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Alien: Isolation – First Time Encountering the Xenomorph

Alien: Isolation

We’ve touched upon the near-perfect atmosphere and sense of place within The Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation, and generally speaking, it all gravitates around one being in particular: H.R. Giger’s nightmare-inducing Xenomorph. However, much like Steven Spielberg’s method of approach with Jaws, the studio kept their main attraction largely under wraps during the opening segment of the game, instead opting to build an unnerving sense of tension through the meticulous environments and pitch-perfect score.

But just because it’s out of the line of sight doesn’t mean that the unrelenting killing machine isn’t around. For the first hour or so, players are exposed to the aftermath of its wrath, with decimated corpses littering the halls of the Sevastopol station. It’s a harrowing sight, and knowing that the beast is still lurking in the shadows creates an almost overwhelming sense of trepidation. And so, after creeping gingerly up to the point where you first encounter Axel, you might be fooled into thinking that you’ve reached an artificial safe haven — I mean, the Xenomorph wouldn’t dare approach you when one person is armed with a gun, right?

Well, as Ridley Scott and later James Cameron taught us all very well, these acid-spewing extra-terrestrials are basically the perfect organism — a survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. And it’s only after Axel is taken out that you first encounter Giger’s towering goliath, unfolding from a ceiling vent in a eerie, serpentine fashion. Such is Alien: Isolation‘s emphasis on player vulnerability that your only course of action is to cower under the desk, even as its prolonged tail drips over the counter in a move that is almost too close for comfort.

It’s a wonderful, cinematic scene that typifies Isolation‘s deft and masterful touch. Proving that The Creative Assembly know all too well that one well-timed segment is more terrifying than a dozen cheap jump scares.