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.