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Alien: Blackout – atmospheric stealth strategy game

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Developer: D3PA
Price: $5/£5
Size: 556 MB
Version: 1.0.3
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Alien: Blackout

Amanda Ripley just can’t catch a break. Whatever intergalactic hoodoo that plagued her mother through the four main Alien movies seems to have been hereditary.

After making like Sigourney Weaver in 2014’s Alien: Isolation console game, Ripley Jr. finds herself crawling through the vents of a fresh alien-infected space station in Alien: Blackout.

Catching the alien on camera is always a thrill

Thankfully she has some company. Indeed, it’s up to Ripley (and by extension you) to babysit a crew of four through an unlikely escape attempt.

You’re essentially on overwatch here, with access to the space station’s camera, movement tracker, and security door systems. Through these you can track and corral the solitary xenomorph as it attempts to hunt down your new buddies, being sure to watch your own six when it heads for the vents.

You’ll need to be alert for when the alien targets Ripley

It’s a bit like indie horror series Five Nights at Freddy’s, but with a skulking xenomorph in place of a demented animatronic teddy bear.

There’s only sufficient power to run a handful of these systems at a time, so your time is spent nervously flicking between them. You’re never fully aware of where the alien is at any one time, and the first you’ll often hear or it is the frantic screams of the crew.

The alien shows up as a red dot on movement sensors

When they are being hunted, your options are limited. You can guide them to new areas by touching and dragging on their representative blip on your little tablet device and shut the security doors behind them, or ask them to hide.

While this lack of control and limited awareness makes for a tense, precariously balanced game, it can also be immensely frustrating. You’ll need to get a feel for the game’s demands, as it doesn’t do a great job of spelling out exactly what you should be doing moment-to-moment beyond the core mechanics.

Add in a glacial pace and Alien: Blackout has a very particular flavor that will turn off players looking for immediate thrills and a clear path to success.

You’ll be seeing this screen a fair amount

There’s a decent narrative thread to Alien: Blackout, as you might hope for in one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises of the past few decades. It’s nothing deep or original, and the game doesn’t waste much time setting the scene.

But each crew member has their own distinct personality, which is in keeping with the wider Alien franchise. There’s the cool female pilot, the pompous scientist, and the company executive who clearly knows more than they’re letting on. At best it helps you care a little more when one of the team gets dragged away, but at the very least it makes the game feel like an authentic Alien experience.

The crew is a classic Alien assortment

All in all, the various components of Alien: Blackout tie together into an effectively tense – if limited – stealth strategy game. Play it at night with headphones on, and we guarantee your heart rate will speed up like the motion tracker from Aliens.