‘Alien: Isolation’ entirely too long, but always satisfyingly terrifying
It shrouds itself in the darkness, sneaking around corners and lurking through air ducts. You can’t defeat it, merely fend it off while you scurry back into your hiding spot. You frantically peer through the grates in the locker where you’re cowering, praying against fate that the creature doesn’t spot you, doesn’t hear your ragged breath. And just when you think it’s safe to make your next move to freedom, to escape, it jumps down on top of you, ending your life in the most terrifying manner since you watched the movie.
Bringing back the survival-horror genre with the force of an atomic bomb, SEGA’s “Alien: Isolation” is equal parts mind-destroying fear and respectful homage to the original 1979 “Alien” film from which it draws its inspiration. Your entire goal — from the fuzzy (and familiar) 20th Century intro to the ambiguous ending — is merely survival. You foe: just about everything that isn’t you, but especially one towering, merciless, destructive alien. You see, the way you survive is by running away and hiding. But the alien (sometimes referred to as “xenomorph”) has a bit of an issue with you continuing to draw breath and whatnot. The battle then becomes one of wills with your survival skills pitted against the alien’s murderous rampage. You can see that you’re at the disadvantage here.
The story of “Isolation” takes place 15 years after the events of the original movie. You play as Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver reprises her role for certain dialogue and DLC content). An engineer working in deep space, you want to find out what happened to your mother, who went missing after the Nostromo incident. News comes quickly, with Amanda learning that the ship’s black box has been recovered. She and several others (including one handy android) travel to the Sevastopol to collect the box, only for everything to go horribly awry. Now, you’re stuck on a disabled space station with crazed humans, malfunctioning androids and one deadly alien running around.
Four terrifying stars out of five.
Editor’s note: This version of “Alien: Isolation” was reviewed on the Xbox One. It also is available on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.