Set 15 years after the events of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda (mentioned often in the films but never seen) is offered to accompany a team to Sevastopol, a giant space station, in order to retrieve the flight recorder for the Nostromo (the original ship in the film) and find out what happened to her mother. Of course, things go disastrously wrong: Sevastopol is a wreck upon arrival, androids are mysteriously hostile, survivors shoot on sight and a terrifying presence stalks the station. Allies are few and far between, enemies are everywhere and when the titular antagonist finally makes its appearance the tension that the game has built is so overwhelming it’s almost anticlimactic to finally see the Alien in its entirety.
The story cleverly uses the huge 57 year gap between the events of Alien and Aliens to tell a story that’s both flexible in storytelling and faithful to the franchise. There’s no cheap retcon or shoved in ‘canon’ material (thanks, Colonial Marines), it’s just an old school Alien story, one that will strike familiar to any fan of the first film. In fact, it’s just a bit TOO similar to the film. Everything that happened in Alien/Aliens pretty much is copied in Isolation. It’s especially detrimental when plot twists and story beats are pretty much ripped from the films. The most refreshing plot point involving openly hostile androids adds a mix to the story (and gameplay) that adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story. It’s all faithfully done, but Isolation forgets that it’s not an adaptation, it’s a standalone game, and the line is blurred just a bit too much as the game chooses to play it safe. There’s a lot of wasted potential to explore the Alien mythos and setting further, choosing to replicate an arguably perfect film.
However, all of this can ultimately be seen as a positive to the fans of the franchise, as there is no other game that will make you feel like you are actually in Alien more than Isolation does. The story reflects the atmosphere and presentation in that it just feels like a true part of the Alien franchise.