back to article Real world not giving you enough anxiety? Try being hunted down by the perfect organism in Alien: Isolation

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Not that anybody noticed but we skipped the last edition for a number of reasons. 1) Too many betas. Though we were monitoring developments in potential World of Warcraft killer New World and Left 4 Dead's spiritual successor, Back 4 …

  1. Chewi
    Go

    Keep moving!

    I've been playing this on and off over the years, not sticking to it because I found it so brutal. I think I had it on Hard to start with, then lowered it to Medium, but still struggled. It was only a few weeks ago that I realised what I'd been doing wrong all this time. Having left it for so long, I'd forgotten exactly what I was supposed to be doing so I watched a video on YouTube to recap. I watched in amazement as this player strutted around the ship without a care in the world, and no alien in sight. Surely they were playing it on easy? Apparently not. Just to check, I watched another video and saw much the same thing. I then tried this for myself, not slowly inching around the place, but casually walking about, just doing what I needed to do. I made it to the next save point without incident on the first attempt, despite having failed dozens of times before. Honestly, I was gobsmacked. It turns out that the alien takes time to home in on you. Stay in one room too long and it'll certainly find you. Keep moving and you'll probably be fine. I haven't had time to go back to it yet, but when I do, I'll probably crank it up to Hard again.

    1. Bongwater

      Re: Keep moving!

      Is is as hard as XCOM TFTD?

      I swear the first two difficulties you can do but on Superhuman its like you have to save after every action.

      Tanking in WoW BC pre nerf in Shattered Hall as a warrior tank is probably my greatest video game achievement after beating Ninja Gaiden on NES with no cheats.

      Honorable mention to Wizardy 5 Maelstrom.

  2. The Dogs Meevonks
    Gimp

    One of the best horror games ever made

    I remember playing this game, and I remember feeling rather on edge whilst doing so... and I'm a now 42yr old man who's not afraid of much.

    I was sat here playing one evening, it was still daylight when I started... but the evening drew in and it got dark... I'd not put any lights on yet, and no one else was in the house that night.

    I heard a noise from the spare bedroom.

    I froze in my seat... hairs on the back of my neck and arms raised... a chill ran down my spine.

    I didn't move for what seemed like ages.

    I slowly got up and walked across my home office and onto the landing.

    Quickly hit the light switch, pulled the spare bedroom fully closed and ran back into my office.

    I'll admit it... I was scared... and it was this game that put me in that frame of mind.

    Any game that can do that to you... is worth the price in my book. The fact that game was visually stunning, very engaging (albeit a little too linear for my liking) and kept you on the edge of your seat is a bonus.

    I've not played it in years... perhaps it's time to fire up steam and reinstall it... got a much more powerful system since 2014 and can now play in 1440p 144hz with all settings cranked to the max.

    If you don't hear from me for a few days... it got me.

    Icon... because it's the most alien like one I could choose. :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One of the best horror games ever made

      I was playing Alien vs Predator a few years ago, like you in the dark.

      Bloody moth flew in front of me....Ended up blowing myself up trying to shoot a real life moth with an in game weapon....

  3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    Tips for a long and healthy

    life

    Dont play Alien:Isolation in the dark when you have sadistic housemates

    That is all.

    <<needed a de-fib and clean underwear afterwards........

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have you tested it on Parallels hosted Windows?

    On an M1 Mac? Enquiring minds…

    1. Chewi

      Re: Have you tested it on Parallels hosted Windows?

      It natively supports MacOS and Reddit tells me the Steam version works fine on the M1.

      I play it on Linux and it runs great there too. I have had the odd issue over the years but I think they were entirely driver-related, and not the game's fault.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have you tested it on Parallels hosted Windows?

        Thanks. Argh - missed the little grey box with list of platforms. All games should be like this.

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    Bizarrely, the base game really isn't for me, despite the original alien being a very easy tie for favourite film of all time. I made it to maybe 3/4 of the way through the plot at which point the incessant hunting by the alien stops you from exploring Sevastopol got too much of a drag. The frustration born of endless reloading and ineffective tools stopped being fun.

    Enter a mod that stops the alien from moving. as bizarre as it sounds, this made the tail end of the game massively more enjoyable. Funny how exploring the alien universe is way more fun than being on the receiving end of being hunted by the alien.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spectrum game

    There was an Alien game released on the Spectrum in the early 80s that I can vaguely remember I enjoyed playing.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Spectrum game

      One of my all time favourites from the Good Old Days(tm), certainly in terms of atmosphere and rising sense of dread, was the Aliens total conversion Doom mod. Spent many a happy hour scared out of my wits as the team commander nervously warned me to "stay on target".

      Hmmm.. might be time to dig out the USB stick and fire up DosBox.

  7. Aseries

    The ALIEN xenomorph is real.

    The ALIEN xenomorph is a fictionalized version of the real thing. A species of black wasp found in Australia that injects eggs into caterpillars where the larvae eat there way through the host. The parasite can actually brainwash the host to defend the nest. A species of the wasp played a major role in the Norwegian horror series FORTITUDE.

    https://www.amazon.com/Fortitude-Stanley-Michael-Gambon-Richard/dp/B00R0419HW/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3FIHQ8UPFXV95&dchild=1&keywords=fortitude+season+3&qid=1630209212&sprefix=fortitude%2Caps%2C198&sr=8-3

    1. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

      Re: The ALIEN xenomorph is real.

      Maybe it is just me, but the Norwegians seem to be really good at horror - death metal, etc.

  8. Stumpy
    Alien

    Rather than play the base game, get the mods that allow it to run in VR. Puts a whole different spin on it -- I modded it not long after it first released and played through my DK2 ... man, was it terrifying!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I read an article a few years ago when Alien Isolation was new from a VR headset manufacturer (think it might have been the Oculus Rift) where they ran the game at demo sessions.

      They said they had people tear the head sets off and run away screaming, and panicked.

      There was some discussion at the time among game producers that games may need to tone the shocks down a little as there was the very real fear of scaring someone to death, and the resultant legal issues.

  9. CAPS LOCK

    I won't be playing it...

    ...just reading the article made me anxious.

  10. Tessier-Ashpool

    I lived it for real

    In my student days, not long after the release of Alien, I had a summer job doing night-shift security work in a Silvertown paint factory. Man, it was like the spitting image of the Nostromo interior in that place. Dark, pipes everywhere, blinking lights, claustrophobic corridors, cavernous rooms full of oily machinery, strange noises, an oddball technician doing experiments in a lab somewhere. On my hourly patrols, the Alien was on my mind most of the time. My nerves weren’t helped when, very occasionally, one of the few night workers would randomly appear out of nowhere. That job really scared me.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    game immersion

    "The flicking of pages and glow from the big screen are gentle reminders that you are "safe". But gaming, as a far more immersive and active (dare I say) art form, is too real. Done well, your body and mind can forget that you're not actually about to be murdered – at least in my case."

    So true. Back in the years of Alone in the Dark, things were really relaxed. With the likes of L4D1/2, and Alien Isolation, this is no longer the case at all.

    Just by watching a friend playing Isolation, I knew it wasn't for me. Too scary.

    Back in the years, I stopped playing Left for Dead 2 because of the level of stress when I was hearing the directional sound of a Hunter or the music of the Tank.

    And what to say of the Witch ? Very OP. Glad they got rid of this in Back 4 Blood !

    But still I reckon L4D2 and Isolation are excellent games. I'll probably buy Back 4 Blood and play it when it exits beta.

    Good article and really spot on !

  12. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    That reminds me...

    It's been on my 'to finish' list for far too long.

    I have however upgraded to a better graphics, sound and monitor since I last tried. And now have a small, claustrophobic room with my pc set up in...

    I might have to find some time when the wife and kids are elsewhere and try again (I do hope it supports ultrawide... And the new headphones should help pick out the slightest of sounds now).

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: That reminds me...

      ... the new headphones should help pick out the slightest of sounds now

      You say that like it's a GOOD thing?

  13. Greg Dolph

    Awesome game, wish there were more like that

    I completely agree that the aesthetics alone makes this game worth playing as it nails the look, sounds and atmosphere of the Alien movie. It's also got great mechanics, plot and gameplay. I found the Working Joes almost as creepy as the alien itself, in fact I think they were a great idea as it allowed the designers to save the alien for the scariest bits. I'm going to do another run-through at some point.

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