Alien: Isolation Preview: Amanda Ripley’s ‘Parallel Story’
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Between the end of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien and its sequel, the James Cameron-directed movie Aliens that was released in 1986, some 57 years is said to have passed in the story.
As The Creative Assembly’s Lead Designer Clive Lindop put it, that’s one of the “amazing voids” in Alien franchise lore. And those voids allow for parallel stories to be told — like the one in Alien: Isolation, CA’s first-person survival-horror that’s based on the Scott movie, rather than Cameron’s take.
“The ship is incredibly expensive and very important to the company, but in that 60 years, nobody went looking?”
In a December interview with Game Front during an Alien: Isolation preview event at Creative Assembly’s studios in England, Lindop explained that the game’s development team posited that, from what we know of the Nostromo, the ship that serves as setting for Alien, it’s likely people back on Earth would have wondered what happened to it.
“We’re told the ship is incredibly expensive and very important to the company, but in that 60 years, nobody went looking? Nobody went to discover what happened?” Lindop said. “The analogy we draw is that, an airliner disappears in the Atlantic or a ship sinks, and we spend millions looking for it, getting the black box, investigating, having industrial tribunals and crash investigators. So that all happened, right? So what was the outcome?”
That investigation, Lindop said, would likely have had a great impact on the daughter of the Alien franchise’s protagonist, Ellen Ripley, and that impact sets the stage for the story of Alien: Isolation.
The Other Ripley
Amanda Ripley serves as Isolation’s protagonist. In the 15 years since the events of Alien, Amanda has grown up to become an engineer at Weyland-Yutani, the same company that employed her mother, said Lead Writer Dion Lay. She’s been haunted by the disappearance of her mother all her life, Lay said, and when Amanda is notified that the black box from the Nostromo has been discovered by a salvage team and brought to a remote space station call Sevastopol, she takes the opportunity to join the team sent to retrieve it.
“Of course she wants to know. She wants those answers.”
Once aboard Sevastopol, Amanda finds her search for answers quickly shift into a fight for survival against a single alien that’s prowling the station. Much like Alien, the game focuses on the survival-horror elements of that scenario. As Senior Producer Jonathan Court put it, it’s a return to the original themes of a “haunted house in space.”
But it’s those theoretical events during the aftermath of the Nostromo disaster that Creative Assembly thinks would have shaped who Amanda would grow up to be, and eventually put her on the path to the events that take place in the game.
“Naturally emerging from that question of why does nobody know, 60 years later, what happened to the Nostromo, was Amanda Ripley,” Lindop said. “She was 11 years old when the ship disappeared, so all these things would have happened around her. These investigations of crew failure or whatever it may be, so her entire adult life as she grew up, since the game is set 15 years after the Nostromo disappeared, had all been about this mystery of the ship disappearing, her mother disappearing. And now she’s a young adult, in her mid-20s. When that chance suddenly appears to find out what happened — this black box has been discovered from Nostromo, it’s being held on this station — of course she wants to know. She wants those answers.”