A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alien: Isolation isn't for younger players, primarily for the large amounts of violence, blood, and gore but also because of horror elements; players will be hunted by aliens that respond to their every mistake and track them down, with graphically shocking results. The game also packs lots of jump scares on every level; young kids and many teens might not be able to handle the stress of the tense action sequences. Seen from a realistic first-person view, you play as a young female protagonist who can shoot and kill aliens using an assortment of guns and bombs; you can even set them on fire. Scenes that depict Amanda Ripley's death can be disturbing, as she is impaled or bitten on the face by huge jaws or suffers more graphic fates. Intermittent strong profanity ("f--k," "s--t"), primarily during jump moments. Serious privacy concerns; although you can play with other people online, it's completely unmoderated.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
As you'd expect from a video game based on the iconic Alien movie, ALIEN: ISOLATION is a creepy sci-fi game that has you fighting nasty aliens in a survival-of-the-fittest scenario. You play as Ripley's daughter, Amanda, who roams the many corridors and rooms of a large space station. You'll destroy alien creatures big and small using a number of weapons, from shotguns to flamethrowers to explosives. Along with action and exploration, this first-person game also includes some puzzle solving (hacking), character interaction, and hunts for collectible items.
Is it any good?
Though it's not without its issues, Alien: Isolation builds nicely on the coveted film franchise to create an engaging, atmospheric, and challenging game. First, the not-so-good news: Once you load the game, you need to download an 840 MB file and wait for it to "patch" the game. Then, the first hour or so could be frustrating for players who aren't sure where to go and what to do. Even with instructions such as "go to the bridge to talk to so-and-so," you might find yourself lost or in a room with people who stare blindly ahead as if you weren't there (even old story-driven shooters such as Half-Life 2 had characters who would look at you and say hi or ask a question); characters who won't acknowledge your existence disrupt the all-important immersion factor. One other issue: If you die -- and it'll likely happen often -- you might load a save-game slot that requires you to repeat parts of the game. Frustrating.
Things improve greatly once you start fighting creepy aliens. The cat-and-mouse play is terrifying and exciting; in fact, the interactivity and the tension of Ripley being hunted under your command makes Isolation far scarier than the film. You'll need to figure out how to best approach the creatures, what to use, and where to position yourself. Being chased by aliens is equally exhilarating. The game supports an optional PlayStation camera for head tracking (you can peek around corners by leaning your head, and Ripley will do the same) as well as noise tracking (if you make any noise in your home, it might attract aliens). Along with the single-player campaign, which has varying levels of difficulty, there’s support for multiplayer modes, downloadable content, collectible items that add to the backstory, and other extras. Despite its issues, Alien: Isolation is a thrilling game that might not be as good as the hype but still serves up a thrilling experience -- if you play with the lights off and speakers cranked.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents can talk about the fact that most video games based on movies aren't very good. How does Alien: Isolation fare? Should game developers continue to create games based on coveted movie franchises?
Talk about violence in games such as Alien: Isolation. Is the violence against the aliens OK because they're not human, or is it hard to justify a violent game like this? If you've seen the movies, how does the games compare?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sega of America
- Release date: October 7, 2014
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Robots, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.