1979’s “Alien” stands as one of the most revolutionary films of the 20th century. Spearheaded by director Ridley Scott, the sci-fi horror flick revolved around a spaceship crew being encountered by a malevolent extraterrestrial being from an unexplored planet. Though the film was initially met with mixed reviews, “Alien” ultimately became a pop culture phenomenon was lauded for its groundbreaking visual effects and memorable leading monster. “Alien” would later become one of the longest-lasting franchises in Hollywood history, spawning sequel films, novels, and of course video games.
To this point, “Alien”-branded games have varied greatly in terms of quality. Released in 2013, “Alien: Colonial Marines” was an unmitigated disaster that was heavily criticized by critics and gamers for its poor quality. The game was even the subject of a lawsuit due to alleged false advertising. 2014’s “Alien: Isolation,” however, was a huge step in the right direction. Since then, a AAA single-player “Alien” game has eluded fans of the franchise. But that will all change soon with the release of “Aliens: Dark Descent.”
Unveiled at the 2022 Summer Game Fest, the announcement of “Dark Descent” is sure to create tons of hype, both for “Alien” fans and fans of sci-fi/horror at large.
The trailer for “Aliens: Dark Descent” was released on June 9, 2022, as part of the Summer Game Fest opening night livestream. The trailer shows a squad of Colonial Marines exploring a destroyed spaceship before being swarmed by multiple Xenomorphs. Though it is mostly a CGI cinematic, it ends by showing what appears to be a small snippet gameplay footage. In the trailer, the focal point is one Sergeant Leo Alvarez of the Colonial Marines, who has lost his entire squad in the attack and is recording a message for any search party that may come upon it.
Not much else is revealed in the trailer, be it a major connection with one of the “Alien” films or a previous video game. What is known of its setting is that the game takes place in the year 2198, nearly 20 years after the events of “Alien 3” and 181 years before the events of “Alien Resurrection.”
The reveal trailer for “Aliens: Dark Descent” did not have a specific release date for the game, but did show that the game will be available at some point in 2023. Following the reveal trailer, Summer Game Fest host Geoff Keighley disclosed that the game will be available on both consoles and the PC. Given that the announcement for “Aliens: Dark Descent” came in the thick of June 2022, a 2023 release date is a quick turnaround and implies that the game’s developer, Tindalos Interactive, is already rather far along in the development cycle.
While many recently announced games have pivoted towards exclusive releases on the next-gen of consoles, Focus Entertainment has stated that “Aliens: Dark Descent” will not only be available for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and the PC, but will also be released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well (via Game Informer).
While not explicitly advertised as gameplay footage, the end of the reveal trailer for “Aliens: Dark Descent” seems to show off what the game will eventually look like. It’s a short snippet that only lasts about 5 seconds, but appears to reveal that the game will played from a top-down, isometric viewpoint. It’s hard to extract any hard details about it, but viewers can make out what appears to be a health bar above one of the Marines’ heads, which implies that each one may have their own hit points.
On the game’s Steam page, Focus Entertainment says that “Aliens: Dark Descent” will be a “single-player squad-based action game.” Focus Entertainment says that squads will be fully customizable and that the game will be procedurally generated to ensure every player has a unique experience.
At this point, fan reaction has mostly been negative. With many preferring the first-person shooter and survivor style of “Alien: Isolation,” some have said that a top-down squad game isn’t what they were hoping for. One user on YouTube stated that they were looking for a direct sequel to “Isolation” and disagreed with the way the Xenomorphs were portrayed in the trailer: “Blasting them one after the other with a couple bullets is such an underwhelming waste and doesn’t work for me.”