After being awoken from the cryogenic sleep she entered at the end of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Ellen Ripley learns that nearly 60 years have passed. Everyone she knows is gone. Her own daughter, Amanda, died during that time. Ripley’s mama-bear instincts would have kicked in to defend the orphaned Newt on LV-426 regardless, but with the young girl reminding Ripley of her lost daughter, the Alien Queen didn’t have a chance. In the expansive Alien mythology that’s continued to build over the years, we’ve never learned much else about Amanda Ripley-McClaren. That may change with a new video game called Alien: Isolation.
SiliconEra reports today that Twentieth Century Fox has filed a trademark for the title Alien: Isolation for use in “computer game and video game software, downloadable mobile software.” The title alone doesn’t tell us much, but the announcement spurred Kotaku’s Jason Schreirer to finally report on a story he’d been sitting on for some time now. Citing an anonymous source “familiar with goings-on at Sega,” Kotaku claims that Isolation is a first-person shooter game in development at the British studio Creative Assembly (Total War). More interestingly, the game will allegedly star Ripley’s daughter Amanda as the protagonist.
Apparently it won’t be a balls-out action shooter, but that’s probably good considering the fiasco that was Aliens: Colonial Marines is still fresh in the mind of many a pissed-off gamer. Instead, the game will mix the action with stealth and horror elements — Isolation is said to be taking its cues from games such as BioShock and Dishonored, both good things to be inspired by, IMHO.
Kotaku describes Isolation, and the role of Amanda, like so:
You, as Amanda, spend most if not all of the game on a single space station, according to our source. There’s only one alien for ‘most’ of the game, our source said; you’ll mostly be shooting through ‘clones and soldiers.’ Vents, lockers, and melee weapons are a big part of Isolation, our source said, and the game is heavily inspired by the first Alien movie.
That would explain why the title has dropped the pluralizing “s” for this one. That distinction is potentially very important since, although both are undisputed classics of the science fiction film genre, Scott’s Alien and Cameron’s Aliens are very different in style and tone. You would expect an Alien game to drop you into a more perilous, more frightening situation with less weaponry at your disposal, just like the crew of the Nostromo after their ill-fated expedition to the surface of LV-426. And given how badly Sega misfired with Colonial Marines, I’d think the next major Alien game would benefit from distinguishing itself from that failure in as many ways as possible. (Beginning, hopefully, with “being good.”)
The notion of focusing on Amanda is intriguing as well. We know next to nothing about her, which leaves plenty of room to spin an exciting tale. Perhaps Amanda went looking for clues as to her mother’s fate after Ripley went missing and presumed dead. Who knows where that sort of investigation would take her? It’s also worth noting that clones played a major part of the plot in Alien: Resurrection. That movie unfolded long after Amanda died, however, so presumably Ripley clones won’t be a factor in Isolation.
Of course, there was a time when Aliens: Colonial Marines looked to have all the promise in the world. The notion of an in-canon game sequel to Aliens was enough to spark the interest of die-hard fans of the franchise everywhere. Several delays and a developer change later and we got a game almost universally panned by critics and a spectacular waste of a good idea. Hopefully, Alien: Isolation will prove that you can still make a top-tier Alien game, so long as you have the right talent and the right approach. Fingers crossed that Isolation will prove to have both.
Alien: Isolation has yet to be officially announced, but Kotaku’s sources suggest it will release on both current- and next-gen consoles sometime in 2014.