Alien (pc game)
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Less-than-classic sci-fi thrills
Don't let the title of this one confuse you: it's got nothing to do with the classic sci-fi movie of the same name. What it is however, is a distinctly sub-par piece of interactive fiction, which although intriguing in its premise, is let down by a number of significant issues. The game's set-up is quite promising, casting the player into the shoes of the lone survivor of a space-based disaster involving a luxury cruise liner. After escaping via a lifepod, you now find yourself stranded on nearby planet, which wouldn't be so bad except for the hostile monsters which just happen to be running around. Your task is now to survive, locate the only other humans on the planet and then try to figure a way off and back to civilisation. So, Alien is not particularly original but the premise is solid enough and certainly makes for an engaging narrative. Unfortunately, the game's biggest problems lie with the core gameplay. Being a text adventure, like Zork or The Tracer Sanction, Alien relies on a parser system for movement, interaction with objects and characters and puzzle solving. However, the one on display here lacks the sophistication of Infocom's standard-setting system and is rather limited in the words it understands. For puzzle fiends, the game will also be disappointing as there are relatively few, with a greater emphasis on exploration which leads to another issue. There are a lot of instant death situations which are simply unavoidable and which prove highly frustrating in their frequency. If you can get past these problems, there is a reasonable adventure to be enjoyed here, with a nice plot and some decent writing, but if you are looking for a classic piece of interactive fiction, this isn't it.