Alien Isolation: A Lifelover’s Nightmare

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Please god, just let me make it to that locker over there………

I cannot count the number of times I had a similar thought while playing Alien: Isolation. It is one of the scariest (if not THE scariest) as well as one of the most fun games I have ever played. This is why:

When you think about a survival horror game, you probably think about Resident Evil or Silent Hill, games where you have a limited supply of ammo and things to kill. Or maybe you think of games like Outlast or Amnesia where you can only hide because fighting means death. Alien: Isolation manages to find a happy (terrifying) medium between the two. You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley. She is on an expedition to find information about her mother when she and her crew get stranded on a giant space station called Sevestapol. Sevastapol is in the middle of being decommissioned and has more than it’s share of problems aside from the xenomorph that is hunting everyone. Really though, Ripley is about to have a worse day than Issac Clarke did in Dead Space. The game gives you plenty of weapons that you can potentially use BUT, using said weapons on the xenomorph that relentlessly hunts you the enitre game is like trying to explain Gorguts to a die hard Nickelback fan. Shit just ain’t gonna happen. You are better off using the tools you can craft as a distraction and then getting the fuck out of dodge. Simple, right? Wrong. This will only work for a period of time because that Alien fucker is smart. As an example, one of the things the game allows you to craft is a noisemaker, which you can then throw across the room so that the jackass organism goes to investigate it. When I found this out, I started doing it a lot, to the point where I relied on it. This was one of the biggest mistakes I could have made, because that fucker learns from your encounters. There was one point where I went to throw a noisemaker and proceeded about my hacking while it was distracted, only it wasn’t distracted as I found out when I got stabbed through the chest because that shithead was all like, “Nah man, I’m not falling for that this time.” You may have noticed the various slurs I just used referring to the xenomorph. Like it was an actual person. That right there is why I started the review this way, because that is the essence of this game and ultimately, the reason it’s so damn good. Here’s a clip from my first extended encounter with the jerk:

I am going to refer to the xenomorph as Bob from now on just to make things a bit easier, and also because I don’t like typing out xenomorph. So here’s the thing about Bob: Bob has one purpose — to kill you. He doesn’t care how, he doesn’t have a reason, he just wants to kill you plain and simple. And he has all the time in the world. I tried so hard to think of Bob as a sequence of code, an AI that had to follow rules, but in the end he really just became “that alien asshole” because he behaved as unpredictably as any living thing. You may have one encounter where he comes and rips you out of your locker and kills you and another one where he simply ignores the your room altogether. Or, even worse, you may think it’s okay to leave, only to see Bob waiting for you as the door opens. Seriously, fuck Bob. The entire game is basically about getting from point A to point B while doing your best to not get brutally murdered by Bob. You may have to hack a door or access a computer on the way which wouldn’t be so bad if Ripley didn’t stand up in potential full view of Bob while doing so. Bob is impervious to bullets and explosives; these will only anger him. So how are you supposed to survive? The most useful tool at your disposal is your motion tracker. It will let out little beeps when Bob is near, meaning you should check it regularly. If it starts beeping fast, it’s time to hide. You can hide in a locker, a cabinet, or under a table; or you can test your luck and crouch behind some boxes or a desk (seriously, don’t do this, I was super lucky). This won’t always work, though, since sometimes Bob wants to know whats inside the locker. Eventually you can defend yourself with a flame thrower, but that only sends Bob scurrying for a bit and when he comes back he most likely won’t be phased by flames. Just the simple knowledge that you are never for one second truly safe in this game creates a sense of dread unlike any other while simultaneously giving you a rush of adrenaline. The other thing about Bob is he can be incredibly sneaky, like in this clip:

One of the biggest tools the game uses to scare the fuck out of you is sound. Whether it be the sickening clunk of Bob dropping out of an air duct, his footsteps in your vicinity, or even simply walking by a vent and having it open and wondering if it opened because of you or because you are about to get killed. I can’t tell you how many times I just sat there and listened, wondering if I should leave the comfort of my locker (it’s cozy and it even has a window!), just waiting to hear Bob’s footsteps in the hall or his banging around in the vent to give me some idea of where he was. A lot of times I just didn’t trust the motion tracker because it doesn’t exactly pinpoint where Bob is. Also, there is the fact that if Bob is close enough he will hear the beeping of the motion detector, and then it’s time to die. Did I mention that the motion detector also shows the direction of your objective so you can’t just avoid using it? The musical score is phenomenal as well as terrifying, and always fits perfectly with the situation. At times, it will even give you an indicator of how fucked you are. If it sounds like a violin being played quickly it’s time to hide. If it sounds like the foghorn of a giant cruise ship, it’s time to die. Everything about the audio in this game is done to perfection.

The game does give you some reprieve from playing cat and mouse with Bob only to deal with humans that will shoot on sight or passive aggressive androids that want to help you die. I say passive aggressive because, while these androids are looking for you they say things like “I only want to help” or “this really wont do” or my personal favorite, “you are making me waste company time.” If they corner you, you can kill them with your guns, but it’s not an easy task. More often than not, firing at them will cause them to reply with “Really?” or “My turn!” or “You’re becoming hysterical.” And when they start trying to strangle you it’s, “Let me help you.” Oh, and if it’s in an area where Bob is lurking, firing any sort of weapon will cause Bob to come investigate. It’s a testament to how good this game is that they can make something as boring as a common android become almost as terrifying as Bob.

I should also point out that the developers absolutely nailed the retro sci-fi look of the original film. Everything from the CRT monitors to the color and lighting of the station, even the furniture. It really made me want to go back and watch the original film again.

If I had to find some complaint about this game, I would say it can feel a bit repetitive at times and the save point system can be downright frustrating. However, I don’t think the game would be as harrowing as it is without that save system. This is a situation where autosave would have been the wrong choice. There is nothing like being inches from a save point only to see Bob drop down right next to it and have to hide, or going up to the save point, learning there are enemies nearby, and second guessing your intent to save.

Alien Isolation legitimately scared the shit out of me. There are times I was afraid to even move for fear that Bob might drop out of the vent above me at the most inconvenient time imaginable. It was an experience that messed with my mind and gave me massive adrenaline rushes. It was a punishing, brutal assault on the senses that I, for some reason, couldn’t get enough of. It wasn’t the Alien game we need, but the one we deserve. You know what the craziest part of all this is? I can’t wait to play it again.

I’ll leave you with a video of what to me was one of the creepiest parts of the game:

Jack Bauer gives Alien: Isolation 0.5/5 flushes.

half flush[Joe Note: I think we need pixel toilets for video games]

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  • Tyree
    • hahahaha

    • was this from The Critic?

      • W.

        Criminally underrated show.

      • Death

        I think it’s from that one really underground show called The Simpsons.

    • I need to know what happens next damnit!

  • This was a rad review, Jack. I think I’m way too much of a scaredy cat to play this one tho.

    • Thanks! You can do it!

      • I think one too many 3 AM sessions with ghouls in Fallout has ruined me forever.

        • W.

          Stay out of the Dunwich building.

        • Fucking Dunwich Bulding.

          • W.

            Haha jinx.

          • lol

          • Fuck that place forever.

          • Death

            Stay the hell away from the Dunwich Building into the south, that place is bad mojo.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Fuck that building. Fuck that building to hell.

    • KJM

      The Face Huggers might be a deal breaker, but I’ve played all the others so I should do this one too.

      • If it helps, the face huggers are only around the end of the game.

        • KJM

          If I have a flamethrower, I’m good with it.

        • KJM

          Do you have the ‘Crew Expendable’ DLC?

          • Yea, it’s nothing special

          • Update on the DLC, the crew expendable DLC is still nothing special, but the last survivor dlc had my heart beating wicked fast. Intense as hell. Lets you play through the part from the first movie where Ripley is trying to get to the escape ship b4 the nostromo self destructs. Short but sweet.

    • Stockhausen

      I remember being a younger lad and watching my cousin play Silent Hill. He was also a massive douche who loved hed p.e. Those two aren’t related, but the game was scary.

  • W.
  • The Black Dahlia Burger

    Just started this game last night actually. I played for an hour and a half and literally nothing has happened so far and the facial animations are extremely underwhelming :/ The atmosphere of it is amazing though; hoping to see dat alium after work tonight.

    • it takes about an hour or so for shit to pick up but my god does it pick up. And the pacing beforehand is pretty good as well.

      • The Black Dahlia Burger

        Good. I was admittedly playing pretty slow, kind of exploring everything. Last thing I did was turn on the generator I think?

        • Did you meet Axl yet? yes there is a guy named after our nemesis lol.

          • The Black Dahlia Burger

            Yes I did meet him, actually. I stopped at the first save point I saw after meeting him though. Oh and awesome review btw, probably should have mentioned that.

          • lol thanks, depending on how much time u spend exploring and what not it’s probably only about 20 mins until you first see bob.

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I gotta get this game.

  • Ugh I was creeped out just watching your videos, I can’t handle games like these anymore lol

    • Steve Smithwick

      YES YOU CAN, WITH THE POWER OF POWER METAL YOU CAN FACE ALL OF YOUR DEMONS.

      • TRUTH WARRIOR, BUT ONLY IN REALITY. VIDEO GAMES TAKE PLACE IN UNIVERSES BEYOND OUR CONTROL, WHERE OUR POWERS DO NOT EXIST.

  • Scrimm

    That section in medical was a bitch. I don;t know if my favorite is turning your light on in a dark vent to see that damn thing right there, or when your beating the fuck out of an android after stunning it only to turn around right as the alien is leaping at you.

    • lol I didn’t know it could go in the same vents as me till I saw it in a video, I now avoid them like the plague.

      • Scrimm

        I do too now.

  • Death

    Need to go change my pants.

    • PANTSMAIDER PANTSMAIDER PANTSMAIDER PANTMAIDER!

      <3

      GL

      • Death

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          “I’d hate to complain but…”

          • Death

            The only difference between me and Mähönen is that I like to complain.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I think that’s something every Finn likes to do. Mähönen has to be a fake. Or worse, swedish

          • Death

            I “thonk” that he might be Swedish as well.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I corrected that one.

          • Death

            It’s too late mate.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Your’e not being fair. It should never be too late… for me

          • Death

            *You’re

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Again your’re not bening fair. My mistaks shuld bii förgiving

          • David Vincent’s Spandex Shirt

            Have you confirmed that he actually exists.

          • Death

            I don’t want to be near anything that belongs or belonged to David Vincent. Please go away from me.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’d hate to complain (not) but I think you forgot a word from the beginning of your sentence

          • Death

            Aren’t I a cute little hypocrite?

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I guess.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’m not convinced of your cuteness

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I am. Look at all the cute pictures of puppies that he posts! They’re so adorable!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Having an eye for all things cute doesn’t make him cute

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Are you sure? I love the adorable puppies he posts because even though I’m a guy I love things that are adorable or cute. I’m sure he’ll find Mrs. Death soon because who can’t love puppies and kitties?

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            He only uses them as a distraction from his hideousness

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I don’t believe you. I would only believe that if he decided to steal my best friend away from me.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’ve forgot how to spell it seems. Correceted this one too

          • Death

            Hey, you can insult me, but leave my dear doggies out of this!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I didn’t insult them. It was an insult aimed at you. You are evil enough to use adorable dogs to disguise your goals. That was the point of what I was saying more or less.

          • Death

            I don’t use my dogs to gain my goals!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            You gained Jim’s adoration with their pictures… That counts

          • Death

            It was not my intention to gain anyone’s adoration with them. You’re just jaleous because you don’t bave cute dogs like me.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I’m not a dog person. I do enjoy their existence/presence, but only when they are not on my responsibility. So perhaps it can’t be completely shut out that I am a little bit “jaleous” whatever that means.

          • Death

            In a world where looks matter, no one is gonna love me.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I’m not really that attractive either but that is because of my weight. I’m trying to lose weight though because I want to find love. It will take a while to get down to a reasonable size but I know I can do it.

          • Death

            Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don’t look around my eyes, look into my eyes. You now think that I’m the cutest person in the world. Three, two, one… You’re back in the room

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            You’re right mrs.Craig, he can’t do it.

          • Death

            LOVE ME!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            We all love you Death. I will always love you.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9nPf7w7pDI

          • Death

            Oh man, that’s a horrible song.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            It fit the moment, OK? That’s the reason I picked it.

          • Death

            Not really, it just made me angry.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I didn’t mean for that to happen. 🙁

          • Death

            I’m not about that dating life. Just give me a Slint song and we’re okay.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Here. Take her anyway though. You don’t have to date her, just take her and keep her as a pet or something. She has no morals and is basically devoid of any humanity.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAApF-FDkoY

          • Death

            No morals eh?
            #TeamNihilism

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            She has no morals, no conscience and she does not care about who she hurts. She is less human than anyone I have ever met. She has caused a lot of heartbreak to a lot of people. I don’t like her as you can tell.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I never said I didn’t. Cute things are to be adored. It is other things I share my love with.

          • Death

            ADORE ME,

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            IS MY LOVE NOT ENOUGH!? IS NOTHING ENOUGH!?

          • Death

            I CRAVE MORE!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I thought you said I GRAVE MORE and that thought made me laugh.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            He did.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            *HILARIOUSLY CLEVER ANSWER TO INTENTIONALLY MORBID PUN*

          • Death

            I’m leaving you. I’ll take the dogs and the house. You can have those nasty kids.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            No! Anything but the kids. Here take all my money, just don’t leave me alone with the kids.

          • Death

            What was that? You want the kids? Well okay! You now have them!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

            *sound of life being destroyed while it’s owner is foeced to watch*

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Does that mean I can move in now? We can listen to King Crimson all day long and eat fancy cheese.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            You’re a good man, you take the kida.

            Okay now, bye bye then.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Nope. I never said I was taking those kids. I’ll just put them in the orphanage if you don’t want them.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            In reply: I just left them at the orphanage. I’m lucky that I live across from there and I can just go to the airport and get a ticket down to Miami.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Just get them of me. Please!

            THEY’RE IN MY HAIR. THEY’RE IN MY HAIR.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            They can’t be in your hair, I just took them to the…I picked up the wrong kids to take to the orphanage. I’ll come get them to take them to the orphanage.

          • Death

            No, my other friend is moving in.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            When can I move in? 🙁

          • David Vincent’s Spandex Shirt

            Wow! You’re morbid too!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            It is the illusion of divine insanity that makes me so.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan
          • David Vincent’s Spandex Shirt

            But…but Death, I thought we had something special! (black tears run down my perfectly sculpted cheekbones) I thought we could have been morbid together!

          • Death

            You don’t want to be with me. I’m trouble.

          • David Vincent’s Spandex Shirt

            I’m morbid.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            Goddamnit. Don’t quote that awful song. I hate that song more than any other song on Illud Divinum Insanus.

          • Death

            Did you kill a cop?

          • David Vincent’s Spandex Shirt

            Whoa! No, that would be too extreme.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            There there. I’m sure there’s someone out there who will want to be morbid with you. I’m sure that person will tell you that everything you ever made was the best thing ever. I am not that person because Illud Divinum Insanus was one of the worst if not the worst metal album ever.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            The proof is as airtight as a Finnish airlock

          • KJM

            “I like griping” Lambert in Alien.

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Need to play this. I loved Dead Space.

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    Goddamnit Bob. He probably enjoys our fear.

    • KJM

      Seriously, fuck that guy.

  • “It really made me want to go back and watch the original film again.”
    …and you loved it?

  • KJM

    Face Huggers too? Fuck that noise all to Hell. I will not go near those damned eggs without a fucking serious weapon.

  • Gurp

    So, what I’m gathering from this is, its as good as we hoped?

    • It’s my goty, kicked mordor off it’s pedestal one week after.

      • Gurp

        Mordor was good, then? I was interested, but I read some mixed reviews.

        • Mordor was/is fucking phenomenal. I haven’t beat it yet cause of alien but I will definitely do so. The Nemesis System is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a game.

          • Gurp

            Shit. Wish I had the time…

    • Scrimm

      It’s great.

      • Gurp

        Fucking A.

  • Scrimm

    I cant wait for the Evil Within tomorrow.

    • I’ve got it all pre loaded and ready to play at midnight tonight

      • Scrimm

        I want to do that but I have some stuff to trade so I may wait and get a physical copy tomorrow. If I can resist.

        • I traded my copy of destiny for steam credit lol.

  • Gurp

    Also, if/when I get this game, I probably won’t be enjoying it to it’s fullest, cuz my surround sound is busted and I’m a little weary of using my Afterglow headset now because of hearing damage.

  • Stockhausen

    Fun read, even as a non-gamer!

  • IronLawnmower

    I cannot tolerate horror games. Horror movies don’t even phase me but horror games can just stay away. Also how come in the video bob wasn’t attacking the human walking around?

    • KJM

      It was a robot. Bob doesn’t care about them apparently.

  • JWG

    You guys and your now current gen games. I was 6 years late to the last one, and damnit i plan on sticking with it until I’ve totally mastered all the games on my list I have now or have yet to play with my ever-dwindling free time.

    So basically I’ll be ready for a ps4 some time around 2030.

  • KJM

    Did somebody say ‘Bob’?

  • KJM

    Did somebody say ‘Bob’??

  • KJM

    Stupid Disqus.