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The Film-To-Game Perfection of Alien: Isolation

The plight of the film-to-video-game adaptation has been a difficult one. Historically, movie-licensed games have failed to live up to their source material due to a cavalcade of different reasons: clunky storytelling, bland gameplay, poor voice impersonations, the list goes on and on. But every once in a blue moon, a movie-based title comes along that completely turns this unfortunate stereotype on its head. Alien: Isolation is one of those games. Released in 2014 for Xbox 360/One, PS3/4, and Windows, Creative Assembly’s masterpiece showed us exactly how to create a beautiful film-to-game translation.

A key part of why this game is so successful is how astonishingly faithful it is to its source material. The world in which the game takes place feels straight out of the original 1979 Alien film. The retro-futuristic art design makes you feel that you are exploring a high-tech space station built in the 70s, complete with many flashing lights and overly complex control panels. Not only this, but the Alien itself was also given the same terrifying presence that it had in the films. This is not an enemy that can easily be dealt with; it provides a constant source of terror throughout the game’s extensive run time.

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Not only is the game faithful to the source material, but a large part of what makes Alien: Isolation so successful is the amount of horror derived from the gameplay itself. Unlike other horror games that are content to throw cheap jump scares at you, Isolation finds fear in its core gameplay. Using your own wits and thinking on your toes in a first-person perspective as you make your desperate attempt to evade the alien is what this game is all about. Under-prepared and under-equipped, rarely will the player feel 100% safe as they traverse the halls of their spacecraft. At all times, there is a constant sense of dread knowing that something, somewhere, wants you dead.

The Alien’s AI is incredibly intelligent and will adapt to any situation that the player might find themselves in. The Alien is out for blood, in the same way, it was in the franchise. This requires the player to constantly be alert and think on their feet as the very unpredictable nature of the game unfolds before them. There are an innumerable amount of unique moments that the player will create for themselves as they desperately try to figure out their own process for outsmarting the Alien. The icing on the already-horrifying cake is that the Alien cannot be killed; it can only be briefly scared away with a flamethrower and various other contraptions that the player can create using different items obtained throughout their journey.

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Alien: Isolation allows the player to jump right into the world of the 1979 film, and turns it into a game that somehow manages to capture that incredible atmosphere of the original. Of course, it’s not necessary for the player to have watched the original film before jumping into Isolation, but those who have seen it will definitely find a new level of appreciation for the sheer amount of effort that was obviously put into recreating the world and atmosphere of the original movie. The tense gameplay, tangible atmosphere, eerie soundtrack, and the remarkable sense of sheer style make it an incredibly immersive interactive experience. Isolation is a true gem of a game that will surely continue to find new ways to scare us for many years to come.

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  1. Patola

    April 3, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Undoubtedly, Alien Isolation is THAT good. But I’ve read that its sales disappointed, and that is too bad, because it’s truly a masterpiece. I wish there was a sequel.

    • Joe Chase

      April 3, 2017 at 1:10 am

      I would be really interested to hear the internal discussion at Sega about this game to date. It’s so impressive , even several years after its release it still stands out .

      There was rumour of a VR port , but I doubt Sega would put more money into a game they did not find successful monetarily (I’m guessing).

      Still, there has a got to be a group of developers who hopefully realize they indeed created a masterpiece with Alien Isolation.

  2. Rob

    April 3, 2017 at 4:17 am

    By far my favorite game of the gen so far. This game is a perfect example of why reviews are nonsense. Ign gave this gem of a game a 6 which is completely mind boggling to me. It had to have hurt sales a bit but didn’t deter me from still buying it day one and the game was even better than I was hoping it would be which doesn’t happen very often. It’s the alien game I’ve always wanted to play and I hope and pray to the gaming God’s that Sega and creative assembly can find a reason and good story to make a sequel or even just another alien game. Of all the shitty needless sequel’s we get all the time why can’t we get some good ones for once. This and dead space 4 are the ones I’m hoping to see again soon as that sci-horror sub genre is sareverly lacking especially on the AAA console market, there’s virtually nothing except prey anywhere in the future and prey looks more action than horror but I’ll still take it.

  3. Michal Mlejnek

    April 3, 2017 at 10:05 am

    You forgot about Linux and Mac ports 😉

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