There are many things that go into making a truly terrifying horror experience, but for me it’s the audio that has the greatest impact. The slamming of doors and rats scratching at the walls in Amnesia, the mad ranting and horrible threats of Outlast’s twisted inmates - they make me want to rip my headphones off and switch the lights back on.
In its latest developer diary, Creative Assembly offers a glimpse at their sound design process for Alien: Isolation, a game that we all hope is every bit as sweat-inducing and worrying as Ripley’s first encounter with the glossy, black xenomorph.
Creative Assembly has put together an orchestra that contains some of the original performers from Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, but they’re creating a new score. The studio even got its hands on audio recording and the design process from the film so they could attempt to recreate the effects in Isolation.
I can’t help but appreciate the apparent dedication to authenticity, an approach that Creative Assembly seem to be taking with the AI as well, but when you’ve been burned so often, it’s hard to take anything like this at face value.
And, importantly, there’s the massive differences between the film and the game that, thanks to the disparate mediums, can’t be bridged. The film ran for 117 minutes, and a significant amount of time was spent on build up. Isolation will be five-times the length, so the question is how Creative Assembly and replicate the tension and anxiety for this length of time.
Certainly, the dynamism of both the alien AI and the audio will go a long way to doing this, embracing the interactivity of the medium, something that isn’t possible in film. So maybe everything will be okay; lovely and filled with rainbows. Apart from the whole monstrous alien stalking you from the shadows and the constant feeling of fear and the inevitability of death, of course.