Alien: Isolation review: The best, most terrifying Alien experience in nearly 30 years

Alien: Isolation has its issues, but by-and-large it’s the best stealth game of the year and a stunning tribute to Ridley Scott’s universe.

“This is about survival!” a thin, twitchy guy named Axel yelled in my face, and it was at that very moment I knew he was going to die.

And he did. Like some sort of gruesome magic trick, an enormous spike burst out of Axel’s chest. He looked down at it with probably a great deal more shock than I did. I know the rules. I know you can’t say “This is about survival,” in a horror game without an ironic death shortly thereafter.

Apparently Axel wasn’t a fan of the genre.

Leave me alone

Alien: Isolation is in an intriguing position, coming as it does after the widely-panned Aliens: Colonial Marines. Much has been made of the fact that this is an Alien game and not an Aliens game. Sure, the two are part of the same franchise, but the film Aliens took the brooding survival horror framework of Ridley Scott’s original Alien and replaced it with bombast. (Yes, I’m sure you can tell I prefer Alien.)

And Creative Assembly made the most of that name. “It’s Alien, not Aliens,” they repeated over and over. Isolation was meant to shy away from the excess of Colonial Marines, instead opting for a tense first-person survival horror experience, replete with a deadly and (above all) smart alien that hunted poor Amanda Ripley around the creaking corridors of the space station Sevastopol.

It’s an excellent premise—reestablish the alien as a foreign and fearsome foe, cold and emotionless. You spend most of Isolation crouched, frantically crawling from hiding spot to hiding spot and hoping against hope you can make it to the next save point.

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