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Alien: Isolation is a first-person Survival Horror game based on the Alien franchise, developed by Creative Assembly, published by Sega and released October 7, 2014.Set 15 years after the events of the original film, the game follows Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Nostromo warrant officer Ellen Ripley. Amanda has been searching for answers ever since her mother disappeared on a voyage aboard the Nostromo, and has joined the Weyland-Yutani Corporation as a researcher.Provided with a lead that the Nostromo's flight recorder was recently discovered on the fringes of the frontier, Amanda heads to the space station Sevastopol to seek answers, only to discover a terrifying threat - a lone Xenomorph, which has massacred the station's inhabitants and is now pursuing her. Armed only with a handful of devices and her wits, it's up to Amanda to outwit her pursuer and discover the truth about what happened to her mother.The game appears to take cues from other first person Survival Horror games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast, and features hide-and-seek gameplay where Amanda is forced to use different tactics to outwit and avoid the Xenomorph stalking her through Sevastopol, while the Xenomorph will adapt to the player's avoidance patterns and tailor its searching appropriately.
This game contains examples of:
Abandoned Hospital: The San Cristobal Medical Facility, which occupies a large portion of Sevastopol's Sci/Med Tower. It had been evacuated and cordoned off before Amanda arrives because that is where "Patient Zero" was taken, and Waits was trying to keep it covered up to prevent a station-wide panic.
Abandoned Laboratory: Gemini Exoplanet Solutions, Seegson subsidiary that specializes in analyzing new worlds and deriving solutions to colonization problems. They maintain a laboratory facility on the station complete with a detachable observation module that can descend to planets for first-hand testing. It was shut down before the incident on the station happened, so the area is relatively clear of human occupation. This becomes the Disc One Final Dungeon when Amanda tries to lure the creature into the detachable module to eject it from the station.
Ability Required to Proceed: Lots of obstacles stand in Amanda's path, but she can overcome them with the right tools. A maintenance jack for removing physical locks from doors, a security bypass tuner for overcoming electric locks, a gas torch for cutting through plating, etc. Even all of those often need upgrades to get through more secure barriers.
Action Survivor: Amanda hits this, as she is an engineer who is forced to use her wits to hide from the Xenomorph in the station. However, this later progresses into Action Girl territory once she gets some better weapons (like the flamethrower and railgun) and can take down Working Joes, hostile humans, and the Facehuggers in the hive and the Anesidora.
Adaptational Badass: The Alien's immunity to revolver bullets can easily be explained by the civilian-grade pistol being an intentionally insufficiently powerful caliber to avoid hull punctures; its resistance to the flamethrower can be attributed to it being a jury-rigged device and not a true military flamethrower. It's only when the Alien starts ignoring shotgun blasts to the face that you realize this trope has come fully into play.
It is also only startled by pipebomb explosions going off at its feet and completely ignores the bolt gun, which can one shot a Working Joe.
Amanda herself. In the films, she is only known to the audience as an innocent 11 year old girl and an elderly 66 year old woman who dies of natural causes. Here she's a capable and resourceful action hero to easily rival (or even outstrip) her mother.
The Working Joes/Seegson androids found throughout the station are significantly less advanced than Weyland-Yutani synthetics like Ash, Bishop, or David. Their skin is clearly some form of rubber, they're completely hairless, and they have glowing eyes. They also possess a primitive A.I. that makes them only suitable for simple tasks, and require coordination and input from a much larger central intelligence. Their lack of sophistication not only makes them unsettling, but also results in them ignoring the crisis aboard the station and attempting to kill trespassing humans.
APOLLO, the station's controlling A.I., has locked down all vital systems and seems to be actively trying to get everybody on board killed. It's later revealed that Weyland-Yutani had ordered to it to protect the Xenomorph at all costs, even if it has to kill the occupants of the station, in a clear Call Back to the original film.
A favored tactic of the Xenomorph, much like the films. In the announcement trailer, Amanda shines her flashlight onto an air vent above her, which has streaks of blood leading into it.
Amanda can use air vents to navigate the station quickly. The Alien uses air vents in the ceiling to navigate the station — these air vents are inaccessible to the player.
Worth noting is the fact that the Alien can most definitely access the vents the player uses. In some places, the player-accessible air vents and ceiling air vents seem to be connected.
Oddly enough, some of the vent openings have markings that indicate that they are part of the emergency evacuation routes.
All Webbed Up: The creature's abduction victims which were taken to the hive under the main reactor. Later happens to Amanda herself after getting knocked out.
Alternate Continuity: The "Crew Expendable" DLC tells a "what if?" scenario where Parker or Ellen could go into the vents instead of Dallas to draw the Xenomorph into the airlock (which is based on a Deleted Scene from the original film where they tried to enact the same plan and are sabotaged by Ash).
The pre-order missions "Lone Survivor" and "Crew Expendable" happen during the original Alien movie. Bonus points for using the original movie cast to provide the character voices.
You take control of Marlow during a playable flashback detailing the Anesidora crew's discovery of the derelict ship that the Nostromo crew originally found.
Anti-Frustration Features: The game allows you to turn down the difficulty mid-game if you find any point where it becomes absolutely impossible to progress. The save feature also has one caveat where it actively warns if enemies are nearby and prevents you from saving to prevent you from saving the game a few seconds before the Alien brutally murders you and makes the save file Unwinnable by Mistake.
Although viewers may disagree on where they belong on the scale of villainy because of their actions, both Waits and Marlow still had the same goal as Ripley; kill the Alien and stop Weyland-Yutani from ever getting their hands on it. Moreover, Marlowe was indirectly responsible for his face-hugged wife coming on board the Sevastopol and causing the deaths of everyone on board and thus felt it was his duty to fix his mistake.
Amanda can uncover audio logs left behind by station crew and emails sent across the station intranet to give her some idea of what went on there.
Artificial Brilliance: According to the developers, the Xenomorph tracks the player's avoidance patterns and actions, and tailors its encounters appropriately. As players themselves have found out, this is completely true.
Human enemies are surprisingly vulnerable to the old "let them chase you around a corner then bash them in the head with a wrench as soon as they come around" trick. You can take out an entire roomful of hostile humans in this manner, who are not at all deterred by the pile of bodies at that corner.
On lower difficulties (anything other than Hard), enemies (both humans and the Alien) can sometimes fail to see you even if you're in plain sight a few feet in front of them, and will casually stroll right past you. This doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen often enough to be noticeable.
Attack Its Weak Point: Early on, the easiest way to kill Working Joes is by shooting multiple times in the head with the revolver. Attempting to hit a Working Joe with a maintenance jack will only result in them blocking your blows, though sneaking up on them will allow you to get a few hits in. Later on, you get access to a shotgun and the bolt gun, which will kill them in one hit to the head. They're also the only enemies vulnerable to the EMP mine, which you can craft later on in the game.
Badass Normal: Amanda, who survives several close encounters with the Alien and can melee humans and androids alike. To note, the first time she sees the Xenomorph, she has a massive freakout. By the time she marches through a hive by herself in order to overload the reactor cores, fighting other Xenos and Facehuggers along the way, she does so without comment or major reaction.
Big Bad Ensemble: There's actually a surprisingly large amount of major antagonists outside the Alien, but absolutely none of them are working together and their goals eventually entail screwing each other over as well as everyone else.
Weyland-Yutani, as always, is the Bigger Bad, with APOLLO, the station's controlling A.I., as their chief representative.
Ransome, the smarmy Seegson executive in charge of the station. His cost-cutting measures (which were meant to make himself look good to his superiors) contributed to the further decline of Sevastopol Station into a decrepit mess, as well as for the hasty development of the severely flawed Working Joe androids. As he became more aware of the situation aboard the station, he attempted to profit from the situation. Ransome however, is a minor villain, as he never poses a direct threat to the player. Furthermore, most of his story is only revealed in logs and audio recordings.
Of course, in the end, the primary antagonist, and the ultimate threat, remains the Alien. Absolutely everyone else is little more than a minor threat when compared to the Nigh Invulnerable deathmonster. Its very existence aboard the station is the driving force for the plot. Even though it is defeated halfway into the game, its influence is still felt, as APOLLO orders a massacre of all inhabitants on the station on orders from Weyland-Yutani. Prior to its demise, it has also transformed the station's reactor into a breeding ground for Facehuggers. The game appropriately ends with Ripley being confronted with yet another Alien as she returns to her ship.
Bittersweet Ending: Ripley succeeds in wiping out an incredibly serious infestation of Xenomorphs and prevents Weyland-Yutani from acquiring the creature, but in the process every single person on Sevastopol station dies, and Amanda jettisons herself and the last remaining Xenomorph into space. The only thing that prevents this from being a full-on downer ending is her rescue in the Post-Credits sequence.
But on the other hand, she's still been unable to know what happened to her mother, and if the movie Aliens is to go by, she'll likely never ever see her again.
Black Dude Dies First: Much like the film that it inspired it, this game very much averts this trope. In fact, among the various characters Ripley interacts with aboard the Sevastopol, Ricardo is the final one to perish.
Blatant Lies: A Sevastolink message contains information that the Working Joe display models have not been formatted and won't activate on their own. Oh really?
Breather Episode: After the Xenomorph is launched from the station, you don't have to worry about it showing up and just have to deal with other survivors and Working Joes until you finally get to Apollo where it redirects you to the Alien hive underneath the reactor.
Axel (the first civilian Amanda meets on the station) is impaled by the Xenomorph in a very similar manner to Brett in the original film (standing in an engine room, seeing liquid fall on them, then looking up only to be pulled upwards by the creature).
The flashback to the Anesidora crew's discovery of the derelict is one for the same sequence in the original movie. The story beats are even the same, from the glimpse of the derelict in the distance, to the discovery of the Space Jockey, to the eggs in the lower level and a member of the crew triggering one of the eggs and getting facehugged when they go in for a closer look.
Likewise, the sequence where Amanda accesses APOLLO to attempt to shut down its security protocols is framed exactly like the scene where Ellen accesses MOTHER in the original, to the point that they both have a similar reveal - Weyland-Yutani is attempting to harness the Xenomorph for their own ends, and regards the human crew as both expendable and a potential liability.
In Seegson synthetics, you can find a person who was killed by having a magazine shoved down their throat by one the killer androids, much like how Ash tried to kill Ripley in the movie.
Some of the Working Joes run in place, much like Ash did in the first film.
Click Hello: Axel greets Amanda this way when they first meet.
Company Town: Sevastopol counts as one, being an orbital waystation the size of a small town owned by a singular company. Most of the personnel there are both employed by and renting from Seegson or one of its subsidiary companies. There is some other private investment there too, but it is minimal as Seegson has had trouble finding external investment and the whole station is in bad financial straits.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Unlike its disposable mook counterparts in Aliens and the associated games, the Alien is hugely threatening on its own. It is almost completely immune to any of Ripley's weapons and almost any attack by it is a One-Hit Kill, so trying to fight it with will only result in a painful and messy death. This is largely justified though, what with Ripley being equipped with civilian-grade firearms and improvised weapons, not to mention a fifty year technological gap between the respective settings.
During the flashback to the derelict's discovery, the Anesidora crew find the drag marks from where Dallas and Lambert dragged Kane's body back to the Nostromo.
At several points in the game you can find audio recordings made by the crew of the Nostromo during their salvage mission that led them to the Alien. They are all (save Ian Holm as Ash) voiced by the original actors, too.
Continuity Porn: Isolation is to the original film what Aliens: Colonial Marines was to its sequel - chock full of design aesthetics and plot points referencing their respective films. Creative Assembly staff members even note in their design diaries that they had access to original production assets from the original film.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Averted and played straight. Despite a couple red herrings, Samuels is firmly on Amanda's side and actively aids her throughout the game. Later, you find out that Taylor is trying to harness the Xenomorph for the Company, but unlike Burke from Aliens, she's not really actively working against Ripley; she does put everyone in danger by releasing Marlow, but that was more due to naivety rather than active malice.
Played straight with Ransome, the Seegson executive in charge of the station. He acts like the stereotypical Wall Street Guy and even mentions trying to capture the Alien and profit from it. However, he's a Big Bad Wannabe who's easily outgambitted by Weyland-Yutani, and is only heard from in audio logs.
Corrupted Data: Amanda finds the Nostromo flight recorder a short time after arriving at the station, but discovers that all the data is corrupted. It isn't until much later that she is able to restore the files and review the material on it.
Covered in Gunge: Shooting any of the Working Joes at close range results in white synthetic blood getting splashed across the camera.
Creepy Basement: No one likes going to the lowest levels of the reactor core assembly. It is in one of the most remote parts of the station, it is noisy, humid, lonely, poorly lit, only needs an occasional maintenance check every few weeks, and the industrial Working Joes can handle that much, so almost no one bothers to go there. Which is why it is the perfect place for the Aliens to make their nest...
If the Xenomorph catches Amanda, or any of the human survivors, it's this.
Working Joes against human survivors tends to be this; the Working Joe will usually be hurt, but will almost effortlessly kill the humans.
Samuels is seen dishing out one of these against a Working Joe in chapter 12, and the obvious implication is that all of the synthetics you found dead across the level, including the ones piled in heaps, with their heads ripped off or torn in two, were his victims as well.
Cutscene Incompetence: The animations for using the auxiliary systems or cutting/hacking things takes three or so seconds to start and one second to cancel. During this time, you are completely vulnerable to enemies and must go through the entire animations before you can move around again - therefore you are likely to die at least once from starting a hack just as the Alien walks around a corner while you frantically mash the cancel button.
You can't warn Dr. Kuhlman about the Alien on the other side of the door.
At one point, your objective is to look for Samuels but when you find him on the opposite side of a vent you're in, you can't even call for his attention.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Xenomorph is one on purpose. The developers even described the Xenomorph as having a timeline it follows to match your progress. As players have noted, it adapts quickly to how you play.
Determinator: Amanda. To note, she survives multiple encounters with the Xenomorph, gets out of the Gemini Labs sector after Waits decouples it with the Xenomorph still on board with her, walks through an entire hive underneath the reactor core, gets captured and escapes from the wall she's been cocooned to and manages to get back on board the Torrens while the station's systems are failing around her.
Dilating Door: True to the source material, virtually all the horizontal entrances to air vent crawlspaces are of an "iris" type that automatically open when a moving body gets near. Justified as these are air vents and it allows the aperture to carefully modulate how much air can flow in or out at a given time.
Disc One Final Dungeon: The Xenomorph is dealt with about halfway through the game, with Waits and Ripley trapping it in Gemini Labs and ejecting the entire module from Sevastopol. A large portion of the rest of the game is spent dealing with the androids going on a rampage... aaaaaaand then you get to the station's reactor, where you find an army of Aliens and Facehuggers, and destroying the reactor becomes the true climax of the game.
Diverting Power: Power switch boxes can be found all over Sevastopol, and because the systems are usually operating at only nominal capacity at best, Amanda often has to switch various systems on and off to gain access, evade hostile security, make distractions, or any number of other things.
Downloadable Content: Including the additional missions "Crew Expendable" and "Last Survivor" (which focus on the crew of the Nostromo) and a Season Pass with additional maps for Survivor Mode.
Dull Surprise: In areas where both the Xenomorph and Working Joes are present, the latter will usually greet the former with deadpan statements like, "What are you?", "This incident will be reported," and "Containment breach noted."
Dying Town: The state of Sevastopol Station when the incident began. Seegson had expanded quickly to be ahead of the curve on the "gold rush" of space exploration and settlement, pouring lots of resources into establishing places like Sevastopol, but the rate of growth was much slower than expected, and the investment became a losing prospect. Seegson had been trying to sell off Sevastopol piecemeal for years, and the station is currently partially decommissioned, with only a skeleton crew aboard and its supporting businesses shuttered.
Elite Mooks: The cleansuit-wearing "industrial" Working Joes can take about twice as much damage as their normal counterparts and are unaffected by EMP mines and stun batons. On top of that, your first meeting with them is shortly after Amanda has to lose her guns.
Everything Trying to Kill You: The other surviving humans on the space station are highly paranoid and many have decided to just kill anyone they see as a matter of safety, including Ripley. Then there's all the other things trying to kill you on the station, too.
Exact Time to Failure: MOTHER counts down the self-destruct timer during the "Last Survivor" DLC, just like in the original film.
Excessive Steam Syndrome: Inherited from the parent franchise and, like the parent franchise, can be exploited by those with the right engineering know-how. Turning on air purification functions from power switching panels will fill associated corridors and rooms with thick mist, reducing visibility and giving Amanda cover for sneaking by.
Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Marlow's wife and Ricardo both get impregnated by Facehuggers. And of course can happen to you if you don't burn or knock away a Facehugger in time.
Face-Heel Turn: Taylor, the easily-scared (and temporarily incapacitated) W-Y staff member, turns out to be the corrupt representative that tries to harness the creature for the Company. However, it's not extreme as most examples in the series as Taylor isn't purposefully malevolent to Amanda, nor does she continue to prioritize harnessing the Xenomorph once the danger becomes clear.
False Reassurance: The Working Joes are programmed to be polite to the point of condescension... even when they're about to kill you.
Fog of War: Downplayed, in that the motion tracker is unreliable in too-enclosed spaces, often giving inaccurate readings on the position of other moving creatures. It becomes completely unreliable in the Alien hive, where the Meat Moss everywhere bounces the readings all around and the tracker is confused by the many, manymoving contacts all around.
It's a given that Amanda stops the Xenomorph threat, considering that Weyland-Yutani is no farther ahead with its attempts to harness a specimen a half-century later in Aliens.
Amanda cannot find her mother or any clue on the specifics of what happened to her. She will be found completely by accident so Amanda's search will be fruitless.
Foreshadowing: There is a hive of Xenomorphs and Facehuggers in the reactor, but the Queen is nowhere to be seen. In the original film, a deleted scene showed physical evidence that the Alien could mutate humans into eggs, which would spawn Facehuggers. In the game, the Alien had captured hundreds of humans and harnessed them for the Hive, which heavily implies, if not outright confirms, that the Alien converted the inhabitants of Sevastopol into eggs and fed even more to the Facehuggers.
Gadgeteer Genius: Amanda definitely qualifies. She makes molotov cocktails, noisemakers, and even repairs a motion tracker using pieces from a children's toy- all while staying one step ahead of an unholy nightmare.
Game Over Man: The Alien itself, whenever it kills you. At least one of the death animations doesn't even show it; after you get impaled from behind, you see its spindly hand closing over the top of your face...
Gang Up on the Human: The Alien will eagerly kill other survivors just as much as it tries to kill you, but it seems to be generally disinterested in Working Joes unless one walks right up to it. The Working Joes, in turn, will pretty much ignore the Alien unless it straight up attacks them. The Working Joes' disinterest in fighting the Alien is at least explained by the fact they are operating under orders to protect it.
While the Alien's sense for tracking and finding the player increases with difficulty, its awareness of other humans is unchanged at best and at worst is often lowered due to the monster being obsessed with trying to find the player. This can result in scenarios where there are other groups of people walking around in the same room as the Alien, and the Alien will only notice and kill them once it has "lost your scent." If both Alien and human see you when you are, say, sprinting for cover, the Alien will chase you and the humans will fire at you rather than at the monster.
Gravity Sucks: The destruction of the Anesidora damages one of Sevastopol's stabilizing arrays, causing its orbit to shift into a decaying pattern as it slowly falls into the gas giant.
Half the Man He Used to Be: In Seegson Synthetics, you can find several corpses of Working Joes with only their top or bottom half.
Hell Is That Noise: The sound of the Xenomorph moving through vents is very distinctive, especially the racket it makes when it drops from a ceiling vent nearby.
Hope Spot: You are led to believe that you can save Samuels (who's trapped in the APOLLO interface machine) from certain death by disabling the cables in a certain order. It seems to work, but he dies a few moments later after telling Amanda where to go next.
Just like a typical Zombie Apocalypse story, the moment civil authority disappears aboard the space station, the situation immediately devolves into survival of the fittest, murder or be murdered. A lot of the humans on board the station are so paranoid they're ready to kill you on principle.
Contrary to what everyone on the station believes, the androids are not malfunctioning. Their hostility is because The Company gave a direct order that the creature was to be protected at all costs, "all other concerns are secondary." Secondary concerns include the androids' regularly scheduled duties and the lives of the station's inhabitants. Furthermore, Samuels is firmly on Ripley's side, while Taylor is revealed to be working for the company to secure the creature.
Amanda can carry several different types of weapons and implements on her (none of which appears on her in cutscenes besides her flashlight/headset), up to and including a revolver, shotgun, flamethrower, railgun, maintenance jack, gas mask, welding torch, motion tracker and several types of bombs/devices.
All of this can also somehow fit into a spacesuit. While you could imagine Amanda strapping some of her gear back or something, the idea of literally everything and the ammo that it uses fitting inside her pockets inside the spacesuit is outrageous.
Partially justified due to Ripley wearing a large bag slung across her back.
I Did What I Had to Do: Waits' explanation for ejecting the Gemini Labs module with the Xenomorph trapped - and Amanda still aboard.
There's also the Alien itself. It is completely impervious to gunfire, and getting close to it at all is instant death. The best you can do is hope to drive it off, but for most of the game all you will be able to do is hide from it.
Interquel: The events of the game take place during the 57-year Time Skip between the first two films, and deliberately invoke technology and equipment that is less advanced than that found in Aliens.
It's Personal: Marlow attempts to destroy the Anesidora (and, consequently, Sevastopol) with the ship's self-destruct mechanism because the infected captain of the Anesidora was his wife, and he's realized that the only way to destroy the creature permanently is to eradicate its entire environment.
It Can Think: The xenomorph is actually programmed to be kind of clever beyond simply picking up on your hiding habits. If you use your flamethrower on it enough it'll eventually start to hesitate if it sees you with the flamethrower pointed at it. It will also start to become bolder (because you're pissing it off) and need more sustained bursts of flame to get it to run away (and it'll start showing up more often).
Jump Scare: Several occur throughout the game, including when the Xenomorph ambushes you on the way back to Samuels and Taylor after retrieving the trauma kit, one of the androids grabbing your leg while looking through Seegson Synthetics and the Xenomorph confronting you when heading to the bridge of the Torrens at the end of the game.
Kill All Humans: Apollo orders the Working Joes to do this in order to protect the Xenomorph.
Kill 'em All: Sevastopol Station goes down with all remaining hands. And the Torrens is infiltrated by a Xenomorph.
You acquire a makeshift flamethrower a while into the game. It can be used to scare off the Alien, but isn't powerful enough to do it any permanent harm, and there's a chance the Alien will simply power through the flame and kill you. It also burns through its entire ammo supply in a couple of seconds, so it's very much an emergency weapon. It works quite nicely when incinerating Facehugger eggs in the hive, however.
You can also craft Molotov cocktails to lay as a trap for androids or humans, or to try to scare off the Alien in an emergency.
Incendiary Exponent: Androids can continue to attack you while burning after being set on fire.
Kung-Fu Proof Mook: Working Joes may not move very quickly, but their reflexes are surprisingly fast, and any attempt to melee a functional one will result in the blow being blocked and Amanda being killed. If the player can somehow stun or disrupt them though...
Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game's protagonist is Amanda Ripley, who is stated in Aliens to have died as an old woman (albeit, she lived a full life and was married) before her mother awoke from cryosleep. Additionally, a comic released a few months before the game also stated that Amanda stopped the acquisition of a Xenomorph. At the end of the game, Amanda seemingly survives as she is discovered by an unknown ship after airlocking herself and the last Xenomorph, but her ultimate fate is still unknown.
Late to the Tragedy: Amanda arrives at Sevastopol after the Xenomorph has attacked and presumably killed the crew, discovering several corpses and bloodstains in the process.
Not played as straight in the actual game. While the Xenomorph began killing before Amanda showed up, there are plenty of survivors even after the collapse of law and order on the station. Many of the apocalyptic logs the player finds refer to developments that happen during the game. You witness and play a role in a lot of the tragedy first hand as well.
Lightning Bruiser: The Xenomorph is this. It's blisteringly fast, highly lethal, and Immune to Bullets. Only fire seems to hurt it, but even that won't kill it. Combine this with its intelligence and sheer persistence and you have a monster that quickly becomes The Dreaded to both Amanda and the player.
MacGyvering: Amanda could give the original MacGyver a run for his money - she can improvise a sizable array of deadly weaponry using what passes for household supplies on Sevastopol. She can also rig the station's systems to do things not originally anticipated by their designers.
The Many Deaths of You: Amanda can be killed by the Xenomorph in several different ways (similar to the death animations from Aliens Vs. Predator), including impalement from behind and the Xenomorph deliberately coiling its tail around her and staring as she dies.
Master of Unlocking: Amanda, who can work her way through many locked doors using a security tuner (a kind locksmith's multitool for electronic locks.) Justified as she is an engineer who is qualified to use such devices, and it only functions on doors which have relatively low priority security measures. Acquiring additional codes expands the range of locks Amanda can bypass with it.
Meat Moss: The people who have gone missing after the creature had gotten lose had all been taken to bottom of the station's main reactor, where the creature set about building a nest and breeding more. In the manner of its kind, the place has been covered in living-looking secreted resin with victims cocooned into the walls.
APOLLO, and by extension Wayland-Yutani, who reprogrammed it to wipe out any human witnesses, may be considered a fifth player.
Mega Corp.: While franchise-wide go-to Weyland-Yutani is present (and in fact Amanda and her two companions are WY employees) the company mostly stays in the background in this installment. Brought into focus though is Seegson, a smaller and less successful competitor to WY. Since WY had the dominant position in the space industry, Seegson had to make their fortune by selling lower-cost derivatives of WY products and wider investments and subsidiary companies. Unfortunately for Seegson, their attempts to play catch-up to WY by aggressive expansion have proven to be a failure, and the company is in the process of economic contraction. As Sevastopol station's owners, this is reflected in the state of the environment as Seegson is trying to liquidate assets and can hardly pay for existing maintenance.
Meta Twist: One of the ongoing themes in the Alien franchise is that Weyland-Yutani is a Wretched Hive of Corrupt Corporate Executives who will happily feed anyone to the Xenomorphs if they think doing so will rake in a little more money. So it's a serious change when Taylor, the company lawyer, turns out to be a largely reasonable person and isn't saddled with the Villain Ball.
Metroidvania: Not advertised as such, but it hits many of the required details. Lots of places need Amanda to have found special tools to bypass, there are places where the player may pass through areas they visited earlier as either part of the story or just because they went backtracking, with previously inaccessible side areas opening up as Amanda's inventory expands.
Mission Control: Samuels, Dr. Kuhlman, Waits, Ricardo, Marlow and Verlaine all perform this role at various points throughout the game.
Muggles: Initially, Amanda herself is this, since she is an everyday engineer with no knowledge of the horrors on the station, and remains largely at the mercy of the more Genre Savvy murderers and looters that now populate it. By the end of the game though, the roles are reversed: she understands better than anyone the true nature of the threat, while the few remaining human nasties continue to loot and mug their fellows even as the station is burning up in a planet's atmosphere.
Never Trust a Trailer: The announcement trailer and early gameplay demos showed Amanda putting her hands up before being ejected out of an airlock. This moment is in the actual game, but done differently - she gets a spacesuit on before the airlock depressurizes.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: It is explained why Weyland-Yutani only sent a salvage team out on the surface of LV-426 after Ellen Ripley awoke and relayed her story in Aliens - Marlow disabled the distress beacon when the salvage crew of the Anesidora discovered the derelict ship.
APOLLO does this in more ways than one. Diverting all the Working Joes from maintenance routines to going on a killing spree keeps the surviving humans' guards up after they thought they had dealt with the creature. The Android attack leads Amanda to seek out and talk to APOLLO directly, where it tells her about how it was ordered to protect the Aliens. It then more or less leads her into the reactor core to discover the nest of Xenomorphs. The android attack is also what helped motivate Taylor to let Marlow out of his cell, which eventually lead to Marlow blowing up his ship and critically damaging Sevastapol and causing the station to fall into the gas giant, destroying the Alien colony.
Nintendo Hard: The "Hard" difficulty level (which is actually recommended by the game in order to have the most authentic experience) jacks the Xenomorph's sensory abilities Up to Eleven, as well as makes most enemy attacks a One-Hit Kill. Turn away for a second in a room while the Xenomorph is nearby, don't manage your health or items effectively or just don't stay as silent as possible, and you will be in for a world of hurt. It can also make some areas more trial-and-error than anything else, due to a lack of cover and/or major action set-pieces.
No OSHA Compliance: As is typical of the Alien franchise, though this example is a particularly justified. Sevastopol Station is in the process of being decommissioned when the disaster initially hits, and sections of it are disabled or missing as parts are removed and residents are reduced to a skeleton crew. Subsequent panic and social breakdown did the rest, and several sections of the station are unsafe.
Nothing Is Scarier: The announcement trailer deliberately invokes this, as it begins with a lack of music and lights turning on one-by-one in an empty hallway. Critical reviews even hammer this point, in that keeping your awareness on the Xenomorph is critical for survival; it is when you can't see the Alien that you should be worried.
Notice This: Environmental interactables, such as doors, switches, and item containers, all have an obvious green light on them.
Not So Different: Marlow compares himself to Ellen Ripley in this way when you confront him onboard the Anesidora - he explained that both of them understand that the only way to truly destroy the creature is annihilate every trace of the location it's in, up to and including their respective environments, to ensure it doesn't come back.
Off Screen Teleportation: The creature is capable of it, such as it might when pursuing directly behind Amanda during gameplay only to have it appear directly in front of her as that gameplay transitions to a Cut Scene. It also pulls this trick any time it knocks Ripley down while on fire, vanishing instantly. Its vent-crawling is fundamentally this behind the scenes, though it provides a bit more explanation. This may be justified because there is actually more than one Xenomorph on the station...
One-Hit Kill: Any attack from the Alien is instant death. As are Facehugger attacks.
Pacifist Run: The developers have indicated it's possible to play through the entire game without killing any other humans, and there is an achievement/trophy for doing so. You will have to terminate a number of Working Joe synths, though.
Technical pacifist run. Most ways of summoning the Xenomorph to do your dirty work for you don't count against the achievement. Using the stun baton (which has limited ammo) knocks people out indefinitely and lets you loot their body. In the game's code, the stun baton just kills people without increasing your humans killed meter.
Parental Abandonment: Amanda gets this after her mother (who promised to be home for her birthday) disappears after shipping out on the Nostromo, leading the former to believe she was abandoned as a child. The plot is motivated by her employer, Weyland-Yutani, alerting her to the fact that the flight recorder from the Nostromo was discovered and brought to Sevastopol.
Plot Twist: While Weyland-Yutani is a major background antagonist in the game and has control over the station, neither of the people (Samuels or Taylor) that the Company sent to retrieve the Nostromo black box are villainous like other Company underlings in the series. Instead Marlow, who is more or less the Ripley of the game, is the closest thing the game gets to an actual human antagonist, since he actively hampers your progress as you try to escape the station.
Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder: Amanda is quite susceptible to this - understandably so, given all the bad things that happen to her. It nearly gets her killed in the finale, though.
Press X to Not Die: Close encounters with the Working Joes (and certain encounters with the Xenomorph) require you to mash a button so that you won't be strangled by them.
Psycho Strings: A series of background musical chords that get more and more erratic the closer you get to the Xenomorph.
Retcon: This game explains why the colony on LV 426 never found the spaceship even as they terraformed the planet; scavengers followed the distress beacon to the ship and then turned it off in hopes of claiming the salvage rights all to themselves, which led to the Xenomorph getting loose on Sevastopol.
Retraux/Zeerust Canon: The design aesthetic deliberately invokes a "lived-in universe", and the environments harken back to the original film. Likewise, Amanda uses weaponry and tools that are deliberately less advanced than those seen in games that take place later in the timeline, including a motion scanner with a CRT-like monitor. As the production staff has stated in interviews, practically everything in the game (from architecture to sound effects) is inspired by the original film in some way.
The Reveal: There's more than one Xenomorph, and they've been building a hive under the reactor core.
Sevestapol was bought by Weyland-Yutani and APOLLO has been operating under orders from them for weeks in secret.
Retirony: As Markiplier points out in his playthrough, Sevastopol station itself is about to be retired when the events of the game occur.
Axel wasn't technically retiring, but he was supposed to be shipped out a week before the incident occurred.
Revisiting the Roots: This was the stated intention of the development team. To date, nearly every game based on the series has taken its cues from the later movies (from Aliens onward). Isolation revisits the franchise's Survival Horror roots, pitting a lone everyman protagonist against a single Alien in a dark spaceship, just as the original did.
Scenery Porn: The EVA sequences in missions 9 (which doubles as Continuity Porn), 16, and 18 exist for this purpose, especially since there are no enemies or dangers present. Gazing upon the Sevastopol in orbit around the gas giant and its surrounding moons and star is a truly breathtaking experience.
Scenic Tour Level: Waking up on the Torrens, arriving at Sevastapol, going through the spaceport terminal the first time. Pretty much everything up until Amanda gets a Click Hello is done without particular challenge or duress, though the game does its best to build tension during this time.
Schizo Tech: The computers seen in the game are typical 1970's green monochrome CRT computers in pretty much every way; except they're capable of playing full-color full motion video (albeit in VHS quality).
Occasionally, upon killing a Working Joe, their last words will be something about a dream.
Shown Their Work: The first reference anyone saw of Amanda Ripley in the movies was a photograph of British actress Elizabeth Inglis (Sigourney Weaver's mother) at age 66. In this game, Amanda Ripley's character design in the game is based on photographs of Elizabeth Inglis that were taken when the actress was 24. The developers's were thorough in their adherence to canon.
Smash to Black: Whenever the Xenomorph catches you, it'll always cut to black as it's about to deal the final blow.
Space-Filling Path: By the time it's all over you will have explored (nearly) every corner of every area on the station.]]
Stealth-Based Game: A good chunk of the game revolves around this, especially with the Xenomorph. You can barely fight it off, and even then, it's only a delaying tactic to get to a better hiding spot. If it sees you, it will come running for you with barely any time to react. Add in the fact that it can also use vents and likewise to sneak up on you, and you'll be checking your corners and motion tracker frequently.
Summon Bigger Fish: Tossing a noisemaker can attract the Alien, even to areas it's not currently in. This can be used to, for example, attack a group of hostile humans blocking your path. The tradeoff is that now you have to put up with an indestructible monster instead of five mortal humans.
In a few places you can do the same thing with a Working Joe instead of the Alien, usually by unlocking a door the android was trapped behind. While this would seem like it would be advantageous over the above, the humans will often get a few shots off at the robot before one of them goes down (normally the humans lose). The noise is likely to attract the Alien, which now has a robotic buddy to help find you.
Super-Persistent Predator: The Xenomorph is actively hunting Amanda throughout the game. Given its species' proclivity for violence and eliminating any perceived threats, this is very much a justified instance of this trope. Considering the second half of the game reveals a whole NEST of the creatures infesting the ship, though, it's possible Ripley was just encountering multiple specimens.
Surprisingly Sudden Death: Dr. Kuhlman gets yanked through a door suddenly by the Xenomorph just after walking away to collect his belongings.
Later Ricardo is taken out by a Facehugger mere minutes after he and Ripley were able to signal for help and without any build up.
Survival Mantra: In the "Last Survivor" DLC, Ellen sings "Lucky Star" to herself while running to get to the Narcissus at the end of the mission.
Three-Laws Compliant: We see both sides of this. Seegson Synthetics are clearly not Three Laws compliant, most likely due to their cost-cutting design and really stupid AI. They aren't very good at taking orders from humans, have little regard for their own safety and gladly kill humans with a little reprogramming. On the other hand we see at least one proper android who never breaks the first law.
Let's just say there are quite a few people running about who think they can take on the Alien mano a mano.
You can find some survivors, sometimes completely unarmed, out and about trying to get a soda or staring into the void of space. Some of these people seem to be traumatized to a point where they might not care if the Alien gets them though.
Some survivors will attempt to drive Amanda away with a warning shot, if not attack her altogether. Considering that the creature seems to be attracted to the noise of active humans, discharging a gun can be a suicidal move.
Tracking Device: You'll soon learn how regrettably unhelpful the Motion Tracker is due to the fact that it is noisy enough to attract the Xenomorphs when in use. This makes you more afraid to use it which only adds to the suspense.
Trash the Set: In the end, the Sevastopol Station has its reactor blown and sent falling into the orbit of the gas giant KG348 in order to fully destroy all the Xenomorphs.
Uncanny Valley: In-universe: "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" The Working Joes' selling point for their crash test dummy appearance is "many humans find dealing with human-real androids to be disturbing. With the Working Joes, you always know exactly what you're dealing with!" Though of course, in practice the opposite is true, making the Joes a much more effectively disturbing antagonist. Word of God is that the company manufacturing the Working Joes is behind Weyland-Yutani technologically, so they make up for it by manufacturing cruder synthetics at low-cost for the mass market, and the "working as intended" line about their less-than-perfect appearance is marketing spin.
In other words, Seegson claims that the Working Joes are so inhuman that they don't even enter the uncanny valley, and that the Weyland-Yutani models fall somewhere inside the uncanny valley. In reality, the Weyland-Yutani models have mostly crossed over the uncanny valley and the Working Joes definitely fall within the valley. To be fair, the Working Joes are inhuman enough to not be in deepest parts of the uncanny valley. They only really go from "unsettling" to "terrifying" when they try to kill you or start glitching.
Uncertain Doom: The fate of the Torrens crew and Amanda herself are not directly shown.
Used Future: Directly referenced by the developers as the aesthetic they like in the Nostromo: a '70s-style Used Future. There are posters, piles of litter, and stuff like ketchup bottles everywhere.
Referenced in the announcement trailer, via an air vent the Xenomorph presumably used to drag someone into.
Can happen to you, if the player is not careful. There are some places where the creature will hang motionless above an air vent in the ceiling, disappearing from the motion tracker altogether, and waiting for someone to carelessly pass under it. You can identify the danger by the drool dripping from the vent as the creature salivates in anticipation. However there's also one unavoidable instance near the end where Amanda is grabbed by a Xenomorph just as she's about to escape the station.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: One way of getting past groups of armed, desperate survivors who are so scared and paranoid that they will shoot any stranger on sight is to throw a noisemaker or other device which will attract the Xenomorph's attention, and let it do the job of ripping its way through them...
Also, at some points the game will give you an immediate game over if you attack a non-hostile civilian. And there is absolutely no way to tell the difference between a hostile and a non-hostile civilian unless you show yourself to them, which is a great way to get shot in the face if they happen to be the former. Fortunately, there are so few non-hostile civilians that this almost never comes up, and killing first works out fine most of the time.
Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Played straight as far as using it on the Working Joes go (setting them on fire takes way to long to kill them to be very effective, and being engulfed in flames won't dissuade them from trying to strangle you), but averted when it comes to the Xenomorph. It won't kill the thing, but a few quick burst will send it scurrying back into the air ducts. After you use it enough, just aiming the flamethrower at the Xenomorph becomes enough to make it hesitate for a moment.
Villain Has a Point: Even though Marlow is depicted as an antagonist, all of the films prove that his strategy of stopping the Xenomorphs by adopting a Kill 'em All mindset is the correct one.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Marlow, who is willing to destroy Sevastopol and kill everybody on board (including himself) to prevent the Xenomorphs from spreading.
Wham Shot: Upon being ordered to make the Working Joes stop killing everyone, APOLLO tells Ripley it can't because there's a problem with the station's reactor. When Ripley takes an elevator to the bottom of it, the first thing she sees is the entranceto an Alien hive.
What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not clear what happened to Verlaine or the navigator onboard the Torrens (as Amanda doesn't get near the bridge before the Xenomorph confronts her), or the ship itself after Amanda airlocks herself and the Xeno. Though, given that Verlaine doesn't respond to Ripley's last few hails, and the Xeno emerges from the part of the ship where they were, it definitely doesn't look good for them.
What the Hell, Hero?: Amanda gives Waits this when he ejects Gemini Labs from Sevastopol with the Xenomorph - and her - still inside. She chews him out for it after she gets back to the station.
Where It All Began: A flashback involves the crew of the Anesidora discovering the derelict ship from the original film.
You Are Too Late: When Amanda attempts to destroy the Xenomorph hive in the station's reactor area by triggering a reactor purge. She succeeds in destroying the hive, but some of the Xenomorphs managed to escape. Later on when she gets captured by a Xenomorph, she discovers that the infestation had reached the point where they had already created hives throughout the station, thus making her entire prior victory, meaningless.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Waits and Amanda lure the Xenomorph into the Gemini Labs module and eject it from the station, but immediately afterwards, the Working Joes become hostile and massacre nearly everyone in the Marshal's Office, forcing Amanda and Samuels to connect with APOLLO to stop it. THEN Amanda has to overload the station's reactor core to destroy the large Alien hive underneath it. AND THEN she has to stop Marlow from destroying the station by triggering the Anesidora's self-destruct system. AND FINALLY, she has to escape the critically damaged station before its orbit decays and it falls into the nearby gas giant. At the very end of the game, when she heads over to the Torrens... can you guess? An Alien confronts her at the bridge, and she's forced to vent herself and the Alien through the airlock.
Zeerust: A relatively modern take on it, as the "used to be someone's idea of futuristic" dates from late in The Seventies. This is to keep consistent with the original film, so computer monitors are bulky CRT-like screens that primarily display text in low-resolution green monochrome, while all other electronics have a boxy look to them instead of the sleeker designs that came to dominate in The New Tens. This carries on to other items as well: for example, the audio logs are recorded on magnetic tape reels and all portable music radios are ghetto blasters.
Oddly enough, the posters in the game usually have more of a 50's to 60's style of art rather than a late 70's early 80's vibe. This makes a little sense given that station was built a few decades before the game takes place, so the posters reflect an art style prevalent decades before the source material came out.