E3 2014: Alien: Isolation Preview: Survival horror's new generation
- Posted June 16th, 2014 at 00:56 EDT by Ernest Lin
Sound design is an important tool to draw out fear in players and I was soon reaffirmed of that fact as I slowly made my way through the station. The noisy rumblings of machinery made Isolation’s space station feel like a cold, empty place. I nervously moved Amanda forward, ever so concerned that her steps may attract an Alien. To help avoid trouble, the motion tracker can be pulled out, but then the game’s view focuses on the device and your surroundings appear blurry. Switching between sensing your environment and checking the motion tracker is crucial to steering clear of danger. But players are only human and will get detected by the Alien, as I soon did. Luckily, Amanda can hide in a number of spots: cabinets, lockers, under beds, and under desks, to name a few. These moments can be the most anxiety-ridden in Isolation, as the game doesn’t allow you to passively sit there while the Alien sniffs near your hiding spots. You will need to continue using your controller to make Amanda hold her breath or risk getting caught.
What I played was a short Challenge mission requiring me to get from point A and B. Even this brief experience pointed out potential problems the final game may have. Firstly, for a title running on PlayStation 4, Alien: Isolation’s visuals are rough around the edges. Textures are somewhat low-detail, for example. Many would probably mistake it for being a last-generation game. From a gameplay perspective, I wonder if there will be enough variety to keep players interested and not quit out of frustration. The one-hit KO from the Alien and heavy requirement for careful stealth made my playtime with Isolation very much a trial-and-error experience. Encountering an Alien the first several times may prove to be exhilirating, yet I question the game’s ability to maintain its scariness after watching Amanda get devoured dozens of times. Some may see it as a challenge, but others may find it to be torture and tire of the hopelessness.
That’s not to say Alien: Isolation is a lost cause, because there are signs of potential. However, like how Amanda Ripley must traverse around the station, tread carefully when it comes to building your excitement for the game. Otherwise, you might be left yelling in disappointment when it launches. And in space, no one can hear you scream.----
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