How Aliens: Infestation aims to make 2D pixels scare you

It would have been easy for WayForward to make Aliens: Infestation a straight scrolling shooter, but the studio hopes to raise the bar and make a game that’s genuinely pants-wettingly scary. In a new developer blog, director Adam Tierney talks about making the Xenos frightening.

“Regarding visibility, we felt that if we could prevent players from seeing their adversaries, or seeing the full environment around them, it would make them apprehensive about moving forward (in spite of the pixel art style),” he said. “This was accomplished first, and most directly, by occasionally turning the lights out. Many areas of the game are completely dark, and block the player from progressing until they’ve located a portable light source. Even then, the flashlight (once located) will only shine a thin beam forward, in the direction the character is currently facing. 

He also revealed that Xenomorphs appear in two ways — either slinking out from walls (like the escape pod scene in Alien or the first Xeno ambush in Aliens) or bursting from air vents. In the case of the former, the Aliens will be visible — just expertly camouflaged in the architecture. Players won’t be sure if they’re looking at an Alien or not, which is something I’m surprised more games haven’t exploited. 

Aliens: Infestation is out October 11. It’s on track to be one of my favorites this year.

James Stephanie Sterling