Alien: Blackout Review

I don’t scare easy. That’s always been the way since I was young. So these days movies/game/comics find quite a challenge with me, even when playing Alien: Isolation.

So I wasn’t expecting much to frighten me in Alien: Blackout. Never the less I decided to ask for early access to test out the game and compare the experience playing it on my Android HTC U and Apple iPad 6th Gen.

The terror of Alien is brought to life in Alien: Blackout. Try to stay alive while trapped aboard a crippled Weyland-Yutani space station carrying a deadly Xenomorph as it tirelessly hunts you and the crew. Outsmart the perfect hunter by making perilous choices. Players must rely on the damaged controls of the space station or risk sacrificing crew members to avoid deadly contact, permanently altering the outcome of the game.
 
Survive seven fear-inducing levels by remotely guiding Amanda Ripley’s crew through increasingly challenging tasks using only the station’s emergency systems. The uncertainty and unpredictability of both the alien and her crew can impose total defeat for Amanda and the entire station. 
 
Alien: Blackout is a unique fear-inducing horror premium mobile game experience that will test the inner nerves of both Alien and horror fans alike, where life can end in an instant. ALIEN: BLACKOUT

Alien: Blackout

In the Alien Universe, Alien: Blackout takes place shortly after the events of Alien: Isolation. Amanda is now on Mendel Station and has once again become the sole survivor of a Xenomorph outbreak. Expecting a rescue after sending out an SOS, the ship USCSS Haldin docks with a small crew in need of parts.

You have a chance to familiarise yourself with the game layout, it demonstrates the easy tapping finger gestures to control the doors to prevent the Xenomorph from attacking the players, this idea was actually born from the moment in Alien: Covenant where Walter/David shepherds the Xenomorph to the terraforming bay to face off with Daniels. I have experimented with the doors and I find that when you use them, it can attract the Xenomorph with the noise it makes as it opens and closes, it has helped me many times to distract it while I get the crew to safety.

The station cameras are used to locate mission tasks, players and of course the ever moving Alien. I really thought I’d be using the cameras more often to keep an eye on the players, but in playing the game I find myself relying on the map to locate the crew and the Alien. Which really immerses you into the situation playing out in front of you, the vulnerabilities are so much more clear when you can view the map.

When you have your eye on the personal computer you don’t have a peripheral view of the vent where you are located, this can be a major issue since the Alien can use the vents to travel from room to room. During this time the Alien is not visible on the map or the cameras, you can only detect its movement by using your headphones.

SURVIVE OR DIE – Using only the space station’s limited power supply to operate a holographic map, surveillance cameras, and motion tracker, attempt to remain hidden and protect your crew from the perfect hunter in seven fear-inducing levels.  

A NEW CHAPTER IN THE ALIEN FRANCHISE – A new chapter in the Alien franchise following the saga of Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, between the films Alien and Aliens.  

FIRST CLASS ALIEN MOBILE EXPERIENCE – An immersive and captivating Alien experience, perfectly designed for mobile gaming, bringing the Alien story to life.  

ENCOUNTER FEAR AGAIN AND AGAIN – Every decision can be fatal! Fewer crew members make missions more challenging. Players can test different strategies and theories to outlast the Xenomorph in pursuit of victory!

ALIEN: BLACKOUT

Ok, so maybe this part scares me. The sound design in this game is magnificent, it is exactly like it is in Alien: Isolation. My pulse definitely gets going when the Xenomorph is running through the vents towards my location. I always have a finger hovering over the bar (For comfort ) which takes me back to peripheral view…

So as well as keeping an eye on the crew, you have to be aware of when the Alien may attack you as well. But when it does you have an opportunity to close the iris, despite you being aware of the Alien’s whereabouts. You lose sight of the crew because your personal computer turns off when the power is rerouted to the iris. Which leaves you blind until your personal computer boots up again.

This makes everything so much more immersive, you really feel like you could be Amanda in that vent. The stress inducing couple of seconds as this technology you are so dependant on slowing and painfully takes its time booting up again. Once it has though, you are returned to the map with the players having moved from their original position.

There is indeed the jump scare factor when the Xenomorph directly attacks you, for me, it is more a feeling of frustration that I have failed at timing closing the iris.

The crew are also sensitive to noises around them, displaying a half red bracket towards danger. In these instances, I quickly tap hide and chose to open and close a door on the other side to draw away the Xenomorph.

These close encounters can cause the crew’s heart rate to spike, in a panic they tend to run around and scream. It is best that you ask them to hide if an Alien is detected close-by and only come out once the coast is clear.

I like the use of RUN and HIDE which was also used in the marketing campaign for Alien: Covenant.

You can direct your crew to mission points by selecting them and the area of interest, also directing them by drawing your finger along the map. For some reason it reminds me of Nintendogs when you take your dog for a walk, it is a very simple and easy add-in which gives you more control and it is more about multitasking and less about waiting around. But having said that, the crew must walk very slowly and quietly to each section or they risk attracting the Alien. As the mission starts you usually get a grace period where the Alien won’t attack, I have been utilising this time to ask the crew to hurry up and get to their destination.

Because the crew of Mendel Station were under attack, the station is set to power down every 8 minutes, forcing a Blackout. So on top of watching out for yourself, watching out for the crew and watching for the Alien. I enjoy this use of time as a factor, a clear call back to Alien.

The gameplay is mildly difficult and very stressful to get a perfect score, taking a bit of skill to multitask. The graphics are high quality, although I haven’t tried mirroring it to my smart television yet. The story and voice acting quite engaging, the characters, depending on who survives will shape the ending.

Even the musical score is beautifully done, the major instrument a violin which really brings out the isolation and hopelessness of the situation Amanda finds herself in again. It definitely feels like I am back into the world of Alien: Isolation which I believe would be a difficult feat for any mobile game to live up to.

I have played it on both my HTC U and Apple iPad, having tested it on both I suggest investing in getting a tablet to play the game as it is part of the immersive aspect to be in Amanda Ripley’s shoes. The larger display aids in viewing what is happening, although some smartphones are quite large these days, there may not be an issue.

The reviews are rolling in and so far it is positive. I have remained positive from the get go about Alien: Blackout and it has surpassed my every expectation on every level, if you aren’t playing it because you think mobile games can’t be good. Be prepared to have your mind overwhelmingly changed.

Alien: Blackout is published by FoxNext and D3 Go and developed by Rival Games and Theory Interactive.

Alien: Blackout is now available through App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore.

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