Alien Isolation is shaping up nicely. Having spent four solid hours playing the latest Steam build, I can report that its adaptive AI and terrifying unpredictability makes for a very different kind of horror game.
However, the fact that sections starring the original Alien voice cast are only going to be available as pre-order DLC -- or paid DLC down the line -- has got many a hackle up across the internet. I naturally asked lead designer Gary Napper exactly why they'd taken the controversial move.
"We knew we'd created the world and we knew we'd got everything we needed," Napper explained to me during a video interview (embedded below). "But the more we looked at it, the more we thought, "yeah, if we could set something aside from the story that featured the original cast, it would be absolutely amazing." There was a great moment on the team when we were saying, "do you think we could get Signorney Weaver into this?
"Sure, we spoke to 21st Century Fox and once we found out that she would be interested and we could get some of the original cast it just seemed to us like, we could make something separate from the main campaign that was set on the original Nostromo and rebuild it. It didn't really fit with the main game so it was something we kinda looked at and thought, "this would make sense to do and build it and we actually had a chance to do it."
"They're chunks or scenes from the original film," Napper continued when I asked exactly what form the DLC would take. "You can relive those moments from the film and it's almost like, if we were to make the game of the film, it's a step towards that."
However, considering that the decision to lock authentic Alien content away behind extra paywalls has proved extremely contentious for some fans and gamers, I had to push further on the subject. Why DLC? Why pre-order DLC?!
"We never really set out to make the game of the film. We wanted to make the Alien scary again. We wanted to make the feeling of the first film, but with our own story and our own environment. The original film is a couple of hours long and you can't really translate that to a full videogame without really expanding and retconning a bunch of stuff! We knew we wanted to set it after the first film, we knew we wanted one Alien, so we knew exactly what we wanted to build. For us, it was always "this is the game we want to make." When we got to feature the original cast, it gave us a couple of options we could do on the side."
I'd never say that we're the game of the film, but we definitely recreate the feeling of the first film."
We'll be the judge of that (personally, I reckon they'll pull it off with aplomb), but what do you make of the reasoning? Is this a case of a fun optional extra worth an additional payout, or an example of holding fans to ransom? Let us know in the comments!