As of the early 2010s first-person survival horror games were a rarity, a space most notably occupied by the likes of indie hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Triple-A games in the genre, the Resident Evils, Silent Hills, and Dead Spaces of the world, had yet to move beyond the tried-and-true third-person perspective. Change peeked over the horizon by the middle of the decade, though, with another indie success, Outlast, and Hideo Kojima’s P.T. demo laying the foundation for a new wave of survival horror. Little did anyone know, an Alien project based on Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic would also move the needle.
The ambitions powering Creative Assembly’s vision for Alien: Isolation were grounded by far more than a shift in perspective. In using the original film as a stepping stone, Isolation tread ground that no other Alien-based video game had dared traverse. Previous interactive adventures through the sci-fi universe placed special emphasis on the action-oriented qualities of James Cameron’s 1986 sequel. Such titles supplied players with advanced firearms and assigned the arduous task of killing Xenomorphs—Alien: Isolation did neither. Creative Assembly instead encouraged players to avoid the creature, hide from and fear it, even distract it when necessary. But fully understanding the core of the experience they wanted to create proved a formidable undertaking for the team.
Four years of production were devoted to the project. A new engine and major gameplay changes imposed several challenges on a studio that lacked a survival horror pedigree. To the delight of many an Alien fan, however, those obstacles culminated in a one of a kind exploration of the seminal franchise.