Halloween… the most ageist holiday ever invented. When people my age want free candy, they think us weird or creepy, or perhaps mentally challenged. Just for wanting free candy. Who doesn’t want free candy? So year after year instead of eating free candy adults turn to expensive liquor and look for frights on the big and small screen. The smart ones turn off the lights so those damned kids don’t come hassling for free candy. This year in honour of whatever it is we are celebrating by scaring the piss out of ourselves, I’ve been celebrating my favourite sci-fi/horror flick Alien in a new terrifying interactive way with Alien: Isolation on my new (ish) PS4.
(Check out Re:Views Staffs’ picks for best Horror movies here.)
Alien: Isolation is by no means a perfect game; it can be a bit slow to get going and it’s first-person, but it still puts the survival back in survival horror. Too often in “horror” games like the modern Resident Evil franchise, bullets are everywhere and there is no need to run for your life as you have more guns than Rambo with enough ammo decimate a small country. Resident Evil may have started survival horror, but Alien: Isolation is the one keeping ammo low, and the beast big and bad enough that running and hiding/crying is the only option (Sorry Silent Hills, but you don’t exist). I don’t think I’ve found more than a couple bullets for my magnum at a time, and firing it at this guy would just be pointless.
The baddest Alien in the galaxy isn’t the only frightening part of the game, even if it is the main source of scares. There are androids walking around looking far less advanced than we’re used to in this franchise. With flat, pale faces and eyes that light up, chasing after you with that steady constant walk, and they are savage. They like to choke, punch, and lift you by the throat and smash your head against the wall if you interfere with their business. Talk about tough to kill. I’m almost through the game on normal difficulty and I’ve only killed one homicidal android; it took two shocks from a cattle prod, an EMP mine, and two magnum bullets to the head. All of the items listed above are in extremely short supply, and taking out more than a couple in this fashion would not be possible, and there are dozens of these jerks operational on the space station where 90% of the game takes place.
What’s really great about Alien: Isolation is it is a great companion piece to the original Alien. It follows the story of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, as she is sent by “the company” to go get the black box from Ellen’s ship the Nostromo. So it is the kind of sequel we never got with Aliens, as it ends up being very similar to the original. Of course as a movie, this story would have just been as much a rehash sequel as Halloween H20, but as an interactive experience it is exactly what you want after watching Alien.
The game’s bonus content is available on all platforms and lets you play as characters from the original film and crawl around in the Nostromo’s air vents playing cat and mouse with the alien, so check that off my childhood to do list. And of course the motion sensor from Aliens plays a key role as you run and sneak your way around (check that too). The PS4 controller flashes light when it is in use adding extra incentive to turn the lights down as you play for added creepiness.
As seen in the super-cut of death below, the fun part about Isolation isn’t surviving. If you played through with no deaths, you would barely see the beast. The fun of Alien: Isolation is you never know when you are going to die. The alien won’t necessarily be in the same spot when you respawn from your last save point, and there are enough creepy hallways, rooms and vents that each time you try to get through an area there are lots of options to die or survive. Imagine trying to get through the original Resident Evil mansion with random zombie spawn points and no weapon powerful enough to take them down. The best bet you have will be a flamethrower that you won’t get until late in the game and even then it will just send the beast back in the vents for a short time.
It may not be the same as the Halloween candy gorge that isn’t an option until you can steal candy from your own kids as they sleep, but Alien: Isolation is a great game to give yourself the thrills and chills that adult Halloween is all about. So save often, don’t let your pants get wet, and never, ever play after midnight.