#7 is another licensed IP game and one that everyone was expecting to fail. After the disaster of Alien Colonial Marine, the franchise seemed dead but Alien Isolation not only managed to revive it but also horror for AAA developers as well.
Alien Isolation is the AAA genre’s first attempt at real horror in a long time. Putting the player in the shoes of Amanda Ripley and forced to explore the ruined remains of a space station while a Xenomorph is after her.
This is the only AAA game released this year that went with a protagonist not centered around combat. While there are weapons and tools to use, combat should be avoided at all cost as to not alert the xenomorph to your presence.
Speaking of the Xenomorph, we finally have a horror game with a true alpha antagonist who actively tracks and hunts the player down and that alone gets it on this list. While the alien is guided by the unseen hands of the game designer, it will hunt for you and make sure that you are never considered safe.
I also have to give a shout out to the environmental detail as the game has a great aesthetic invoking that lived in dirty future of the original movie. It reminds me a lot of the Bioshock series in how so much of what’s going on is written into the environment.
There are only a few problems with Alien Isolation stemming from pacing. The game’s pace is very slow and there doesn’t appear to be enough content to keep the player going. After one run in and hide and seek with the alien, you will have seen the main hook of the game but still have hours to go. Playing as Ripley, she felt very bulky and tank like and the stealth elements could have been done a bit better. For instance, being able to actually hide around corners and behind objects instead of playing a guessing game as to whether you are safe or not.
But despite those issues, Alien Isolation is one of the best horror games released from either the AAA or Indie markets. I don’t know if there is enough here to do a sequel with the Alien IP but I do hope that developers were taking notes on how effective horror can be when you are dealing with something that isn’t locked to scripted events.
Up next we have a game that went the old school route with a modern twist.