So if you were watching the games presses Monday (1/7), or my twitter feed. You saw that Sega & Creative Assembly announced a new Alien game. Alien: Isolation is the latest game installment of the film franchise started by Ridley Scott in 1979.
I have to say I am just really impressed and pleasantly surprised by this announcement. The game itself has me excited to be sure, but that’s not really what has caught my eye.
Truthfully I think the manner in which they announced the title hits just about every key point of a clean game reveal. I’ll break down what I mean.
Firstly Sega/CA did a competent job of keeping this project quiet by minimizing leaks. It probably helped that Aliens: Colonial Marines burst into flames so publicly; effectively blinding the community to any other mentions of the word ‘Alien’. However, when it comes to confidentiality they executed wonderfully on the plan of “If you have to keep things quiet. Keep quiet.”
This game pretty much slid in under the radar until it was just upon us; a well orchestrated maneuver for building hype with surprise.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of this announcements is that, by all press accounts, they let the game speak for itself. They sat members of the press in a darkened room with surround sound and put a controller in the hands of journalists, unleashing them into the demo. There was no faffing about. No sophistry. Simply put the game in the hands of reporters and answer questions when asked. This method of ‘show and quietly tell’ does well to dispel much of the speculation and misplaced hype that can torpedo game at launch (ie Aliens: Colonial Marines). Creative Assembly has demonstrated that the value of saying little is more valuable than saying a great deal.
The reason I feel comfortable saying that this ‘demo’ is more legitimate than other vertical slices is driven by the fact that all indications point to this being a Alien: Isolation is near being finalized. Showing the games final engine with a stable and playable build speaks volumes about Sega/CA’s desire to assuage consumer fears of another debacle of misrepresentation (ie Aliens: Colonial Marines).
Arguably the best part about the entire reveal is the perfectly precise nature of the showcased gameplay and selected conversations. Creative Assembly clearly understands what experience they are trying to deliver in Alien: Isolation. Their reliance and insistence on the fear-inspiring, suspenseful, and dreadful atmosphere of the original 1979 film is apparent. In the game segments shown there is a focus on moments of slow and weary exploration of an eerie space station. The attention to detail in these moments is an incredible. As CA mentions, they faithfully recreated the art style of the film by ruling out in-game assets that couldn’t have been reasonably manufactured in 1979 for the original films production. These tense times of wandering are punctuated by moments of startling noises and terrifying glimpses of the Xenomorph. Every dark corner becomes a danger, every time you turn your back an overwhelming sense of vulnerability takes hold of you. The ominous reports of the motion tacker stop you heart with every beep. The team at Creative Assembly made damned sure that players were aware of how these moments of gameplay drive the overall experience. There was no need to stand on ceremony, buzzwords, or mention of graphical fidelity.
By sharing a complete press package of trailers, in-engine footage, hands-on demos, hi-res screenshots, and straight talk the CA/SEGA team have introduced a skiddish community to a promising game that respects its origins. They have laid the groundwork for a game that focuses on a compelling experience which is not trying to be anything other than what it needs to be: a horrifying, suspenseful, and engaging survival tale without the distraction of needless features or content.
Bravo to the teams at Creative Assembly & SEGA. I’m not one to place pre-orders, but rest assured you have my attention. My undivided attention.