Is Alien: Isolation a Risk?

Is Alien: Isolation a Risk?

Alien: Isolation has been unofficially tasked with wiping away the dirt that was Colonial Marines. There’s seems to be a stark difference between the tones of Isolation and Colonial Marines, in the same way that Alien and Aliens were utterly different. Isolation isn’t playing it safe however. Survival horror is a slowly dying genre, only kept on life support by mostly indie developers and nostalgia, and in the grand scheme of things it is seen as something of a niche market. In that regard, there’s an element of risk to Isolation‘s concept.

Isolation has stripped away everything that Alien titles have been lumbered with thus far. Gone are the marines and the one-liners. Gone are the pulse rifles and smart guns. Replacing them? Just you and a lone Xenomorph. The threat that Xenomorphs once carried has been almost quashed in nearly every game released that features them since Alien Vs Predator 2. It’s about time H.R. Giger’s creation was given its menace back, and Isolation seems more than willing to oblige.

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Taking notes from the likes of Amnesia, Isolation could be the first mainstream horror title that attracts and appeases the masses. The recent slew of modern horror titles has often left fans underwhelmed by the sheer amount of set pieces and action forming the core of the experience, with horror only being a minor element. Given Isolation‘s approach to horror, and the weight of the license, the untapped market of those who haven’t played true horror games will surely be tapped into at last.

There is a generation of gamers who have been brought up to think horror is merely gore and jump scares, both in cinema and videogames. This is where a problem could arise. Are the masses prepared to adopt to a style that most of them have never tried before? Is it too big of an ask for people to drop their guns and their ability to kill in favor of an ability to run? Isolation could be construed as a risk. Low sales in today’s videogame industry can result in some disastrous repercussions, with job loses and studio closures being the worst of the worst.

On the other hand, the risk could lead to a huge success. The market is there. The fanbase is hungry. There will of course be a dark cloud hanging over Isolation; the damage that Colonial Marines did didn’t just hurt Gearbox, it hurt the entire brand. Isolation, if it’s a success, could be the spark for more genuine horror titles being made by big studios, as well as regaining confidence from the public when it comes to the Alien brand. Failure could result a number of things, with the most worrying being the fact a risk (rarely taken in modern games) has failed, and the status quo of playing it safe remains at the highest level.

Sean Halliday


2 Comments

  1. Justin Ross
    January 9, 2014, 11:15 pm

    Amnesia meets the Alien series?

    I can handle this. I hate saying I’m gonna remain skeptical but I’m going to. Then again, who knows. It could be marvelous for all we know.

  2. Curt
    January 10, 2014, 11:15 am

    “Playing it safe”is probably one of the industries biggest problems at the moment. Every company plays it safe, mass-producing repetitive tried-and-true titles year after year in the vein of games that came before it, giving us hardly any innovation or creativity.
    We should applaud the efforts of any team willing not only to strike out of their comfort zone with someone different (Total War could hardly be a more different series) but goes against the traditional grain of gaming to attempt something different and innovative.
    We haven’t heard much, and there is inherent risk here yes – mostly for the fans. We put our hearts into the fake fanboy drivel Randy Pitchford sold us, and for a lot of gamers it got broken, hard. But Creative Assembly seems to understand this very fact, as well as have a much deeper understanding of the beloved franchise and what they’re dealing with, and it’s these points that allow me to shake a little of the skepticism and dare to hope. Could it be, at the end of this year, we’ll finally be playing the true ALIEN experience so many of us for years have dreamed of?
    I doubt SEGA would let the same thing happen twice – A:CM was an absolute PR disaster for them. Is it a risk – perhaps, for the fans to trust yes, but it’s a risk I’m glad they’re taking and I’ll support them to whatever end comes of it.

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