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

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.

About the Author

Dave Cook avatar

Dave Cook


Living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Writing a game called Jettison and a book called Seventh Circle. Loves spicy food.

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