We’ve seen a lot of video games based on the Aliens film franchise, starting with the original Alien that came to the Atari 2600 back in ’82. While I would like to say they have been a mixed bag, I fear that would be far too kind. For the most part, the games have been awful. Like, not even worth a rental, even if you’re a fan of the fiction, like me. Recently, the series has seen a resurgence, yet, somehow, the developers making them have managed to take impressive steps backwards with their recent efforts, which includes the ridiculously unbalanced Alien vs. Predator and the embarrassment that was Aliens: Colonial Marines.
It looks like the next game — and potential disappointment — will follow Ellen Ripley’s daughter. It’s called Alien: Isolation and from what little we’ve seen of it so far, it looks promising. Of course, Colonial Marines looked promising too, and we all know how that turned out.
I’m a glass half full kind of guy, so I’ve decided to embrace — and possibly rekindle — the dying flame of hope I still have in this series by coming up with some ideas that I think could help make this game successful. Check out my list of 5 things I’d like to see from Alien: Isolation after the break!
You would think this would be a no-brainer, but despite being based on a series of terrifying films, the video games have been largely void of any real scares. On top of that, the films ooze atmosphere while the games have been more focused on herding us into one lazily crafted gunfight after another. Whether Isolation is aiming for a haunted house feel in the same vein as the original movie or the action/horror approach we saw in its sequel, this game needs to be scary.
If Isolation is to be successful in this endeavor, the first thing they’ll need to tackle is making the alien scary again. I killed so many of them in the last few games that they’re about as scary as a zombie is in Dead Rising. Make them formidable foes again, deadly (and intelligent) hunters that need to be feared. They’re like Velociraptors, only cooler.
This is essentially an extension of the last point. In Colonial Marines, you spent a large majority of your time mowing down soldiers, popping from one waist high object to another as you picked off the embarrassingly poor AI until the game felt you had endured enough tedium to progress to the next level. It was boring and uninspired and it made the game feel like a generic military shooter, only with less (i.e. none) of the polish and refined mechanics that many games in that genre tend to possess.
I’m not saying human enemies should be removed entirely, but they also should not be a focus here. I want to solve puzzles, explore unfamiliar worlds and environments and completely lose my shit when a Xenomorph crawls out of a vent, much like a Necromorph, to sneak up behind me so it can do whatever aliens do to unsuspecting soldiers.