Platform: Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, ZX Spectrum
Commodore 64: NA: 1984 | EU: 1984
ZX Spectrum: EU: 1984
Amstrad CPC: EU: 1985
Publisher: Argus Press Software
Developer: Concept Software
Alien is a 1984 strategy/adventure game developed by Concept Software and published by Argus Press Software. It was released in 1984 for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, and later ported to the Amstrad CPC in 1985.
An alien is lurking somewhere within the spaceship Nostromo. The alien has hatched from the body of one of the seven crew members on board, but can the other six crew members kill it in time, before the ship returns to Earth or their oxygen supply runs out?
This is a menu-driven strategy game, and there is more than one way to complete the game. Alien begins with one of the crew members of Nostromo being killed by a Xenomorph. The player can move around the characters on a grid which mimics the layout of the Nostromo spacecraft. Along your route, you can ask one of the characters to pick up useful objects like nets, incinerators, pistols and oxygen tanks. These can be used to neutralise the Xenomorph or you can try and trap it inside of an airlock.
The characters in the game have an emotional status going from confident, stable, uneasy, shaken, hysterical and broken. This status determines how they will respond to the player’s instructions so they might be too scared to go somewhere or enter a risky situation. Sending one character off to wander around alone also affects them negatively. One way to improve their status is to get them to pick up weapons you find.
Like in the film, one of the characters is secretly an android and will eventually go rogue. When there are only three members of the crew remaining, you can activate the ship’s self-destruct sequence and escape in the Narcissus.
Based on the current situation, the emotional status of the crewmen can change. Their emotional states can range from confident, stable, uneasy, shaken, hysterical, and broken. This means that the crew members will not always obey the player’s orders and can be frozen by fear or unwillingness to enter a hazardous situation. Ordering characters to pick up weapons can positively affect their emotional status and make them more likely to follow orders. Sending a character off alone can negatively affect their emotional status, causing them to perform poorly. Furthermore, like in the film, one of the crew members is secretly an android and he will turn on the other crew. When the crew is reduced to three there is the option of activating the ship’s self-destruct sequence and escaping in the Narcissus.
Alien received mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Crash Magazine gave it a positive review saying: “An excellent game — should keep you going for weeks. Hitchcock would have loved it.” Your Spectrum gave it a positive review while Computer & Video Games scored it 11/40 “Based on the now infamous film, this game is a sad disappointment , with appalling graphics, sickly colours and very little action.” Retrospectively, VentureBeat said Alien is a must-play title “Put too many people into a vent to hunt the Alien and everyone begins suffering from claustrophobia. It’s impressive that these little design details were being explored in 1984.”