The Alien: Isolation team says they didn’t build any gadgets that couldn’t have existed on the original 1979 Alien film set.
The Alien universe has a very “retro-future” aesthetic – that is, big, push button consoles and CRT screens rather than holograms and touch panels – and the team behind the upcoming Alien: Isolation want to stay true to that. The new “low-fi sci-fi” trailer for the game explains how the team went about designing the in game electronics to adhere to this philosophy. Basically, if it could not have existed on the set of the original 1979 film, it won’t be in the game.
“This is a game set in the future, but based on the past,” said Al Hope, the game’s creative lead, commenting on some of the techniques they used to maintain authenticity. He gave an example of taking on-screen elements (that is, anything that is displayed by those clunky CRT monitors in-game) and actually running them through a VHS tape while fiddling with the cables to distort the image.
Jon McKellen, the game’s UI lead, says that his artists studied the work of Ron Cobb, the original concept artist for the film, to try and capture that iconic Alien feel. “If we could understand his process, we would be able to expand on the universe, while still remaining faithful to the original source.”
Gary Naper, a designer on the game, added that the low-fi sci-fi approach doesn’t just inform the visuals, but actually influences gameplay. Alien fans will be familiar with the franchise’s motion-tracker, which is clunky, difficult to read, and not even really that useful.