E3 2014: Alien: Isolation and the Future of the Ping Dynasty
The sickly green light on the screen flashes. Save for the metronomic tones pulsating from the machine, the station is silent. There’s nothing to be seen, but this little box is all-knowing. Something is there.
Ping… Ping… Ping. Ping.
The box quickens the rhythm. Whatever is out there is getting closer. A quick peek at my surroundings shows a blip blipping ever nearer. Stranded in the darkest corners of a space station, my hopes of survival dwindle with every step. I am being hunted. And I am terrified.
Ping. Ping. Ping-Ping. Ping-Ping.
A set of pipes over our heads exhales steam as if they’ve been holding their breath for days. The little box in my hand struggles now to keep pace with my heart’s escalated beating. “Come on,” I whisper under my breath. “Come on and just do it already.”
Down the hall, lights are flickering in an indecipherable pattern, mocking me with randomness. They know I’ve lost control of the situation. Of my wits. Of my sanity. Ever so slowly, I inch myself closer to a nearby door. It’s just a few feet away, but it might as well be on another planet.
I can’t even bring myself to look at my companion. The only friend I have here in orbit is a machine that seems happy to know more about how near I am to death than I do. But that’s impossible because electronics don’t have feelings or intelligence. After I’m dead, will my little box remember me? This is how I know I’m losing it.
I allow myself a glance at the box. One last look at an old friend. Its screen betrays no emotion. My palms are sweating, my heart is racing, and this, the only safety I’ve ever known, is a cold, clean slate. Would that I could be as hardened to the situation. I step brusquely through the threshold into the next area. The door closes, and for a moment, serenity washes over me, and I allow myself to breathe again.
The sound snaps my pupils out of dilation, and my eyes harden to the darkness in front of me. Tables with equipment used for gauging weights and measurements, but nothing resembling a way out of this torment.
My friend is talking to me again, but I’m not sure it’s a conversation I want to be a part of. There’s an exit somewhere. A place for me to escape whatever it is that’s lurking on the periphery of my panic. A burst of flame escapes captivity from a machine on the other side of the room, and the muscles in my body contract so sharply, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest.
Ping. Ping. Ping.
There’s the dot again. It’s nearer than before and likely within the confines of this room, I begin to make my peace. “A suitable coffin,” I think. “Spacious. That’s nice.”
Where once hope could have been seen in my eyes, all that would be seen there now is a sad lack of desperation. I am become my little friend, the box. Emotion is wasted on the living.
Blankly, I stare at the creature as it emerges from the exposed wires and piping one architect dared call a ceiling above. Slender, it unpacks its limbs to ease the pain of being cramped into the spaces between. There is no reason to run. My life was forfeit the moment I touched down on this platform to the heavens.
As death reaches for me, I allow myself a momentary glimpse into a world where I did survive this encounter. There again though, I was met with the glistening darkness facing me down. A delay of the inevitable. Even in my dreams, I cannot escape the futility of the abyss. What lofty aspirations.
Its mouth opens, and a short burst of pain later, I am finished.
Alien: Isolation will be available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on Oct. 7.