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Alien: Isolation's challenge mode is a space-time conundrum


In addition to the main story-based campaign, Alien: Isolation features a separate time-based challenge mode that combines the game's space-based scares with an inherent need to get a move on. In the E3 demo I played today, the Xbox One build tasked me with escaping an area while a timer ticked upwards. There were three achievable bonuses that would cut into that accumulation of time spent, won by doing things like finding ID tags, locking down the stairwell and not using the motion tracker. That last one was never going to happen, especially without a map this time around to fall back on.

The first time I played Alien: Isolation it creeped me out, but I only suffered death at the xenomorph's hands once. This time I died a total of 7 times across just over 20 minutes, and barely made it anywhere near the supposed exit. My drooling hunter gruesomely killed me no matter what I tried to do, be it crouching quietly behind barrels, hiding in a locker, or torching the fiend with a flamethrower. One full blast - all I had - merely scared the pursuer off, but my new found safety was always brief.

Gallery: Alien: Isolation (1/20/14) | 8 Photos

As before, I tried moving slowly and crouched while pointing the radar-like motion tracker in just about every direction. Unfortunately one time I forgot to point it up, and the out of nowhere lunge and chomp from the ceiling was particularly disheartening. Creative Lead Al Hope told me it wasn't as if the challenge mode was designed to be any harder, so I can only surmise what I probably always knew: I'd gotten really lucky the first time.

"I think that's what's amazing," Hope said. "You watch people play it and everyone has a different story. It's very much whether it's [the challenge mode] or the main game. It's a single-player experience, but it's almost like a multiplayer game where everyone has a different story."

Hope wasn't able to confirm if the challenge mode sections are adapted from the main campaign or built from fresh, or how many different challenges to expect. Still, I again enjoyed suffering in those authentically designed cabins, steam-filled corridors and flickering lights, but the concern remains how that survival horror experience will play out and evolve across the full game.

We don't have to wait too long to find out, because The Creative Assembly's space horror takes off on October 7, landing on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

[Image: Sega]

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