Finished it this morning and not very happy about it overall.
I'll stand by my $5 beer analogy. You might enjoy this temporarily, but it leaves behind a feeling of emptiness because there's no depth. It's also extremely frustrating in terms of gameplay, but not because of a level of challenge that we can navigate via good controls and mechanics. It's frustrating because the game is flawed and throws cheap shot after cheap shot at you until you either finish it or close the app. The player's success at the game is largely determined by luck.
Having an Alien game on my person at all times isn't the worst way to cure boredom.
The overall presentation.
The sound is nicely done if you're wearing headphones, even sounds decent through my iPhone 8 speakers, but VERY GOOD through headphones. The score is nicely done as well and doesn't just try to replicate Isolation, or Goldsmith's score. But it does sound to me like it fits in with the Alien franchise while being its own thing.
Same voice actor for Amanda Ripley, nice consistency there. I think this helps a lot with the overall feel and it's nice to spend some more time with her.
The aesthetic matches Isolation pretty close, even recycles some of the Alien sounds from that game. The space station design appears to be very similar. The visuals are consistent with Alien
and also Isolation. It's a good looking game, which brings me to
You're barely ever looking at the things that look good because you have to use the map to see where your people are, and see where the Alien is. The cameras don't help you much with that. The detailed map fills the whole screen while the map that fits in the corner if you're looking through cameras gives you only a basic overview, plus you can't issue commands on the thumbnail map. You have to go back to the main map. Each level has maybe 4 or 5 cameras you can look through, which leaves the rest of the level (maybe 65% of every level) to never be seen by the player. This would be fine if you could move the cameras the way you can move your head in the vents, but most of them are fixed, and only a few will pan back and forth slowly by themselves. Blackout becomes a game of little white dots moving slowly between lines, and then sometimes a red dot comes and chases them and makes them disappear.
If you haven't played other games that this has been compared to, you'll probably be lost. Literally every review I've seen has compared it to Five Nights at Freddy's, which I've never even heard of. The game features no real tutorial, so I guess the developers already expect you to be familiar with how this works. It gives you three prompts at the start so you know what you're able to tap on the screen, and then you're on your own.
8 minutes time limit. Cheap way to raise the stakes. The only real source of tension as well, because the game is not scary and the plot is not interesting.
Mobile game, but you can't play it without sound. There are no visual indicators for when the Xenomorph attacks Ripley in the vents.
Also...how is it that Ripley manages to safely make it between each of these levels, when she's never actually sealed anywhere and constantly vulnerable to Alien attack?
On this point, the defense of Ripley from the Alien in the events becomes an absolutely miserable and cheap gameplay mechanic. On the final level it's insufferable. I only beat the level because I got lucky when the Alien attacked me in the vents, and had probably died at least 10 times from not being able to turn my head quickly enough from looking at the wrong vent back to the right one. Also, none of this has anything to do with what's going on outside the vents. You could have 4 characters alive, and be half a second from the end of the mission before the Alien comes in and insta-kills you if you don't close the right door in time. In addition to the two vents in the final level, there's also a larger doorway that requires you to tap an extremely specific spot to close the door, and you'll only learn where the right spot is to tap after failing, because the game does a bad job of teaching the player how to play it.
It probably needs the use of an iPad and a good stylus to actually feel comfortable, while squeezing a smartphone in your hands for an extended period of time and alternating between your thumbs and fingers to tap things is uncomfortable. Also, when you use your finger to draw the path of the characters on the map you're blocking the screen with your hand, so if feels like you're half guessing until you see the line drawn out after the fact. Touch screen games are not for me unless it's a DS game, so this is probably based on my taste.
The story might as well not exist or feature Ripley. I'm not sure what this does to further her story at all or bring anything new to the series. It's Isolation Lite, but without a plot. The other characters might as well not be named. The Yutani character is voice-acted by someone who either has no business in that line of work, or needs better direction than what was given here. Unless it's intentional for Yutani to sound like the artificial voice of a Garmin GPS.
The characters both do and do not need your help on an inconsistent basis. Any task they complete they do it automatically when they're near an objective, leaving you to just sit there and watch a progress bar fill up for a few seconds. Unsatisfying. They'll even walk to the objectives automatically; you don't have to draw their paths for them. It only becomes necessary to do that when you start to understand the pattern of the Alien's behavior, which isn't as random as it first seems. Sometimes they'll even hide by themselves if the Alien gets too close, without needing your command. But, other times the characters need to be babysat and you have to tell them when to hide. They don't actually possess any sensory abilities a lot of the time. Sometimes they'll tell you the Alien is nearby and an indicator will show you what direction they hear it, but other times they'll hear nothing or the Alien will actually be in the same room and they'll die instantly before you have any idea what's going on. The lack of availability of any kind of single-use defensive item seems like a missed opportunity.
Speaking of defense items, Ripley's character makes no sense. She's on a space station, is an engineer, and has done this before. Why is she so helpless this time? In Isolation, she BUILDS her own equipment. Beyond just this superficial inconsistency, you're put in a position where you might need to
try and create a diversion with
sacrifice one character so that another can survive, which is just about as contrary to how we understand Ripley's character from Isolation as it gets.
The final level is stupid hard if you only have one character left, and it's pretty tough to keep them all alive to this point. I'm puzzled that this game's difficulty would be at the level it is, while also pandering to wider audiences by eliminating almost all violence. I don't think I ever once saw the Alien kill one of my crewmembers on a camera feed.
It can be a fun throwaway or a frustrating throwaway, but to me it's still a throwaway nonetheless, unlike other portable gaming options in the series such as Aliens Infestation or perhaps even an older one like Thanatos Encounter. It's $5. You get what you pay for. The only replay value is to hear some dialogue from the 4 characters who you can give orders to, or I guess there are achievements on Google Play or something.
Second opinion: F this game completely. I don't know how many times I've restarted the second level, just trying to keep both characters alive. Haven't gotten lucky yet, and I've had to listen to this f**king dialogue over and over and over and over and over again in doing so. Irritating beyond belief and for no real in-game reward.