Friday, October 10, 2014


I like things of a dark and disturbing nature. Arts that are viscerally disturbing fascinate me for some reason, and I'm not quite sure why. When it comes to horror, I'd much rather have something of a psychological scare then a jump-out-of-shadows-"Made you shit yourself haha!" scare. So the 'Silent Hill' series and myself were made for each other. Each trek into Silent Hill brings new disturbing images and experiences that are much more beautifully disturbing then gory, and a sound design that compliments the images 100%. If I were forced to pick my #1 game series of all time, 'Silent Hill' wins.

And then a few months ago I finally got to check out 'Dead Space', and I met my #2 series of all time. It's very much like 'Silent Hill' in terms of mood and atmosphere, and sound design, but admittedly it is more gore the psychological. But it's done brilliantly.

So it was with high hopes that I fired up 'Alien: Isolation' for the first time on my PS3 the other night. I'd been excited for the game for awhile, and was hoping to death it would do Ridley Scott's 'Alien' justice, as well as prove to be a disturbing and dark and (most importantly) fun video game experience. It not only does Ridley's film justice, it could easily be mistaken for being helmed by him. The starting pace is just as much of a slow and sturdy buildup as his film that I was chain smoking maybe 15 minutes into it, and I hadn't even seen anyone or anything yet. I could definitely hear something though.

Many times while walking down an empty corridor crouched low to the ground so as not to attract too much attention to myself, I could hear various bumps in the air duct above me, following my every step. The sound design of this game is great, and my one regret about playing this game is I'm not at home to enjoy it in surround sound. When I say "sound design" I don't just mean the sound effects themselves. They are excellent, no surprise since they are (thankfully) the exact same ones used in Ridley's film, but what I mean in this instance is use. The corridors of Sevastopol Station are long and tight, and the sounds will drift down the corridors towards you. And when the Alien (I've named him Marvin) is moving around in one of those corridors, you know it. If he's angry, that is.

As of this writing, Marvin hasn't got me yet in the main campaign. When I've met him so far, he's angry, but also curious and cautious. Things intrigue him and he doesn't seem to mind having a look around. His footsteps are fairly soft, given his size, and his breathing is somewhat calm. It's easy to sneak around him. The tricky part is knowing where he's at (at the points where you don't have a motion tracker yet) when he's in this "calm" state.

The expansion "Crew Expendable", however, is a much different story. In it, he's very pissed off, very loud, and much more bloodthirsty. You could probably locate him easily without a motion tracker by just listening for him, but it'd be too late for you when you found him. In both settings he moves incredibly fast, and you're a one-hit kill from him. You have weapons, but they're no good on him. I've heard you can scare him away with the flamethrower but it hasn't worked for me yet. The Alien is FINALLY a 100% terrifying, ultra-violent killing machine again. Every time he strolls into the room you're in, or drops out of an air duct right in front of you, I dare you not to hold your breath or actually careen your neck to peek around the desk you're crouched behind onscreen. This is a terrifying creature in a terrifying environment, as it should be. And the androids and human scavengers aren't much better, either. But at least you can actually kill them.

I'm trying not to say much about it because this is a game I don't want to spoil for anyone that hasn't played it yet. I'm not reviewing it, these are merely my experiences and opinions of it thus far. I'm sorry if that makes this read a bit "What the fucking HELL is he talking about?!" and nonsensical. It's also very late, and I'm getting tired. But this is one of those games that I think every gamer, and even non-gamer HAS to play at some point. Out on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox 1, check it out.

After a few hours with it each night since it's release, I can officially say that 'Alien: Isolation' is the most intense and frightening game I've ever played. I haven't been afraid of a video game this much ever, not even for 'Silent Hill 2' or 'Dead Space'. And that's saying something.

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