Ripley Rumours: Creative Assembly’s Alien – Isolation

By Adam Smith on October 22nd, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

After Colonial Marines, Sega must have been briefly tempted to nuke the Alien license from on high. Hope remains, however, that the publisher hadn’t placed every grotesque Giger-egg in the same basket. Back in May 2011, Alec was visiting the total warriors of Creative Assembly when the studio’s work on the Alien (not plural) license was announced. “I’m told they’re adamant they’ll take their time over it”, he said, little realising that two years and more would pass before we mentioned the game again. Yesterday, Sega trademarked the name Alien: Isolation and Kotaku shared apparent details about the game that they received from ‘a person familiar with goings-on at Sega’. Follow me into the land of convincing rumours.

‘Isolation’ is a promising post-colon attachment and not only because it makes me think of my own idle thoughts about Alien. Here’s what Kotaku’s source shared with them:

…the protagonist of Alien: Isolation is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, the character that made Sigourney Weaver famous and kicked off the ubiquitous sci-fi franchise over 30 years ago. Amanda, who is mentioned in the special edition of Aliens as having died while Ellen was frozen in space, has not yet been the focus of any books, movies, or games in the Alien extended universe.

The ‘extended universe’ that surrounds any piece of fiction usually serves to dilute or pollute whatever was interesting about the fiction in the first place. It’s possible that the choice of protagonist will allow the game to explore Alien’s mother issues in an interesting way but the idea that all Ripleys are fated to encounter and (no doubt) destroy aliens feels all wrong. We’re already far past the point at which Alien was about a group of doomed industrial labourers in space but ‘Isolation’ from the crust of the accrued mythology would be a fine thing.

But then, excitement returns:

You, as Amanda, spend most if not all of the game on a single space station, according to our source. There’s only one alien for “most” of the game, our source said…

A game of hide, seek and escape in a single location against a single enemy? I shall pop the cork on this champ…

…you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.”

Remove the champagne and fetch a glass of lukewarm fruit cordial.

There are positives – Bioshock and Dishonored are mentioned as inspirations, as is Alien (again, without the plural). It is, as expected, a first-person game but despite the shooting of clones and soldiers, it won’t be all guns and grenades, with “both stealth and horror elements” core to the experience.

This 2011 quote from Tim Heaton, Creative Assembly’s studio head, is worth revisiting:

We want to make something that’s quite different – we’re not just wanting to take the license and knock out a licensed game, we want to make something really special out of it. So we’ve spent three years since Viking working on the technology, really bespoke for this genre of game, for what we’re making, and it feels really, really strong now.

Announcing immediately after Colonial Marines would probably have brought about dire associations but given how long ago Creative Assembly announced the game, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sega released details in the near future. They’ve definitely trademarked Alien: Isolation and this all sounds like a believable direction for the game, although Kotaku do point out that their information is six months old. Maybe those ‘clones and soldiers’ have been culled just a little. Maybe.

I didn’t fail to notice that only current and next-gen consoles are mentioned in Kotaku’s post but the lack of PC is just another grain in the pinch of salt. Whatever that means.

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80 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    I think using Ripley’s daughter is a bit hackneyed. What kind of wacky coincidence do they have to contrive that would have Ripley Jr. also end up clashing with the exact same xenos?

    Just make a new protagonist and tell her story. No need to shoehorn things into the plot in a lame attempt at fan pandering.

    • PeopleLikeFrank says:

      A bit like Gearbox’s Aliens being set on LV-426.

      Leave the existing fiction alone with your fanfic please, devs.

      • Nick says:

        which made even less sense considering it was obliterated.

        • P.Funk says:

          I dunno, unless LV-426 is exactly the size of Nebraska I would assume there’s a substantial amount of partially terra-formed xeno-tainted rock left to contrive canonically absurd coincidences.

          • mpk says:

            Canon gets a bit iffy when you start thinking about xenomorph numbers though, Even if you take “60, maybe 70 families” to mean two adults and two kids, that’s still less than 300 potential incubators. Add a nominal Weyland-Yutani administrative staff, say a third again the number of colonists, and we’re still less than 400 and even then you have to imagine that there would have wastage – i.e. humans that died before they could be implanted, implants that were unsuccesful (the woman the marines encounter, “Maracheck, John J. They killed him taking it off”).

            Think about the aliens killed by the marines in the first encounter in the reactor tower, killed in the tunnels by the sentry guns and then in the final confrontation in Operations. Finally consider how many would have been toasted by the nuke.

            How many were in Colonial Marines again? I think there may have been too many.

            Pardon me. Fanboy moment.

          • P.Funk says:

            @mpk

            I get what you’re saying. Far as I’m concerned there is a planet left, it wasn’t blown up. My sense from multiple watchings was that both the terraforming facility as well as the Alien 1 ship were both destroyed in the explosion (though I am no canon expert). This means you need some sort of contrivance to reintroduce the xenomorph to the environment, however the environment itself ought to still be there. I don’t think even in that future humans have developed easy ways to crack planets.

    • Wonderboy2402 says:

      I would have to agree that using Ripley’s daughter is a bit lame. There is however a lot of other source material available in the books and comics. The Earth hive series and aliens genocide were both really cool and yet unexplored topics.

      • Triangulon says:

        Agreed. This is an instance where the extended universe really adds to the fiction rather than diluting it as Adam suggests.

    • UmmonTL says:

      It’s not that much of a stretch to think that a daughter might look into what happened to her mother and encounter the aliens as a result. However I’m not totally familiar with the aliens storyline, did the daughter exist in/before the first movie and how long was Ripely drifting in cold-sleep before the second movie?
      This could lead to awesomeness with a grown-up daughter looking for her mother who’s biologically the same age. Or it might break the premise if the daughter should be long dead.

      • PikaBot says:

        Ripley’s daughter was like ten years old when she left to mine asteroids. Riply drifted through space for more than fifty years and by the time she was found and woken up her daughter was already dead. There is absolutely no reason to think she was anything but a normal girl whose mother went into space and never came back.

        I wouldn’t say it’s IMPOSSIBLE that there was another encounter with Xenomorphs between the two movies (covered up by the Company, of course) or that she was involved…but it’s a hell of a stretch, and an extremely questionable narrative choice.

        • UmmonTL says:

          While I agree that it’s a stretch, it’s not the worst kind of story they could do. And if the alternative is spacemarine no. 357 I prefer Ripley’s Daughter. It all depends on how it’s written and I’m not sure they can pull of a completely new character while still making it feel like an aliens game. Then again “shooting through clones and soldiers”
          ….

          One cool character to play would be one of the Bishop androids. They could have you being ripped apart and still crawling around, the humans sending you to do all the worst jobs. Not sure if you would still get the right atmosphere from it though.

  2. bladedsmoke says:

    “…you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.””

    Ahh, excellent. That’ll be a change of pace.

  3. amateurviking says:

    ‘…you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.’

    Why?

    • RedViv says:

      Because that is how we video gaming.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Had the same question when it was announced that combat would be a focus in Mirror’s Edge 2.

      • Don Reba says:

        I don’t remember this announcement. Sure, the trailer has combat, but I don’t think they outright said it was their focus.

    • JB says:

      It’s a XENOMORPH COMBAT WORLD, what do you expect? FLOWERS TO WOMANS?

      • lowprices says:

        Yes. A game in which you, a lone Xenomorph, have to woo a lady by way of stealthily delivering flowers and sincere poetry. If you are stealthy and charming enough she will fall for you, and you can announce your love to the world and have a wedding like Octodad. If you are seen before this point Michael Biehn will shoot you.

      • puppybeard says:

        Next they’ll want the aliens head to remind them of woman privates instead of men privates!

        • Don Reba says:

          You mean, like The Last of Us?

          • puppybeard says:

            Well I haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I’ve seen videos.

        • particlese says:

          And it’s not quite a head, but there were certain walls in Prey…

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Ah yes the vomiting anii. An inspired decor decision

        • DrScuttles says:

          Well, facehuggers do forcibly insert their vagina into your gaping maw.

          • The Random One says:

            Facehuggers are essentially nothing but genitals. They’re disgusting because, objectively speaking, genitals are disgusting.

          • puppybeard says:

            …and in the Alien franchise.

  4. Turkey says:

    I can’t believe they’re still not making a squad based tactical rpg even after the success of X-Com and buying up two of the most well known strategy game developers in the business.

    • bills6693 says:

      Yes, this. This would be a great use of their talents, and a great premise for a game. A more ‘scary’ form of XCOM, weak soldiers with basic weaponry, vs deadly alien. They could make it multi-leveled and very atmospheric, it could be a proper ‘terror’ experience. It could be wonderful.

      Maybe there is still one on the way? The last thing we really need is another generic FPS with an alien shoehorned in, I think. Furthurmore, I don’t think ANY of the material that creative assembley has made outside of the total war franchise has been very good, and even the TW games have, perhaps, been going downhill (at least in my own, subjective opinion).

      • Turkey says:

        Well, Sega’s also got Relic, so maybe they’re working on the license as well.

        Then again, they’ve already cancelled one Alien rpg, so I’m not keeping my hopes up.

      • SomeDuder says:

        It’s all so mindbogglingly bizarre, how these alien games keep missing the point. It’s like the people who decide on these things have never seen the movies. All they have to do is pop in the alien marathon boxset, heat some popcorn and jot down the key elements of each movie.

        Here, I’ll fucking do it for them:

        Alien: Claustrophobic hide-and-seek, improvised weapons. Single yet tough opponent.
        Aliens: Well-trained combat unit vs overwhelming odds
        Alien3: Same as 1, except with more bald dudes. Maybe some improvised barricading/mystery solving
        Alien ressurection: haha yea lets not even go there.

        The first Alien vs Predator game was great, in terms of atmosphere/setting as well as the species. Can’t be that hard to improve on such an old game. Or can it? Ah fuck it, I’ll just rewatch the movies.

        • UmmonTL says:

          Maybe they do base it on resurrection and it’s the half-alien clones of Ripley you are shooting besides the soldiers. That would be awe…
          no still awful.

        • DiamondDog says:

          Alien Resurrection: Try and recreate the awesomeness of Ron Perlman in video game form.

      • mcindex says:

        Speaking of which, does anyone remember Incubation: Time is Running Out?

        Oh god, I just remembered the rap theme song.

    • SomeDuder says:

      It’s all so mindbogglingly bizarre, how these alien games keep missing the point. It’s like the people who decide on these things have never seen the movies. All they have to do is pop in the alien marathon boxset, heat some popcorn and jot down the key elements of each movie.

      Here, I’ll fucking do it for them:

      Alien: Claustrophobic hide-and-seek, improvised weapons. Single yet tough opponent.
      Aliens: Well-trained combat unit vs overwhelming odds
      Alien3: Same as 1, except with more bald dudes. Maybe some improvised barricading/mystery solving
      Alien ressurection: haha yea lets not even go there.

      The first Alien vs Predator game was great, in terms of atmosphere/setting as well as the species. Can’t be that hard to improve on such an old game. Or can it? Ah fuck it, I’ll just rewatch the movies.

      • Jonfon says:

        No offense but isn’t that exactly what Gearbox tried to do (badly) with Colonal Marines . ‘Draw inspiration’ from the Aliens film and have you and a bunch of marines against overwhelming odds.

        And yet it still came across as crappy fanfic wrapped in an awful, crappy game.

        • kevmscotland says:

          I think the larger issue was the hype train that Gearbox themselves created with what looked like a far well more executed “Demonstration” of the game….. only to release something that didn’t even relate.

          People can swallow a poor Aliens game, we’ve had plenty to suffer from over the years, but it was so broken and people felt so lied to, the shit storm was inevitable.

        • Moraven says:

          Gearbox used the contract money for Borderlands 2 and outsourced Aliens CM to the Section 8 developers on a limited budget. Their studio was not built for something on the scale of CM was intended to be.

      • belgand says:

        Space Hulk did a rather good job of making an unlicensed version of Aliens into a tense and strategic board game. I never played any of the PC versions, but I recall the most recent one not being terribly well-received. There is a rather good Android version though called Templar Assault that adds some new things. The creators of which have also made some rather good Android games heavily inspired by Elite (Star Traders) and the console Shadowrun games (Cyber Knights).

      • bill says:

        The main problem seems to be that they all saw Aliens as teenagers and therefore totally missed the point.
        Hence all video games ever being about a squad of Well Trained Soliders with catchy one liners going up against overwhelming odds.

        Yet almost no video games being about a squad of well-armed posturing macho dickheads being overconfident and then getting their asses handed to them, and then being saved by a woman/mother.

        Although many CoD games seem to end up pretty close on the well-armed posturing macho dickheads part, but I don’t think they’re doing it intentionally.

        • belgand says:

          In all fairness two of marines were female (Vasquez and Dietrich) not to mention the dropship pilot. They were all pretty macho though. It feels a bit better to focus on her being a civilian pilot rather than making it into a gender issue.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      Similar to the old Commodore 64 Aliens game. Yes.

      • Themadcow says:

        …I’d go with the Aliens *ahem* inspired Rebelstar Raiders 2 in which you had a team of, um, colonial marines called “Hicks”, “Vasquez” etc and had to invade an alien base, destroying the Alien Queen and taking her eggs (if you wished).

        Who made that rather blatent rip-off of the Aliens franchise? Why Mr Jullian Gollop, the creator of the Xcom series that followed it (well, after Laser Squad). Unfortunately, as old as Rebelstar Raiders 2 is, I don’t have any confidence that any modern studio could better it as a turn-based Aliens game. The only downside to it was one scenario and limited turns, which also created the tension.

        • thekelvingreen says:

          That would also work. I mention the C64 game mainly because it was really good and barely anyone remembers it.

          • briangw says:

            Aliens had nothing on Alien for the C64. The dreaded music at the beginning, the sound of shuffling of the Alien through the decks of the Nostromo and the almost given jumping in your seat when one of the crew members encounters it in a corridor or a room and the screen flashes enough to make you epileptic. Alien was just brilliant on the C64

    • SillyWizard says:

      To date this is the best Aliens game I’ve played: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/408816

      I believe this is an adaptation of the board game. But it’s pretty much perfect. You should all really play it and see for yourselves. (It probably won’t take much of your time, unless you really get into it. I’ve been fiddling with this thing for years now and have only managed to make it to the third and final level once.)

      A spruced-up, fancified version of this game would be an insta-buy for me.

  5. PeopleLikeFrank says:

    The ‘extended universe’ that surrounds any piece of fiction usually serves to dilute or pollute whatever was interesting about the fiction in the first place.

    Yes. Thank you.

  6. golem09 says:

    Way to alienate your fanbase.

    • dE says:

      Right? The notion doesn’t seem like it’d hug your face anytime soon.

    • puppybeard says:

      Let’s just hope it has a less troubling gestation than last time.

  7. Steed says:

    Lets hope SEGA forces CA to push out some rushed, unfinished crap which is nothing like what the fans want, ala Rome 2. I do so love it when that happens.

    • Grygus says:

      Well considering what they seem to think the fans want in this instance, that could be a good thing!

  8. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Didn’t gearbox promise to do something “really special” with the franchise too?

  9. Chris Bischoff says:

    Just give the damned licence to Frictional Games.

    • GameCat says:

      Just to have another Amnesia clone?
      I find this game more boring than scary. Walk, walk, pick up oil, walk more, more, read note, walk more, pick up oil, door slaming shut jumpscare cliche, walk, walk, finish bland puzzle, read note, walk more, encounter enemy, play some hide and seek (or die, reload game and repeat boring bits), walk more.
      I want more from Alien than this.

      • milman says:

        I secretly yearn for an Amnesia + State of Decay mash up set in Hadley’s Hope. Imagine everything that goes down between face hugger and Ripley finding Newt, some horrific and ultimately futile game scenarios could be born from that.

        • GameCat says:

          Hey, that would be great. Running away from aliens while navigating corridors filled with panicked people that run in every direction, scream for their lifes and die horribly from aliens and that are hosts for facehuggers.
          Of course it will not happen, because it wouldn’t be as profitable as “shooting clones and soldiers” and would be pain in ass to make it actually works.

  10. Keyrock says:

    Amount of fucks given = Zero

  11. Arithon says:

    SEGA, annoyed that Maxis stole their “worst game ever” crown, are trying again.

    Starting with a broken premise – Amanda Ripley, as we know from the “Aliens:Directors cut” and novel, lived and died aged 66, on Earth, in a time before the Alien zenomorph had even been found on the LV426 colony. That happened AFTER Ellen Ripley was rescued, three years after Amanda had died. And as stated in Aliens during Ripley’s debrief, a creature “Never before encountered on over 300 worlds”.

    Nothing about having her own daughter having found one quite recently…

    Well SEGA, you may snatch that coveted “golden poo” from EA yet!

  12. airmikee99 says:

    Maybe I’ve romanticized the memories of it, but AvP on the Atari Jaguar was a blast to play, being able to choose either an alien, Marine, or Predator really made for a fun adventure. Why hasn’t anyone been able to duplicate the awesomeness of that game?

    • bill says:

      Er: AvP on PC (by the same guys) and AvP2 on the PC too.

      Though I have no idea why they didn’t keep the predator honor system.

      Though the scariest Aliens game I’ve ever played was a fan made Doom Total Conversion.

      • airmikee99 says:

        Aw yeah, thanks for the reminder. I think I forgot about the newer games because I didn’t hear anything good about them from the few people I know that tried them out. Enough time has passed now though I can probably find them on the cheap on Steam, so maybe I’ll see how they compare to the Jaguar version. I think I’ll track down the Doom – Aliens TC as well. :)

        • Cleave says:

          Get AvP 2000. It’s £3 and possibly the scariest game I’ve ever played.

          • airmikee99 says:

            Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be picking that up soon, thanks for the tip. :)

  13. Nick says:

    “you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.”

    Why fucking bother.

  14. PikaBot says:

    …you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.”

    Fuck my life, WHY

  15. Beelzebud says:

    Thanks to Gearbox we’ll never see the RPG that Obsidian was working on. That could have been something interesting, but we’ll never know.

    • DrScuttles says:

      More interesting than the fanwanky idea of Ripley’s badass daughter fighting clones and soldiers in a previously unmentioned adventure anyway. Next someone’ll try to retcon Hicks’ death!

  16. P.Funk says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that a game where you spend 95% of the time not shooting anything but shadows or just not shooting while being constantly harassed with the notion of needing to shoot something sounds really cool and like it would actually be somewhat original?

    Spend the whole game with a flamer, blasting corridors you think the alien is in but not every corridor because you’re gonna run outta gas soon. Maybe we actually end up blasting some dude on the station because he does the required space crazy thing that threatens you so you gotta wax him, but it might just be the only bullet you’ve fired for the first 4 hours of the game.

    I honestly don’t understand how we can compare the tension of Alien to a game where we’ll be firing more bullets than Vasquez and Hudson do through the whole of Aliens.

    How about a puzzle game where you have a gun but you never fire the gun except for when it REALLY REALLY matters. That’d be really cool, but also pretty hard to master in design. I guess any Alien franchise games will always just be a punt.

    • Jackablade says:

      It’d be a tricky one to pull off well. The only other game I can think of that’s actually attempted anything vaguely similar is Miasmata with its single deadly and terrifying (at least until you get a good look at the model) enemy hunting your sick, weak and defenseless character throughout a sizeable open world. You could do something similar with alien, but I think for it to work you’d need to give the player a greater goal than simply find alien and shoot it – that’s not likely to be the sort of game that’s going to be compelling for long enough. Giving it a significant exploration component in a naturally hostile environment might be enough to do it though.

      • P.Funk says:

        Pretty much. The first Alien which was of this sort of scenario was very brief, just shy of 2 hours screen time. You’d need it to be a broader emergent story. The problem with these shooter based stories is that they’re often not very deep they just prolong the experience by making you go through hoards of enemies to kill.

        So its really a shame to be using the Alien 1 IP to make whats probably going to be an Aliens type of game.

  17. particlese says:

    …you’ll mostly be shooting through “clones and soldiers.”

    Mostly.

    Edit for substance:

    the protagonist of Alien: Isolation is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley

    I was really hoping Amanda was the name of Ripley’s alien-baby, but alas…I really could go for another good running-around-on-walls game (see AvP2′s alien campaign).

  18. Duke of Chutney says:

    When are we going to get to play Burke? Or a corp stooge of his ilk?

    We’ve been able to play marines, aliens, and predators, surely the Corp has to be next.

  19. DatonKallandor says:

    I am truly shocked they remember having made Viking. I wonder if they remember that the number one thing that killed that game deader than an undead viking killed by a non-undead viking was the fact they made it for consoles.
    If it had come out on PC at release (you know, a platform that could actually handle what they coded in terms of horsepower) it’d have been a game that spawns an entire genre of knockoffs.
    It was Demons Souls with the scale of an actual Total War game.
    Running at 5 frames as second, if you were lucky, because they tried to do it on PS3 and Xbox 360.

  20. HisDivineOrder says:

    Sega needs to step back from this and realize that the Alien(s) franchise needs someone to go Outlast or Amnesia on this thing. Build up horror. Slow. Keep the game small-ish, not “huge budget” tentpole. Make it about an experience more about surviving rather than “winning.”

  21. bluenine says:

    Here’s an idea for an interesting horror/survival game: Prequel to Aliens, you play Newt and you try to survive inside the compound until the marines arrive

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