I bought Alien: Isolation a few years ago. Looking at the graphics I knew that my machine couldn't really handle it. I run the game around 30 fps at the time on the lowest settings.
I saw every Alien movies multiple times, although my favorite is the very first one, which I saw when I was young. Not a lot of movies had the affect on me like Alien. A truly frightening experience.
Why Alien:Isolation is so good?
From the moment you start up the game you can see the devs are big fan of the original movie. VHS styled logos for the different companies, the original quote from the movie, loading screens, etc.
Then they go well beyond what you can expect from a movie inspired game. A nice intro about Amanda Ripley - daughter of Ellen Ripley - who still hasn't give up on finding her mother. The events of the game plays between the first two movies (Alien and Aliens). If you saw the director's cut version of Aliens you know what that means. If you want to truely enjoy the game, please watch at least the first movie, and if you want something different, than the Aliens Director's Cut.
Back to the game. Samuels, a co-worker of Amanda, tells her that they found the Nostromo's flight recorder, and it's on a space station, called Sevastopol. So our - and Amanda's - journey has begin.
The game has one of the most beautiful graphics I have ever seen. The whole space station is very detailed, and many of the objects are straight from the movie. 20th Century Fox gave 3 Terra bytes of data from "Alien". Shadows, lights and fire are amazing, and from the start it really felt like I am walking on a space station.
The station is being decommissioned so it looks kind of empty, but it's understandable, since people leaving it. The whole station has unique spaces, it doesn't feel like they just copy-paste some rooms to make everything larger. The space station is indeed quite large, which later
Screenshots doesn't do the game justice, you have to be there to believe it! I wish we could have a separate mode where we just could walk around without worrying about our lovely stalker monster.
The cutscene animations maybe not the best (especially Ripley's hair), but I have seen worse. The voice acting is very well done from everyone, and it makes connecting with characters much easier.
And we have a nice surprise, since Sigourney Weaver returned as Ripley for the game. Let's just say that her part is very emotional both for Amanda and for the fan of the movies.
Also the Nostromo's crew reprise their role for the DLCs, which we can play some of the scenarios of the movie.
The sound design is excellent from the Alien itself to little sounds. The music is haunting (listen to the soundtrack: Youtube)
Let's just say, you can have the nicest, best graphics, the original characters back from the movie, the sound design, etc, if the Alien itself is not smart enough, or doesn't feel like a true nightmare, then this game is an absolutely failure. The entire game depended on the Alien.
And I am so glad they recognized that! The Alien is an unpredictable killing machine, the perfect organism. While many people complained that the AI is cheating, that's absolutely not the case. In fact because of how good the AI is, the game has replayability. Nothing is predetermined, unless you count certain places where the Alien had to be present for the story progression, but it also feels natural.
For me, it felt like I have to use every tool at hand to go past of this monster, because she is really clever. You will use your ears more than your eyes, since she is using mostly the vents to get around of the station, and she is fast. Note: she can use the floor- and sidevents, which can be a problem on harder diffiulties.
No weapon is good against her, you can only scare her away with flamethrower, or a Molotov. This is a true nightmare, like in the first movie. I cannot stress enough how well they remade the movie in an interactive form.
Gamespot and IGN heavily critized the game for no reason other than they can't play the game the way they want. Simple the game is too diffult for them. They scored the game around 6, and the IGN review still get angry comments 4 years after the game's release. Many people believes that these bad scores contributed to not getting a sequel, since most of the reviews were positive and the fans love the game.
One thing still makes me laugh when I read new players on forums, how they cannot progress and they use the lockers frequently. Well you really should hide in them. The Alien is circling very well. You always need to be moving, by either walking or crouching. Use the map as often as you can, since the motion detector's sound can attract the Alien if she is close. Also on Nightmare difficulty the tool is giving us fake readings where the Alien might be (and no map, so you have to know the station by heart).
Craft as many items you can. Even on Hard difficulty there is enough junk around to build just about anything you need. Always have enough medkit to get out of tough situations. Learn to aim well with throwable things, like the noisemaker, or the molotov. My favorite thing is to use noisemaker vs the Alien.
Also conserve flamethrower ammo later in the game, as you will need it more at some point. Pistol is good against normal androids, but you later you need shotgun and a special weapon against tougher enemies.
Don't waste your ammo against humans. If you want the don't kill anyone achievement, it's quite easy to do, sneaking around should be in our blood.
This is a survival-horror stealth game. There is no reason to make noise, other than you make when you play the game (cursing). In fact on console there is a gameplay option which - if you turn it on - it will pick up your microphone, and will handle if you are making noise the in game.
I think not using the simple tacstics above made many people frustrated, and since the game doesn't hold your hand (there is no tutorial level, only screenprompts), you either learn it by accident, or you read up some guides - which can spoil the fun a little bit. I learned many things on my own way, and I spent 60 hours playing the game.
The story, I am not going to lie, is long at first, and later there are many instances when we have to backtrack to other part of the station.
However I feel that even this give a little bit more to the Alien experience. There is no easy way out of Sevastopol. This is no Outlast, which is basically a speedrun game, masked as a horror game.
In Alien: Isolation you have to play brave, and sometimes take chances. Dark room and headphones are essential. No game ever made me to freak out like Alien: Isolation. Every little piece adds to the immersion that you are playing as Amanada Ripley.
The game is often on sale on different websites, and even the DLCs are worth it, if you want other challenges.
Alien: Isolation is the best movie based video game.