right in with the development period. I wonder if playing that was the seed of an idea for an Alien game that would be compelling.

Anyway, these criticisms aside I do think the game is a good 'un and I hope they win awards and do well.

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I thought this was hilarious, speaking both to the strengths and weaknesses of the game but clearly written with love:

http://playthroughline.com/scripts/alien-isolation/

Alien Isolation: The Short Script

post-52-0-19497800-1417904430.png

It's a piece of humour obviously but also nails the biggest problems in the game so hard. For instance, I'm afraid I have to agree that some of the ''fan service'' made me roll my eyes - and i'm a huge fan of Alien - pandering is the only word to describe it. There were a few places where they had the chance to do something new but they went for something out of Alien, even when it made little sense.

But anyway.

The author also has a short piece on the game here.

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Not played Amnesia. Presume PC only?

I totally agree with the criticisms, I felt like it was pretty stretched by the end. But it's such a blow job for me as an Alien fan it could have had another hour of sliding block puzzles and I'd have forgiven it.

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I'd agree with all that Smitty. It would have been better as a shorter game with more variety, still; a great Alien game finally.

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Well I've just ordered this after reading this thread again....

First console game I've bought in a few years, only get to iplay on the ipad during the commute these days, but I reckon this will be my Christmas season indulgence. I'm pumped people....

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Anyone got any advice for The Worst Place In The World (which I assume is

the nest under the reactor, because holy shit, that is pretty fucking nasty.

I managed to overload the alpha core pretty easily, but the beta one is kicking my balls in. There's a tiny tight corridor with almost nowhere to hide, no motion tracker, and no way to tell which way the alien is coming from, and I just can't seem to make any progress.

Incidentally, the production design in this game is off the fucking hook. It recreates the seventies vibe with incredible accuracy - it's like a kind of SF horror version of 'Look Around You'. I'm specifically thinking of the Apollo Core, with its 'Human Consultation Chamber', which is straight out of a seventies futurist's idea of what a computer mainframe of the 22nd century might look like.

There's also the reactor core room, which is astonishing - it looks like a cross between the BBC special effects department's model work and the promotional art for Project Daedalus, the British Interplanetary Society's 1970s proposal for an unmanned probe to Barnard's Star, rather than any modern idea of what a nuclear reactor might be.

Anyone got the art book? I might get it for Christmas.

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Anyone got any advice for The Worst Place In The World (which I assume is

the nest under the reactor, because holy shit, that is pretty fucking nasty.

I managed to overload the alpha core pretty easily, but the beta one is kicking my balls in. There's a tiny tight corridor with almost nowhere to hide, no motion tracker, and no way to tell which way the alien is coming from, and I just can't seem to make any progress.

Incidentally, the production design in this game is off the fucking hook. It recreates the seventies vibe with incredible accuracy - it's like a kind of SF horror version of 'Look Around You'. I'm specifically thinking of the Apollo Core, with its 'Human Consultation Chamber', which is straight out of a seventies futurist's idea of what a computer mainframe of the 22nd century might look like.

There's also the reactor core room, which is astonishing - it looks like a cross between the BBC special effects department's model work and the promotional art for Project Daedalus, the British Interplanetary Society's 1970s proposal for an unmanned probe to Barnard's Star, rather than any modern idea of what a nuclear reactor might be.

Anyone got the art book? I might get it for Christmas.

Honestly K the tactics there are just the same as any of the other alien sections. Use the flamethrower if need be.

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Anyone got any advice for The Worst Place In The World (which I assume is

the nest under the reactor, because holy shit, that is pretty fucking nasty.

I managed to overload the alpha core pretty easily, but the beta one is kicking my balls in. There's a tiny tight corridor with almost nowhere to hide, no motion tracker, and no way to tell which way the alien is coming from, and I just can't seem to make any progress.

Incidentally, the production design in this game is off the fucking hook. It recreates the seventies vibe with incredible accuracy - it's like a kind of SF horror version of 'Look Around You'. I'm specifically thinking of the Apollo Core, with its 'Human Consultation Chamber', which is straight out of a seventies futurist's idea of what a computer mainframe of the 22nd century might look like.

There's also the reactor core room, which is astonishing - it looks like a cross between the BBC special effects department's model work and the promotional art for Project Daedalus, the British Interplanetary Society's 1970s proposal for an unmanned probe to Barnard's Star, rather than any modern idea of what a nuclear reactor might be.

Anyone got the art book? I might get it for Christmas.

For your spoiler:

For starters, there are two aliens in the nest. You'll generally only face one at a time but if you fuck up you could be dealing with two, so be aware. As Smitty says, basically the same tactics as before should work, except that you need to be on point for facehuggers too (so with flamethrower readied). Move fast but quietly, so at walking pace, and don't aggro the aliens unless absolute necessary. You can get through unspotted, and if caught you can hide until they've calmed down again, just like earlier. There are lockers and also two connecting tunnels which as RJ says are safe for you. It's nerve-wracking as hell but you can get through it.

Also, Brendan Keogh on Isolation.

This is a fantastic link, yeah. It's probably the best thing I've read about the game.

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Hmm.

Videogames have a long history of being influenced by the Alien franchise; though, usually more by Aliens than Alien. Almost every sci-fi shooter’s depiction of technology and spaceships and space marines can be traced back to Aliens in some form or another. Isolation, though, feels like the videogames industry has finally figured out that Ripley’s experience in those films is vastly more interesting than Hudson’s. It feels like the triple-a game that finally realises that an ‘interactive’ medium (urgh, sorry) can offer pleasures beyond power fantasies, that a woman engineer good at surviving is more interesting than a man soldier good at shooting stuff (which, really, is the theme of the three Alien films I’ve seen).

Ultimately, it does overstay its welcome (which is somewhat fitting since every Alien film I’ve seen seems to have one or two more encounters than they really need).

The Alien films are interesting as feminist texts. There’s all kind of weird male gaze and ‘mothering’ stuff happening, but there’s also this great, independent, strong-headed character who knows her way around firearms and machines and aliens who happens to be a woman.


He hasn’t watched Alien, has he?

Not sure which three (?) Alien films are based on the theme of ‘a man soldier good at shooting stuff.’ Even Aliens, which is the closest the series comes to the notion of Grunts vs Bugs (unsurprising, since it was inspired by Heinlein’s Starship Troopers), shows brute force to be ineffectual - albeit temporarily, as it ends up replacing the gun-toting male-as-hero with a gun-toting female-as-hero and brute force is ultimately what saves the day. But Alien and Alien 3? In Alien, the men are (like almost everyone else) almost completely ineffectual, their cute manly flamethrowers withstanding. And in Alien 3, the men are mainly rapists and murderers who are brought to book by the ultimate rapist and murderer (the only vaguely positive male role model being a non-violent medic), and again it takes a woman to show them (and it) who’s boss. And obviously, no guns.

He might well be right about the game, but it’s odd that he misreads the films when it’s clear that what he loves about Alien: Isolation is a reflection of precisely the same quality in Alien: the guns don’t help, they just make you worse. You’re vulnerable and alone and the only way to survive is to escape the disaster, by your wits, not by your (physical) prowess.

And there is not one unnecessary encounter in Alien. It’s perfectly constructed and paced, and free of all flab.

Apols for the interruption. Back to not playing the game!

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Oh god, I totally misread that first quote and now I can't go back to edit it because Smitty's already said 'Jesus Christ' in between that and this. (Still, the theme of Alien isn't 'a woman engineer good at surviving is more interesting than a man soldier good at shooting stuff' either, so nyah, Smitty. Nyah.)

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New difficulty modes announced:

http://www.alienisolation.com/news/2014/12/09/new-nightmare-and-novice-difficulty-modes

We’ve seen a number of players with extremely strong dispositions demand more challenges for their Alien: Isolation encounter – another try at survival against tougher odds.

In response to your requests, we’ve created Nightmare Mode, a new difficulty level, which should challenge players to beat the ultimate Alien: Isolation experience.

Explore the world of Sevastopol with a motion tracker featuring a damaged display and undependable information. Resources will be even more limited, the map systems have gone offline and fellow survivors and synthetics are even more deadly and aggressive.

In this heightened, terrifying atmosphere, our Alien will be hunting you like never before. With an upgraded AI that has amplified its fatal hostility, every step you take may be your last. Our monster is more adaptive, learning from your tactics with chilling speed and with intensified senses that will give you no second chances…



nsr.gif

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I can't bring myself to go back to this for some reason. I was enjoying it quite a bit, stopped for a few weeks and just can't be arsed now.

I think it's partly because I know how tense it's going to be, but I've completed games I found scarier and which made me jump more in the past. Moreso I feel like it's because I'm only at chapter 9 and feel like I've kind of already seen everything. I've enjoyed it but I don't know if I need another eight hours of it in my life.

what say you? Is there enough different/great stuff in the second half to entice me to carry on with it?

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You've seen basically none of the best bits yet.

Well. Not none. But there are maybe five segments that I think truly define the game and you've seen two of them thus far.

Spoilery list of those segments:

Medical, for your first exposure to the alien.

Exploring the Derelict.

Trapping the alien in Project KG438.

The Apollo Core.

The reactor.

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