I promise I will be back to games I am surprised by and/or ashamed of owning, soon, but first let me tell you about ‘Prey’ (the new one). ‘Prey’ is another very recent game I threw upon the top of the mountain just to take it off again and I did so with great pleasure.
I bought the game on the following info: first person perspective, space station. People seemed to like it. As with ‘What Remains of Edith Finch‘ I read that the game is best experienced without knowing too much about it beforehand and I now agree with that advice. If you thinking about playing ‘Prey’ and you get triggered by the same words as I do, you should probably stop reading and buy the game.
Alien Isolation is like owning a big, black cat, that hates you
It’s beautiful and you love it, but as much as you want to, you can’t keep it because it always tries to trip you at the top of the stairs.
Alien Isolation is probably the best looking game I have played so far. I am a fan of the original Alien movies (yes even the fourth one – shut up!) and no game in the Alien universe came even remotely close to capturing the look and feel of the movies (in this case, especially the first movie) so perfectly. That is why it’s utterly frustrating for me that Alien isolation is a survival horror stealth game – even though it’s a fitting choice. Again it’s not a genre I am particularly fond of (but I like to keep an open mind), especially if it’s so well done as in Alien Isolation. The intentionally cheap looking droids for example are a horrifying trip through the uncanny valley for me. Being spotted by one of them and starting to run straight into the arms of another one is impressively unpleasant. The sound design is great and knowing by the rumbling of the air ducts that a big, terrifying creature will probably turn up around the next corner, or from the ceiling or from a vent behind me, is exciting up to downright exhausting.
If it wasn’t so good, I could enjoy it more
The game is so well done it had me at the edge of my seat most of the time I played it. It’s just that I really don’t enjoy feeling helpless and hunted all the time. I like games to provide me with the means to live out my basic power fantasies – stealth and horror games usually can’t provide this. Yes, there are ways to fight back, but most of the time firing a gun got me into more trouble than running away screaming or just sitting in a locker, being grateful that the black monster does not seem to have a functioning nose.
It’s not just playing monster bait that bothers me, but I find that waiting in a locker, or a dark corner, or a vent, is rather boring. Especially in a game where you die often and that doesn’t allow you to save anywhere. I understand that it’s a design choice to only be able to save at certain points, because it adds a lot to the tension, but for a player like me it becomes frustrating fast. I don’t enjoy finding the perfect route to get unseen through that corridor. I want to know what happens next. Stop killing me all the time and let me enjoy my space adventure!
Alien Isolation is a great game if you are into survival horror, and it’s a masterpiece when it comes to set-design and atmosphere. Some time in the future, when I’m all grown up, I’ll give it another try.
I remember reading about the first Alien Breed game in a (printed – on paper) PC-gaming-magazine – and by ‘first’ I do not mean the direct predecessor to the game, that I will be talking about shortly, but the original game released for PC in 1993. The screenshots promised a dark alien top-down-shooter full of violent action and suspense, which made it frustrating that it took me some time to get a copy of the game through the usual schoolyard connections. When I was finally able to install and launch the game on my trusty 386 (21 MHz, 2MB RAM) excitement quickly gave way to disappointment. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. The graphics and gameplay became bland and repetitive fast.
I didn’t play the first entry in the remake series, ‘Alien Breed: Evolution’, but since the first two games where released suspiciously close to each other in the same year (2010) I’m guessing the experience won’t differ that much. This is certainly the case with Alien Breed 2 and 3, which is why I decided to put them into one article. Team17 managed to transfer the series very well in the spirit of the originals. After a really nice comic intro, I quickly felt unimpressed again. The graphics are nothing to get excited about. They’re functional, which would be okay for me if they didn’t use the same mud-color palette all the way through. It all feels too familiar. Abandoned on an large space ship infested with (standard, run of the mill) aliens and some rouge AI talking too much. Which is about all the narrative we get. I felt myself reminded of Dead Space most of the time. ‘Go there to repair the bridge/reactor/door/cart that brings you to the bridge/reactor/door/cart, that you went out to repair in the first place’ – just less exciting, uglier and without the ultra violence. I realize that this is an unfair comparison because Alien Breed clearly didn’t set out to be another dead space and it’s certainly not a AAA production, but that’s what you get for being so unoriginal and having no depth at all.
I guess apart from the bland setting it’s an okay, but very superficial top-down shooter, which might keep you entertained for a short while. It probably works best as a coop experience. I probably won’t try to confirm that and instead play ‘Dead Space’ or ‘System Shock’, or even the also not very good, but still better game ‘Space Siege’. At ten Euros per game they are fairly priced, but if you buy all three entries you might feel that you bought the same game thrice.