After months of rampant Internet speculation, Sega has finally revealed that Alien: Isolation is the new title in the Alien(s) franchise, and that it's being developed by Creative Assembly, the studio behind the Total War series. True to its non-plural namesake, Isolation will be a survival horror game in the same vein as Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece.
Alien: Isolation tells the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the movie series' protagonist, Ellen Ripley. Amanda has been plagued since childhood by the mysterious disappearance of her mother after the loss of the Nostromo. Amanda, now a Weyland-Yutani employee herself, is tipped off that a space station has recovered the audio log detailing the events of the Nostromo. She journeys with a team to the space station, only to find that a Xenomorph has gotten there first and is wreaking havoc.
If the subject material sounds a tad unfamiliar, that's because it is. Alien lore details almost nothing about the life of Amanda Ripley. By choosing her as the protagonist, Creative Assembly wisely put itself into a position to craft its own story. It doesn't need to worry too much about staying true to source material, or heaven forbid, boast about being canon; it's all tangential which gives the studio room to work with.
One thing that Creative Assembly emphasized was that it wanted its project to have the same feel as Ridley Scott's Alien. To do this, it needed to make the Xenomorph a formidable foe, and to nail the survival horror elements -- all signature characteristics of the original movie.
Isolation will feature just one Alien that hunts the player throughout the game. It's a terrifying beast, standing approximately nine feet tall and constantly looking to feast on Ms. Ripley. Creative Assembly designed the Xeno to be sense-driven rather than pattern-based, meaning that it's always reacting to the player which makes it completely unpredictable. At no time will the player feel safe and comfortable when this thing's in the room.
Adding to the tension is the first-person viewpoint. Alien: Isolation started out as a third-person game, until a playtester began messing around with the dev tools. He swung the camera all the way into the character's head and looked at the Alien close up. He promptly showed the team, and it was a no-brainer to switch to a first-person view, as it added exponentially to the immersion, and thereby the overall scariness.
Maybe the most telling fact about Creative Assembly's commitment to Alien: Isolation is that it will solely feature a single-player campaign. The developers said that they felt that they could either focus their efforts on stellar single-player, or a decent campaign and a decent multiplayer mode. They decided to go for broke and do their best at making the game that they want to make.
And that's exactly what they're doing. They want to get back to the roots of survival horror. They want to make a Xenomorph that strikes the same fearsome chord as Ridley Scott's. And most importantly, they want to scare the living hell out of you.
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