The Alien franchise has been around since the 1970s and has developed into one of science fiction’s most legendary storytelling universes. Over the years, many game publishers and developers have tried to capture the magic of the franchise, some succeeding where others have failed. (For a brief exploration of the various Alien(s) video games, check out this piece from Boss Rush Network).
One of the most successful entries of the franchise into the video game world has been Alien: Isolation, published by SEGA and developed by Feral Interactive and Creative Assembly. With a combined 900 employees, these developers absolutely nailed the atmosphere of the original horror film, from the antiquated technology to the heart-stopping terror of hiding from the Xenomorph.
SEGA hasn’t always succeeded with capturing the feeling of the original films. Expectations were probably never higher than with Aliens: Colonial Marines, which sadly disappointed fans in an epic manner. The game was developed by Gearbox, a sizable company with nearly 550 employees; nevertheless, this major developer sorely missed the mark.
This past August, Aliens: Fireteam Elite got its chance to finally deliver a gripping story within the Aliens universe, perhaps finally capturing the unique qualities of the second film. Developed by the 45 employees of Cold Iron Studios, the game took a fresh approach to the Aliens franchise, decidedly avoiding the Ripley retread stories and instead opting for fresh narrative. They even worked with Titan Books to coordinate a prequel novel to enhance the story. For many die-hard fans of the franchise, the game nailed it.
One major critique of the game, however, is that despite providing epic adventure in the online co-op play, the game is simply too short, with too many glitches. To its credit, Cold Iron Studios has worked hard to address these concerns, releasing numerous patches, providing intimate Q&A sessions on its Discord, and even providing a road map for future development. Ultimately, the studio is simply too small to put out massive content that fans want at the speed they want it. That said, the content that the game does provide is deeply satisfying and feels fresh, a noteworthy accomplishment given the Aliens franchise has already saturated the gaming market.
Tell us what you think! Should small developers like Cold Iron Studios be trusted with major franchises? Does the unique storytelling and fresh approach justify the trade off? Share your reactions in the comments below or join the conversation on Boss Rush Discord and Facebook.