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You start off as Amanda Ripley, standing in a dark room, breathing heavily as a computer warns you that it is imperative to incessantly check your motion tracker for survival. Specs of dust fall through the air in what small sections of light are available. The ground bellows at your every footstep, a sign of the vast emptiness of the ship you’re currently inhabiting. You pause, step forward, and grab a flame thrower and some flares... because the ship isn't really empty, and you’re not really alone. Suddenly you hear something scuttle in a manner too fast to be the steps of another human.
There is where the demo of Alien Isolation places you—in the middle of a medical bay that you must escape...at the mercy of a predator that cannot be killed (I learned that the hard way). In order to work your way out you must lurk in the shadows, use the flamethrower wisely, and lure the Xenomorph away from yourself using flares.
Aside from a sparse amount of flamethrower fuel and a couple flares, the most important item Amanda has is a massive handmade motion tracker device that can show her the direction of her destination as well as the presence of the Xenomorph. This allows you to track the creature, and grants you time to hide in nearby lockers or duck for cover if it is nearby.
However, it’s also important to note that the Xenomorph can learn from you—in this respect it can begin to anticipate your different actions and react accordingly. What’s great about this is that it forces the player to think differently all the time even though they may be put in the same situations more than once. Do the same thing to much and the Xenomorph will track you down. You are the hunted.
In short, this demo terrified me. To be fair, I get scared rather easily, but I wasn't the only one reacting this way. The game makes you think quickly and react even quicker, something that is hard when you are frozen in fear. It’s is a long ways from the rather problematic Alien: Colonial Marines, and is perhaps one of the closest simulators to the Alien movies we can get right now.
I died during the demo more than I’d like to admit, and as much as I want to blame my failure on poor controls or design, that’s simply not the case. Alien Isolation is relentless... and it is in this that it is also the most fun and terrifying experience I've had yet at E3. People could definitely hear me scream on the show floor.... but in space that’s never the case.
Katy Goodman is a freelance writer and graduate student in English. When she isn’t busy training birds of prey, horses, or freshman composition students, she can be found playing video games or climbing trees. She also really likes grilled cheese. Follow her on Twitter @InvizzyB or on her blog, Pixel Hearts.