HandsOn Alien Blackout Is a Mobile Game for People Who Hate Mobile

first_imgStay on target Hopefully Alien: Blackout Isn’t The Next Diablo Immortal Last week, I got to check out the upcoming Alien: Blackout. Naturally, I went in with some mild skepticism given the platform it’s on. Thankfully, this isn’t the typical mobile game experience most of us dread. Developers Rival Games, D3 Go!, and publisher FoxNext are doing justice to the Alien franchise by staying true to its sci-fi horror roots. They’re also showing the world that a mobile game doesn’t need to have microtransactions or superfluous add-ons in order to make it engaging. Alien: Blackout is a mobile game for people who hate mobile games.Alien: Blackout stars Amanda Ripley, who is the daughter of perennial Alien protagonist, Ellen Ripley. Those who have played 2014’s Alien: Isolation are no doubt familiar with Amanda. Though Blackout takes place after Isolation and Aliens, it isn’t exactly a sequel. It is certainly situated in the Alien universe, but it is its own distinct story. Still, as a fan of Alien: Isolation, I’m happy to play another game with Amanda Ripley. I don’t know if and when we’ll get a sequel to that title, but this is a nice nod to fans of Isolation.When you think about Alien games, mobile isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. Because of this, Rival Games knew it had to remain true to the spirit of the franchise (specifically, the original film), in order to make it all work. This is something TQ Jefferson (Vice President of External Development, FoxNext), gave the developer credit for.“Rival Games and D3 Go! came to us with a really compelling pitch for a game,” said Jefferson. “The gameplay mechanics, the way the story unfolds, it was something that we haven’t done on mobile before. It got us excited right away on it. Part of what I give them credit for is holding true to their vision. They were very clear about the game they wanted to make and not diluting it down by adding additional features to it. Rather than let it morph into design by committee or into a different game entirely, they held true to what it was.From the onset, it felt like it was right in the wheelhouse of Alien and very appropriate for the brand, the characters, and the alien. It also hearkens back to what originally scared the bejesus out of us from the first film. Put all that together and we had something we felt excited about and we felt fans would be excited about.”Blackout is set on a malfunctioning space station which is now the home of a nasty xenomorph. Hidden inside of a security terminal, Amanda Ripley must help guide a group of four crew members to key points of the station in order to repair it. Fixing broken components isn’t exactly difficult for the experienced crew. The real challenge comes from repairing the ship while keeping the crew and Ripley away from the alien. This is a deadly game of cat and mouse, to be sure.You can guide the crew by pointing to objectives or drawing lines with your finger to said objectives. The user interface players interact with is identical to the one Ripley uses. The interface looks like something straight out of the first Alien film, with its simple, monochromatic display. Players can instruct crew members to stop, hide, or hurry up. Cameras within each area give players a clue to the xenomorph’s location. Motion sensors help as well. However, not every room has motion sensors or cameras so it’s easy to lose track of the alien, especially when it crawls into a vent.As you help guide the crew, you can open/close doors and turn cameras on or off. All of this consumes power. If you only have five power nodes, you’ll need to be aware of how many reserves you have left. You don’t want to have zero power at a time when you need to close a door to save a crew member. You also only have eight minutes to complete each of the seven levels. Given the limited power supplies, time restraint, and keeping track of four individuals, things can get very tense. Players need to keep their wits in order to get everyone out alive.The best way to experience Alien: Blackout is with a good pair of headphones. Sounds are extremely important. They literally mean the difference between life and death in certain cases. For example, if Ripley makes too much noise by issuing orders, the alien can and will find her. The alien makes noise when it enters a room, letting you know if you need to tell crew members to hide. The sounds of closing doors are a great way to distract the xenomorph. The game forces you to constantly keep your ears open, which is essential for survival.Visually speaking, this doesn’t look like a typical mobile game. The graphics are akin to Alien: Isolation, which was itself heavily inspired by the art design of the first Alien film. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this was a console or PC game. It really looks phenomenal for a mobile title. The dimly lit hallways filled with retro-futuristic technology help give players the feeling they’re in the Alien universe. This is by far the best-looking mobile game I’ve ever seen.“These guys [Rival Games] are so respectful of the IP that they wanted to recreate the cinematic experience wherever they could,” said Jefferson. “That first film is seminal in so many different ways. It’s a beautiful film. It’s beautifully shot, beautifully lit and they wanted to do that justice. Being so focused on their design and scope helped them to push the visual quality.”You’ll be happy to know Alien: Blackout has absolutely no microtransactions of any kind. After the initial $4.99 asking price, you’ll never have to spend another penny. This is not only great news for consumers, it also speaks to the confidence the team has in the game. It doesn’t need to have any crazy add-ons to make it a compelling experience. Also, things like boosters or power ups wouldn’t exactly jive with the atmosphere Blackout is trying to convey. One has to respect the level of restraint in this regard. The devs had a very specific vision and didn’t want to tarnish it with unnecessary add-ons.“This game was originally pitched as a premium product,” said Jefferson. “It was never at any point in time free to play. This is true to the original vision, which I think is rare these days and it’s refreshing. It’s incredibly authentic to Alien and you can see the care that went into it and we’re proud of it.”Alien: Blackout is not at all what I imagined. It does an admirable job of capturing the tension and suspense of the Alien franchise in a unique and enjoyable way. It also manages to avoid all of the negative aspects of mobile games; namely, cheap graphics and microtransactions. As a person who normally doesn’t give these titles a second glance, Alien: Blackout demonstrates the untapped potential of mobile platforms. Hopefully, we’ll get more games of this kind moving forward.Expect Alien: Blackout in the Apple and Google Play stores on January 24.More on Geek.com:After Bungie and ‘Destiny,’ Please Free Blizzard From ActivisionOf Course, ‘Red Dead Online’ Is Getting A(nother) Battle Royale ModeRazer HyperSense Is an Entire Rumble Ecosystemlast_img