Hey, I got this game about a year ago, leading into Shocktoberfest 2020. And now I finally finished it! And also finished some of the free DLC! Going to give my impressions here, will spoiler tag any big spoilers.
So first off, I love this game. I think I'm theoretically a big horror game fan, but I find them tough to play sometimes (hence taking like a year to finish it), so I don't play quite as many horror games as I would like to. And since I'm big into Resident Evil and there are so many Resident Evil games, those games tend to take up my horror game time. But...
Well, I decided to just get Alien Isolation. Wanted to try something other than another Resident Evil game right now (I'll definitely get to 3make eventually.)
Anyway, as far as AAA produced horror experiences this is probably one of the best on Nintendo consoles? It's such a well-crafted experience that ALSO really feels like it fits the vibe of the movies, or more specifically the first movie. And the sound... OMG, it's so good. This game definitely needs to be played with stereo sound, preferably a headset. You rely so much on hearing what direction threats are coming from.
Much like the first Alien movie, your main threat for a large part of the game (though there are other threats, see below) is a single alien, who is fast and dangerous. You can't kill it. If it sees you, at least in the early game, you're most likely dead, it's super fast and if it catches you, it's an insta-kill. Later in the game you get some stuff to scare it off for a bit, but even that is limited and has to be used correctly or it will get you. Even if you hide, if it's on high alert, it will probably find you. So it's mostly a stealth game. Sneak around, hide under tables or in lockers, use flares and noisemakers and other things to distract, etc. You're usually scrounging together the pieces to make stuff as you go as well.
The secondary threats are robots and humans, both of whom rightfully so take a back seat to the alien, although on occasion there are sections that focus on them. They're both pretty deadly too, and unlike most games you are NOT a fist or bullet sponge, you die pretty fast here, so you always have to be careful in your approach. What I like about the game though is even in those sections, you make too much noise or such, and the alien comes scrambling out of a vent soon enough. So you kind of always have to think about how to do what you have to do quietly with the threat of the alien looming, and if you do make too much noise, you have to get out of there fast.
Though you can also use it to your advantage. Have an area with a bunch of humans who are trying to kill you? Summon the alien with some noise! But it can backfire too, so, be prepared.
Anyhow, it's a great game, but a lot of people / reviews say it drags on a bit too long, and I kind of agree. I never was not enjoying myself or finding it hard to keep going (out of interest, definitely found it hard out of nerves at times), but the first few hours are slow, and then it gets really good for a long time, but it eventually definitely hits a point where you're just kind of doing things you have already done before. I've said before that one issue I have with most horror games is that once you learn the mechanics and gain more of a sense of control, they become less scary. Kind of true here as well. The scariest parts for me were definitely more around the first introduction of the alien and the hours after that, when it is out in full force but still kind of new and scary. By the end it's like, not that bad? Though I'd say it definitely gets a bit more aggressive in hunting you down later on, but you should be prepared for that by then.
I also have some specific issues with the pacing of the last quarter of the game or so. (Huge plot spoilers ahead.) You hit a point about 75% of the way through the game where you actually blast the alien out into space, eliminating the threat. Then the game instantly shifts to the robots going completely out of control and having to deal with that for a few missions. But without the threat of the alien, it's just... honestly a big step back in fear. For the first time in the game it just felt, not too anxious / scary? The robots are still kind of creepy, but nothing like dealing with the alien. Plus you can freely run from them at this point without worrying about making too much noise and summoning the alien. Then you hit a point where, SPOILERS, you discover there are more aliens on the ship. LOTS of them. This kind of set me up to think I'd be dealing with a bunch at once, which was an intense thought, but... nah, outside of a few specific / short areas where you have two to deal with, it just goes right back to one at a time stuff, which you'll be pretty good at managing at this point. Because of this, the last quarter or so of the game, while still good stuff, doesn't really up the ante much. I think cutting a bit from the front and a lot from the back would have made a tighter, better package. Well, that or just upping the ante more near the end.
I don't want to scare anyone off though, like I said, I was never not enjoying myself, just kind of wish the game went harder at the end. Great experience overall though, even if it's not exactly the best paced.
There are a bunch of DLC missions that came free with the Switch, the two I played were more normal paced missions called "crew expendable" and "last survivor", the first took me like 40? minutes while the second took me 20? Both of them let you play parts of the first movie, albeit reimagined a bit. Crew Expendable puts you in the role of trying to trap the alien in the vents and ultimately expel it. I actually found crew expendable to be pretty intense, I played it at the same difficulty level as I played the main game but I would swear the alien is more aggressively hunting you in this mission, and it also had a sort of short but interesting part where you have to evade the alien while crawling through a large vent structure. Last Survivor has you playing as Ripley, all alone, setting the ship to self destruct and escape. Also pretty cool. The other DLC is time based or challenge / points based, not really sure if that's what I'm looking for, but I might check it out eventually.
This ended up almost like a review instead of impressions but hey, I had a lot to say.