Alien: Blackout hands-on preview: Xeno on the go

The long-running sci-fi series makes its way to mobile later this month in the form of Alien: Blackout. We got a chance to check this egg out before it hatches.

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Through its long and storied pop culture history, the Alien franchise has taken many forms, especially when it comes to video games based on the films. The latest addition to the prolific series comes in the form of Alien: Blackout, a brand new mobile title whose launch is just around the corner. I had a chance to go hands-on with the iOS version of the game to find out what kind of experience players can expect from it.

alien blackout screen NPC's being hunted

Canonically, Blackout takes place between after Isolation but before the Aliens film, although the developers were quick to point out that this is a stand-alone title and not a sequel to any previous incarnation. Players once again take on the role of iconic heroine Amanda Ripley. This time around she finds herself trapped on a space station that has somehow been ravaged by a xenomorph. Despite Ripley sending out a warning signal for ships to stay away, a Weyland-Yutani vessel with a four-person team mysteriously shows up and is going to need some scrubbers if they’re gonna get off the station.

From there it’s up to Ripley to guide these NPCs through several intense levels in the hopes of escaping. The game plays out sort of like Five Nights at Freddy’s or the classic FMV game Night Trap but has its own twists on the genre. Basically, you as Ripley are stationary in a command center with access to a map for each level. You must assist the NPCs in tracking and avoiding the alien on board by monitoring cameras, locking and unlocking doors and keeping an eye on motion sensors. You can also give the NPCs routes to follow by dragging a line from them to their objective.

When the alien gets near an NPC, you’ll have to warn them to hide before they become the creature’s next victim. Ripley herself can also be attacked by the alien, so you’ll also have to listen for audio cues that it’s heading her way so you can lock it out. In order to throw off the alien, you can do things like open and close doors in empty areas to lure it, or do things like have an NPC run one way while another NPC heads towards an objective. Be careful though, because once a character is dead, that’s it for them. And if all four die, there’s no way Ripley is getting off that station. Each level also has a ticking clock factor and once it reaches zero the power goes out and everyone is doomed.

alien blackout map screenshot

Depending on who lives or dies within the game’s several levels players will experience different dialog trees and endings. Certain NPCs are better at specific tasks as well, so sending the right person after an objective can save precious seconds. Levels never play out the same way twice either since the alien AI doesn’t follow any sort of pattern or timing. It can literally pop up anywhere at any moment, which makes utilizing the map and estimating its position so key.

Playing games like these are always very intense for me personally and Alien: Blackout was no exception. The pressure to keep everyone alive while multitasking commands and monitoring cams as well as listening for audio cues created a very suspenseful atmosphere during my hands-on time. I’m not sure it’s the kind of game I’d play on the go though just because I don’t want to be randomly screaming on the subway train.

alien blackout main game screenshot

Alien: Blackout is set to launch on January 24 for iOS, Android, and Amazon mobile products at a suggested retail price of $4.99

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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