Facing one of sci-fi’s scariest beasts unarmed may not be safe, but it sure is exhilarating.
Not that Alien: Blackout gives you a choice. You’ll find no pulse rifles or flamethrowers in this survival-horror game. Nor is there combat of any kind. Like 2014 console and PC game Alien: Isolation, Blackout casts you as Amanda Ripley – daughter of Aliens’ queen-fighting heroine Ellen. But this semi-sequel is even more stealth-based than its predecessor.
When a damaged shuttle docks at Mendel research station, Amanda’s already in the ventilation ducts, hiding from the acid-blooded fiend that’s roaming the decks. And that’s where you stay for the rest of the game. Using a holographic map, cameras and motion detectors, you’ll direct those visitors to the gear they need to make repairs, so you can all escape the doomed facility.
The tension mounts as you guide your allies through new areas – partly because you can do only so much to protect them. Spot the Alien with motion trackers or cameras and you can trace a path on the map so people avoid it. You can also open and close doors at just the right moment to distract the creature, or put a barrier between predator and prey.
And telling folks to run or hide in the nick of time might just save them from a grisly fate. Don’t feel bad when you fail: some areas require quite a few tries, but it’s all part of the game’s nerve-racking thrill.
There’s no gore or graphic violence, but Blackout doesn’t need either to scare you silly. If hearing characters’ nervous whispers become frightened screams doesn’t rattle you, the Alien’s hideous screeches will. Especially when you don’t finish an area in time and your map shuts off, leaving you powerless. That’s when the real nightmare begins.