A Whole Damn Book About Alien: Isolation

A Whole Damn Book About Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation is the kind of game you play and then just can’t stop thinking about. From its unique design to its fully-realised world to its moments of sheer terror, it’s a game like no other, and despite coming out in 2014 there really hasn’t been anything like it since, either.

I was admittedly late to this party, since I didn’t get around to it until last year, but I had my reasons! Most of which boil down to the fact I am an enormous baby who doesn’t enjoy playing scary video games. For Alien: Isolation though, I’m glad I (eventually) did, because what I found after playing it was that the game had wedged itself into my consciousness, to the point where I felt the need to go and write a whole second review of it for the site.

Image: Perfect Organism
Image: Perfect Organism

All of which is to say I could write and read about this game until the dying of the sun, so it’s cool seeing that UK games writer Andy Kelly has announced Perfect Organism, a big hardcover book that’s going to take a very deep dive into the game (and the universe that inspired it), covering everything from the art and design process that went into Sevastopol Station to behind the scenes development stories to an examination of the game’s legacy and critical reception.

Here’s Kelly’s pitch:

I’ve been obsessed with Ridley Scott’s horror masterpiece Alien for as long as I can remember — and I mean really obsessed. Most people watched the movie and moved on with their lives, but the dark, claustrophobic corridors of the USCSS Nostromo, and the shadowy extraterrestrial horror that haunted them, never left me. I’ve spent decades devouring books about its production, poring over behind the scenes photos, set blueprints, and interviews with the cast and crew, and digging out every new scrap of information I can find. I won’t stop until I know everything there is to know about this movie.

I’m not alone. There’s something about Alien that makes obsessives out of people — including The Creative Assembly, a British development studio who, in 2014, not only created the best horror game ever made, but the best Alien game ever made. Inspired by the distinctive retro-futuristic aesthetic and oppressive atmosphere of the 1979 original, Alien: Isolation is a game I always dreamed someone would make. It was created by a dedicated team of artists, writers, and engineers — and, crucially, Alien superfans — who were just as hopelessly enthralled by the source material as me.

But why write an entire book about it? I can’t think of many games I could write tens of thousands of words about, but that’s what makes Alien: Isolation so special. From the art direction, AI, audio, and music, to the level design, user interface, characters, and locations, this is a game of remarkable depth, complexity, and detail. After multiple playthroughs and countless hours spent researching it, I’ve amassed a huge amount of knowledge and insight about every aspect of the game — and I want to share that with you. I’m just as obsessed with it as I am with the film, and this will be evident on every page.

The book is inching towards its crowdfunding goal (and may have surpassed it by the time you’re reading this), and you can order yourself a copy at the publisher’s site.

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