Little dots of fear: Alien Isolation

Alien Isolation - Motion Scanner

As more details about Alien Isolation come skittering out of vents and leaping on our unsuspecting bodies I’ve gone from cynical to curious to cautiously optimistic, and now thanks to Rock Paper Shotgun’s hands-on I’m outright excited.

Bad news first – I’m still not sold on the number of humans who’ll be in the game, and the attendant amount of combat there’ll be, but then I suppose you need a change of pace and a palate-cleanser every now and then. I’ll also grudgingly admit that it allows for a wider range of mechanics and strategies. It still undermines the “Isolation” theme though.

BUT! The core mechanics and the fear it entails sounds outright amazing:

But you can also know where it and other threats are at any time simply by raising the motion tracker. The world fades away and is replaced by a bright screen of information, and though there’s a trade-off of losing the view of your immediate surroundings, it was a comfort that I used liberally. There’s no cheating going on with the creature, and that’s important. It moves through vents, keeping to a path that you can’t see, following its senses.

But what really sold me on the game was one line describing the end of a three-way conflict between player, alien and looters:

I pulled up the motion detector and watched as a small group of dots fled a larger one. One by one the smaller dots winked out.

That’s what makes Alien and Aliens so scary. The creatures are fearsome when seen and terrifying when not. But the motion tracker brings the two together and raises the tension to a whole new level: being aware of the threat through the cold, mechanical eyes of a fuzzy display. The iconic little noise that pierces the silence. “Threat”, it says. “Fear”.

I suspect that capturing that alone will make the game everything it needs to be.

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