Among all of the admittedly subpar video games that spawned from the blockbuster franchise Alien, Alien: Isolation has been the one diamond in the rough that shines as an inspiration to all movie tie-in video games. Now, I am sure that phrase fills players and, indeed, moviegoers anywhere with a sense of dread and trepidation.
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The expectation is that you will usually encounter one of two flavours; There are the bland cash grabs that just latch onto a movie’s popularity to pump out a generic but overall inoffensive game to bring in some easy money. Look at any of the “Transformers” games from the Michael Bay era.
Or, much worse, you have the “oh god, what is this monstrosity? Burn it and the movie it came from just get it away from me” flavour. Let's pick an obvious punching bag for this second type, “E.T The Extra-Terrestrial”, a game notoriously so bad that they simply buried a bunch of cassettes of it hoping to forget about the whole thing. Alien: Isolation bucked this trend in the best way possible, and now the stealth masterpiece is available for players to download on iOS and Android.
Seeing as the player is working alone on the ship, surrounded by hostile groups of humans, who are in turn, also, being stalked by an alien intent on sticking its claws through anyone it can find, you mainly rely on stealth to try and survive long enough to get off the ship. You can find various tools to assist with this endeavour, ranging from a motion tracker, to know which direction to run away from, to noisemakers so you can distract that rather mean-looking bloke with a big gun up ahead. This is precisely what you will be wanting to do because the touchscreen controls on the mobile version can be a bit of a handful.
This is normally fine, but when you are crouching and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, but accidentally push that joypad a bit too far as you try to will the door closer you are suddenly no longer crouching. You are instead now automatically sprinting at full speed, and whilst Alien: Isolation does boast some excellent AI, even a game with awful AI would have its enemies notice this and subsequently eat you. I looked in the settings extensively and I could not find a way to turn off either the auto sprint or the automatic crouch cancelling.
This is why we play these games, and while playing on a tablet I did not feel anything close to that. It is hard to get drawn into the atmosphere when it's on a smaller screen, and even harder still when you are trying to get that terror from a screen that permanently has two thumbs in the way.
Feral Interactive did a very just job translating most of the controls down to a phone/tablet screen and you can survive with the sensitive controls. You could even play it with a Bluetooth controller instead and avoid these problems completely, however for me I can’t help but feel like you lose some of the atmosphere that Alien: Isolation was so heavily applauded for when playing on a smaller screen.