App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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The most terrifying thing about the Xenomorph from Alien is how unknowable and unpredictable it is. This is what made the original film so effective. In the time since its release though, very few Alien properties have actually realized this. Instead, it’s usually used as a cool design for a bad guy in more action-oriented movies and video games. This is not the case with Alien: Blackout, though this game seems a little too derivative and random to feel truly scary.
Hide and seek
Alien: Blackout has you playing as Amanda Ripley, who is trapped on board a Weyland-Yutani space station that has been invaded by a Xenomorph. The space station in question has already been decimated by the alien, and you need to use what little functionality and power the vessel still has left to guide the remaining crew members down a path to survival.
While looking for ways to escape the ship, you’re constantly being hunted by the Xenomorph, so you need to be careful. Don’t make too much noise. Hide when it’s near. Use motion detection when available. To make matters worse though, you don’t have the luxury of taking things slow and steady. The space station’s damaged state limits your access to power, meaning you have to get your crew to complete objectives before you lose all access to power and experience a blackout.
Quite a looker
The gameplay of Alien: Blackout should be familiar to you if you’ve played Five Nights at Freddy’s. Your character, Amanda, is holed up at power terminals and is observing and guiding crew members as they move about the ship though security cameras. You can give your team specific commands, turn motion sensors on and off, and close doors to your immediate location if the Xenomorph decides to come after you.
Much of what you’re doing in Alien: Blackout is just observing and reacting, but that’s not such a bad thing considering how good the game looks. This game makes extremely good use of light and shadow, and is also rather faithful to the look and feel of the Alien movies.
Alien: Blackout’s impressive visual design is quite an accomplishment, but I wish the rest of the game was as well executed. The game itself isn’t terribly long, and its gameplay is directly lifted from a game that’s five years old at this point.
It also doesn’t help that the Xenomorph in Alien: Blackout doesn’t always feel like a capable hunter. It can definitely snuff out your crew in a second if it finds them, but its movements feel completely random. It doesn’t seem to react to doors opening/closing. Sometimes you see it just moving in circles. At others, it’s a perfect killing machine and can detect where your crew is even if they’re hiding. This makes the process of playing Alien: Blackout kind of frustrating. You’ll definitely restart levels quite a bit, and it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to do differently to succeed on your next run.
The bottom line
Alien: Blackout is both too familiar and too inconsistent to successfully capture the spirit of what made Alien so good. Ultimately, this game feels like an expensive-looking Five Nights at Freddy’s with a Xenomorph that can’t decide whether it wants to be a preternatural stalker or meandering doofus. You can have moments spine-tingly suspense with Alien: Blackout, but a lot of the time they’re undercut by random mishaps.