Alien: Isolation dev explains how it’ll sustain fear through whole experience

Wednesday, 26th March 2014 11:07 GMT By Dave Cook

Alien: Isolation developer The Creative Assembly is taking the horror approach to its licensed tie-in. Senior designer Gary Napper and art lead Jude Bond have discussed how the team has worked to sustain a feeling of fear and dread throughout the whole experience.

It follows confirmation that the Alien: Isolation release date will be revealed at Rezzed 2014 in Birmingham this week.

OPM asked the duo how Creative Assembly will keep gamers on the edge from start to finish. Napper replied, “That’s everybody’s first question. How can we maintain that tension for the length of the campaign? And it’s just down to the game design, balancing, the flow of the story and the mechanics, when you introduce things to the player. Obviously, we work in peaks and troughs with our approach to the action. How often you’re against the alien, and how often we show it. A lot of it is down to how the player feels like they want to play.

Bond added, “The player is one of the things that’s really unpredictable, and you can’t always tell what they’re going to do. So we’ve got an alien that can act in a nice way and support that. So when the alien is prowling around in the ceiling just under the vents, if you make a lot of noise it does come down. So you have some players who will sprint through the level, collecting things, scavenging in the world and trying to defend themselves, yet other players will take that careful slow approach, gripping the motion tracker for dear life and just getting through it.

“That’s been reflected today in the styles of the playthroughs. A couple of guys managed to do it with just one or two kills, only died a couple of times. Most people died between eight to 12 times, and there’s other people who spent the entire hour playing it and died 30 times or something. They took off their headphones and said, ‘That’s the most intense alien I’ve ever seen.’ They’re not getting frustrated about it either, which I’m so happy about.”

Alien: Isolation is indeed taking a free-form approach that will see players evading the alien and exploring their surroundings at a custom pace, similar to the Amnesia title.s It remains to be seen if the tension will indeed hold up for the duration, but we’ll know more once it launches on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One this year.



  1. TheWulf

    The problem with that was that the aliens lost their scariness in Aliens, which established that the reason that they were so pissed at us was because we were capturing and experimenting on them (trying to turn them into weapons). Xenomorphs are just exotic, alien, semi-intelligent animals, which is frankly by far the most interesting thing they could be after the revelations of Aliens.

    Trying to ramp up fear after a certain point just becomes schlock, this is exactly what James Cameron understood with Aliens, and that’s why he took the franchise in that particular direction, since it opens up a whole new tree of intelligent directions which the franchise could have branched off into, rather than just turning into a worthless pile of schlockiness aimed at the lowest common denominator.

    That’s exactly what Prometheus was, honestly, which is why any real alien fan doesn’t accept it as canon. I mean, the completely ridiculous handling of the space jockeys and the whole “It was a helmet! They looked EXACTLY LIKE US all alooong! Woooow! This guy must have been eating at Burger King when he was jumped by EBIL BLACK ALIEN GOOOOOO!!!” line of rot. So schlocky.

    The problem with the Aliens games is that they’re not exploring the wonderful plotlines that JC provided them with in Aliens, they could branch out from that and do different things, they could even have one such experiment go wild and interact with the existing xenomorphs in unexpected ways. They could have done that, but no, it seems like they’re following the Prometheus line of schlock horror.

    This is the problem with horror, you can only manufacture it for so long before something becomes familiar and, at that point, you either need to explain what’s going on in an intelligent way, or you just devolve into schlock horror and keep it that way. But eventually it becomes more of an obvious joke if you do that, which means that people are going to be more amused than scared. (See: Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and so many other victims of this.)

    I’m actually sad that they’re going this way, since there’s definitely an avenue there for a more intelligent Alien game. I’m hoping one day to see that game. Or film. A film would be good, too.

    #1 9 months ago

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