Monday, October 20, 2014

Peak-a-death

How an encounter with the alien usually goes in Isolation:

Look, there it is, I should run away.


Too late.

I have muttered 'oh come on' and thrown my hands up in the air more times in frustration than I care to admit. This is not an easy game. The alien behaves almost randomly, only he always seems to be where he needs to be in make you nervous. Human encounters are almost worse: if they figure out that you are hiding in a ventilation shaft they will just sit at the entrance and wait you out. The first human encounter took me almost an hour. This was an hour me poor Ripley getting shot because I came around a corner too quickly or waited in out place for too long. I was attempting to play stealthily in a Metal Gear Solid way watch the enemies long enough and you will find the gap in their patrols. In Isolation someone always shoots you in the back or, worse yet, you get torn in half by an eyeless uber-predator.

This does not cause a problem because Isolation makes no attempt at hiding the fact that it is a merciless stealth game. Even when you have ammunition, which you rarely do, shooting humans or androids just brings the alien running. Sneaking is the only way and even then you are going to die, often, in messy ways.

The problem is that all save points are manual and they are spread way the fuck out. If the alien kills you a few feet from your destination but fifteen minutes of play time from the last save point guess who gets to go back and do it all again. And again. Repeated trips though areas break the immersion because you quickly figure out where it is scripted that you can been seen and heard and where it isn't. Dangerous areas are scripted to be dangerous and nothing you do before will prevent that. To the same token safe areas are always save (unless you start throwing pipe bombs around) so you can sprint through, uneaten.

There may not be an easy fix for this. Isolation is making every attempt to stay true its vision, that combat is never the correct option, and it is hard to fault a game for doing what it says it is going to do. This makes the game inappropriate for marathon sessions, at least for me. There is only so much frustration that I can take.


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