Alien: Isolation is awesome, which is good because the Alien franchise needed something to save it after Prometheus bombed and I learned that Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba are human and make mistakes, just like the rest of us.
The game is a success because it captures everything we loved about the original Alien film: the retro-futuristic atmosphere, the unrelenting tension and the fucking scary alien. Here are five interesting details that you might have missed:
The game nails the original film's retro-futuristic vibes. Check out this moment from one of the game's trailers:
How do you make your game feel authentically retro-futuristic? You use authentic retro technology.
Engadget reports that the developers at Creative Assembly transferred parts of the game, like the inventory selection menu and the loading screen, onto VHS tapes and played them on old television sets. For further distortion, they messed with cables and magnets while watching the tube. They then recorded this and inserted the footage back into the game.
That's why it feels like you're truly in the 2000's of the 1970's, which is cooler than the 2000's of the 2000's. THINK ABOUT THAT. We are nostalgic for a future that never existed.
In Alien: Isolation, the space station has androids called "Working Joe's." Their presence recalls what is scariest about Alien: Ripley is surrounded by enemies. Ripley has to defend herself against not only blood-thirsty aliens, but also fellow crew members. Especially Ash.
Who knew milk was scarier than blood?
In the game, the synthetics relentlessly hunt you and the xenomorphs won't kill them. Whoever said the enemy of your enemy was your friend was a liar. The enemy of your enemy is just another enemy you have to deal with.
And the synthetics don't slay you swiftly by stabbing you or biting your face off. No, they slowly beat you. If you shoot them in retaliation, they calmly respond with "Don't do that." Or "That stings." They are 100% more terrifying than the alien.
In one of the game's trailers, Ripley finds a toy robot and uses one of its parts to make a honing device to track her enemies. Here is what the toy robot looks like:
Do those yellow claw arms remind you of anything?
The Power Loader is the yellow robot that Ripley uses to battle Queen Xenomorph at the end of Aliens.
In the film and the game, Ellen and Amanda Ripley show off their resourcefulness by repurposing robots to fight the xenomorphs. Like mother, like daughter. They're so crafty. I think they would have really liked Pinterest.
There are two origami unicorns hidden in Alien: Isolation. These paper creations are references to the director's cut of the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, and their presence in the game is a nod to the idea that Blade Runner and Alien take place in the same universe. This is an idea that Ridley Scott, the director of both films, has pushed.
The significance of origami unicorns comes from the debate about whether Rick Deckard, the Blade Runner protagonist, is a replicant. In the director's cut, Scott added a deleted scene where Deckard dreams of a unicorn running through the woods. At the end of the movie, his fellow cop hands him an origami unicorn, implying that he knows of Deckard's unicorn vision because the dream is an implanted memory.
Why would anyone implant a dream of a UNICORN? I guess it's like what Roy Batty said: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. A wild unicorn running through the forest. Some really crazy shit."
Regardless, the origami unicorns in Alien: Isolation are a nice detail that place the game within Ridley Scott's rich universe.
Reddit user THE-WARD3VIL posted a screenshot of a magazine that he found early in his gameplay. The picture looks unmistakeably like James Cameron.
James Cameron is relevant because he directed the Alien sequel, Aliens.
In the magazine, the title above him reads "Is There Room for the Little Guy?" An ironic joke, I assume, since it's next to a picture of THE KING OF THE WORLD.
Because of this "every good sci-fi movie takes place in the same universe" crossover trend, I expect the Na'vi to show up in the next installment of the Alien franchise. They'll come on the ship and make the xenomorph queen grow a long braid and seduce her. Hey, xenomorphs have that mouth-within-a-mouth thang going on, you know they get freaky.