Date Released: October 7, 2014 (2019 – Switch)
Developer: Creative Assembly (Feral Interactive – Switch)
Formats: PC, PS3, PS4, X360, X-Box One, Switch
Genre: First-Person Survival Horror
Alien Isolation is a 2014 video game developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega for PC, PS3, PS4, X360, X-Box One and later the Nintendo Switch. It’s a first-person survival game which takes place 15 years after Alien and features engineer Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, finds out what happened to her mother. Upon its release, Alien Isolation generally received positive reviews praising the atmosphere, sound and unpredictable Xenomorph AI but some criticised the characters and repetitive/lengthy gameplay.
Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a survival horror set in an atmosphere of constant dread and mortal danger. Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for survival, on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. As Amanda, you will navigate through an increasingly volatile world as you find yourself confronted on all sides by a panicked, desperate population and an unpredictable, ruthless Alien. Underpowered and underprepared, you must scavenge resources, improvise solutions and use your wits, not just to succeed in your mission, but to simply stay alive.
Alien Isolation is primarily a singleplayer first-person survival horror game. You play as Amanda Ripley completing objectives around the space station Sevastopol. Along the way, you’ll encounter hostile humans, androids and a single Xenomorph pursues you for most of the game which cannot be killed. The Xenomorph AI is very unpredictable. There are some scripted events but a lot of the time, it can suddenly appear from a vent with little warning. Making as little sound as possible is essential for survival as the creature will investigate anything it sees or hears.
To help you along, you have a flashlight to see in the dark and a motion tracker which shows where enemies are. The motion tracker only tracks movement so if an enemy is stood still, it won’t appear. You also can’t tell where they are vertically so a Xenomorph could be in a vent above you or even below you. You have to be careful when using the motion tracker in proximity of the Xenomorph as it may hear the sound of the motion tracker.
Stealth plays a big part of the game and you could go through the game without killing a single person. You can hide in cabinets and lockers and use vents to get around. You will receive some weapons to fight hostile humans and androids including a revolver, shotgun, bolt gun, flamethrower and a stun gun but ammunition is in short supply. The flamethrower is the only weapon that will fend off the Xenomorph when it sees you forcing it to escape into a vent. Without it, the xenomorph will kill you as soon as it sees you. In addition to those weapons, you can also craft EMP, noisemakers, molotov cocktails, and pipe bombs. Materials and schematics can be found around the space station.
While the xenomorph can inst-kill you, you do have a limited amount of health with can be lost when hostile humans or androids attack you. Health can be restored with the use of medkits which can be crafted by the player by finding materials. The space station is divided into sections which you can traverse via the tram system or elevators. You might need to find access codes or keycards, or hacked or cut open with a welding torch. You can rewire terminals to activate certain functions such turning off the lights or disabling the security cameras. Saving your progress in the game is done by reaching terminals scattered throughout the station and inserting Amanda’s keycard. If you are killed before you reach a terminal, you restart at the last save terminal.
In addition to the singleplayer campaign, you also have a Survivor Mode where you have to complete certain objectives within a time limit while also avoiding the Xenomorph.
A new Aliens game was announced in May 2011 and was developed by Creative Assembly who are best known for their work on the Total War game series. Sega originally got the right to make Alien game in late 2006. After Creative Assembly had finished making Viking: Battle for Asgard, Alistair Hope and Jude Bond worked together with a small team to develop a survival-horror prototype. In six weeks, the team had made a proof of concept with a player-controlled xenomorph in place of a complex decision-making tree that would determine its behaviour. The decisions made by the player would form the basis of the creature’s AI. They approached Sega to make the game and soon it was greenlit.
Because Creative Assembly didn’t have any experience making survival horror games, they hired developers from studios such as Bizarre Creations, Black Rock, Crytek, Ubisoft, and Realtime Worlds. The team quickly grew from a handful a people to over 100 by 2014. Creative Assembly decided to model the game based on the look of Ridley Scott’s Alien and they were given access to various archives at 20th Century Fox containing sketches, concept art, set photos and other design work. The developers broke down the Alien sets in order to build new environments in the game that looked the same as in the movie. The same was done to the film’s soundtrack where they took it apart and extended for the length of the game. Creative Assembly also met with Alien editor Terry Rawlings to gather further information.
Alien Isolation features a lo-fi 1970’s vision of what the future would look like instead of the futuristic vision of what we would have today. The design was heavily inspired by the work from concept artists Ron Cobb and Mœbius. Like Alien, you’ll find monochrome displays and old CRT monitors which were very much relevant for the 1970’s. In the game, hacking doors and panels requires you to tune into a computer signal and to select icons. Something like this could have been built on the set of Alien in the 1970’s.
In terms of story, Creative Assembly wanted Alien Isolation to tie in closely with Alien so a story was devised that is set 15 years after the events there with Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda. Sigourney Weaver agreed to do some voiceover work that can be found in voice memos scattered around the space station. Along with Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, and Yaphet Kotto reprised their roles for a separate downloadable content mission.
Alien Isolation was developed on a custom game engine built from the ground up by Creative Assembly and incorporated the game’s lighting effects and the xenomorph’s unpredictable AI behaviour. About six months into development, an important toolchain update took place which meant previous work had to be discarded or ported over to the new tools. The new tools made the process more efficient but took some time to get there. The xenomorph in the game was designed to look like H.R. Giger’s version with the translucent skull. The developers did change the humanoid legs to recurved ones so that the way it walked would be more believable in longer encounters with the player. Over 70 different sets of animations for the alien were created and the creature’s AI was programmed with a set of behavioural parameters that unlock as it encounters the player. This gives the impression that the alien is completely unpredictable and learns from each encounter.
Some features were cut from the game in the early stages. The game was developed from a third-person perspective but was changed to first-person as it greatly changed the gameplay experience. Footage of the original Alien Isolation pitch and of the early third person perspective was released online in March of 2015. One plan was to allow the player to craft their own weapons but this was dropped as the game wasn’t really about weapons. Another trait of the xenomorph is its acidic blood which can burn through metal. The was developed but was later removed as “it would change the course of the game” according to the developers.
Creative Assembly first revealed they were making an Alien game in May 2011. In October 2013, it was revealed that 20th Century Fox had trademarked the name “Alien: Isolation”. In December 2013, two pieces of promotional art for Alien Isolation were found on Twitter.
Sega officially announced Alien Isolation on January 7, 2014. It is due out for PC, PS3, PS4, X360 and X-Box One platforms by the end of 2014. It is a first-person survival horror game set fifteen years after the events in Ridley Scott’s Alien. Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, is the central character and she goes on a mission to find out what happened to her mother. Lots of preview articles and gameplay footage of Alien Isolation was released on various gaming websites. Alien: Isolation is set for release on October 7, 2014. The date was confirmed during a presentation at EGX Rezzed in March, 2014.
In April 2014, a new trailer “The Low-Fi of Alien Isolation” was released. There was also a behind-the-scenes video “The Sound of Alien Isolation“. In May 2014, another featurette was released “Creating the Cast” which focusses on the characters. In June 2014, Alien Isolation was showcased at E3 where a new trailer and new screenshots were released. A new time-based challenge game mode was also revealed as well as possible support for the Oculus Rift. In July 2014, it was revealed that Alien cast members Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), and Yaphet Kotto (Parker) will be reprising their roles in the preorder Alien Isolation DLC.
Release, Reception & Sales
Alien Isolation received mostly positive reviews upon its release and has a metacritic score of 81, with 32 positive reviews and 9 mixed reviews. The positive points include the tense eerie atmosphere, and the music/sound. The complaints are aimed at the lengthy campaign that features a so-so story and the hard difficulty.
The big two gaming sites, Gamespot and IGN gave it 6 and 5.9 respectively but Alien Isolation was much better received on other gaming sites. IGN praised the atmosphere but was negative about the game’s long length and repetitive gameplay: “Alien: Isolation erases the memory of Colonial Marines, but it’s still not the great Alien game we were hoping for.” PC Gamer scored it 93/100 praising the visuals and sound design: “The game the Alien series has always deserved. A deep, fun stealth game set in an evocatively realised sci-fi world.” Destructoid gave it 8/10: “Halfway into playing Alien: Isolation, I stopped to watch the first four Alien movies again. It wasn’t just for research purposes, but mostly because the game had me yearning for more of the universe. Isolation has some flaws, but it’s faithful to the film series, and I’d love to see a follow-up with a few extra alien evolutions.”
In terms of sales, after its first week on sale, it debuted in second place in the UK Game Charts, just behind Fifa 15. In May 2015, it was announced that Alien Isolation had sold 2.11 million copies. Alien Isolation was ported over to the Nintendo Switch console by Feral Interactive and released digitally on December 5, 2019. No physical copy was released but the Switch version received positive reviews. It runs 30fps/720p in handheld and 1080p/30fps in docked mode with some occasional framerate drops. Graphically, it’s very close to the PS4 version.
Alien Isolation will have two preorder DLC missions. The first is called “Crew Expendable” and takes place after Brett’s death. Players assume the role of Ripley, Dallas or Parker, as the crew of the Nostromo attempt to flush the alien from the air vents and into the ship’s airlock. You’ll have a slightly different perspective on events depending on which character you play as and will begin the mission with different resources.
The second pre-order mission – “Last Survivor” – will be available through specific retailers and is set during the film’s finale. You will be able to play as Ripley and must activate the Nostromo’s self-destruct sequence and reach the Narcissus shuttle to escape. On October 21st, Creative Assembly announced the first of five DLC packs coming out for Alien Isolation. The first is called ‘Corporate Lockdown‘, followed by ‘Trauma’, ‘Safe Haven’, ‘Lost Contact’ and ‘The Trigger’.
Alien Isolation 2 Sequel
In December 2014, AvPGalaxy interviewed Lead Game Designer Gary Napper and he said “The plot for a sequel is a daily topic in the studio sometimes. People have their own ideas for where it should go, our writers have some solid concepts and yes, we do have a great opportunity to continue her story.” Asked whether or not there’d be more action in a sequel, Napper said: “I think the action oriented “Aliens” style game is very different from what Isolation is. If we made a sequel I would like to stick to the same terrifying single Alien approach but do more with the environment and interactivity within it.”
In May 2015, it was reported that Sega was unhappy with the 2.11 million sales of Alien Isolation and in October 2015, Creative Assembly said they were unhappy with the sales too. They said that Alien Isolation 2 is not off the cards but a sequel is unlikely to make any profit. In January 2018, due to the fan backlash from Alien: Blackout, TQ Jefferson, vice president of external development at FoxNext said Alien Isolation 2 is not in development.
PC System Requirements
Minimum PC Specifications: Operating System: Windows 7 (32bit) Processor: 3.16Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 RAM: 4GB RAM Hard Drive: 35GB required for installation Video Card: 1GB DirectX 11 (AMD Radeon HD 5550 or Nvidia GeForce GT 430) Broadband Internet Connection
Recommended PC Specifications: Operating System: Windows 7 (64bit) Processor: AMD: Phenom II X4 955 – 4 Core, 3.2 GHz or INTEL: Core 2 Quad Q9650 – 4 Core, 3.0 Ghz RAM: 8GB RAM Hard Drive: 35GB required for installation Video Card: 2GB DirectX 11 (AMD GPU: AMD Radeon R9 200 Series or Nvidia gpu: GeForce GTX660) Broadband Internet Connection
Alien Isolation Screenshots
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Alien Isolation Concept Art
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Alien Isolation Magazine Articles
How Alien Isolation Survived its Difficult Development – Video Documentary ()
AvP Galaxy Reviews Alien: Isolation on the Switch! ()
Alien: Isolation Is Released on the Nintendo Switch Today! ()
Alien: Isolation – In Depth Gameplay Video by Feral Interactive ()
Alien: Isolation Switch Release Announced for 5th December! ()
You can full the full news archive for Alien Isolation here.