Following our last foray into experimenting with the alien – in which we discovered that we could possibly block the xenomorph exiting the air vent – we figured at minimum we needed to try it again. However, it proved to be a lot less successful than planned: given we started trying to replicate the edge case, only to be continually munched on by the alien. So I’m going to call that particular instance from part 4 a mishap: perhaps a one-off bug or something like that.
Moving on, we still found ourselves in the medical wing again in an attempt to find the trauma kit required in order to provide medical support for a friend. It resulted in what was initially one of the most frustrating experiences I have had playing the game to-date. I simply couldn’t find any purchase in the game world and was repeatedly getting killed as a navigated through what was a relatively small, but non-linear sequence. It wasn’t the first time this had happened to me, but I was simply getting lost: the game hadn’t really made it clear to me what my objective was meant to be at that specific point in time and the alien continued to stay very close to me. This led to reaching my objective and hearing the sound of gun-fire. Upon popping out of the room where the trauma kit was found to assess the cause of the noise, I walked into the alien! Not very smart… However, upon going back to try this part again (hooray for save files), I figured out that the noise was due to other human characters in the vicinity.
This time they were wondering around in a group of three, but without the alien anywhere to be found. So in the previous instance, the alien and the party of (I’m presuming hostile) humans must have bumped into each other. So it wound up the next task was to attempt to replicate that particular behaviour: given that I was trying to reach a particular area of the medical wing in order to disable the security. It was one of those rare instances where I opted to use a crafted tool such as the noisemaker, as I hadn’t found much reason to do that thus far. But it worked out really well, given it helped lure all parties into the same area and then, well, I’m not exactly proud of what happened, but it’s too late for that now. With the security unlock out of the way – which included avoiding some pesky working joe’s – we managed to escape the area, complete with sexy cutscene full of near-deaths, explosions and much more!
Once all the excitement dies down, things took a decidely quiter turn, with an emphasis on avoiding human characters for a time. This leads us to gaining the assistance of a friendly Working Joe in order to give us access to otherwise restricted of this corner of the station. It subverts the established narrative to-date in that not only do we have friendly NPCs wandering around the environment, they are essentially unwanted signals on our motion tracker. This naturally proves to be an issue as we move into the next chapter of the game, where we are tasked with boxing in the alien in a corner of the station that is gradually becoming smaller and more confined. These walkways become extremely limiting, with few opportunities for navigating the environment safely. This does however introduce an unexpected and fortuitous outcome, in that the xenomorph will periodically become distracted by the goings-on of the docile Joe’s. Interestingly, it doesn’t opt to kill them and instead continues on as normal.
Given the issues of restricted movement, the game opts to provide something of an olive branch to help with this conundrum: a flamethrower. We’ve repeatedly been offered items that either help to distract the alien (noisemakers, flares), or hurt other non-player characters such as Joe’s and fellow humans (pistols, EMP bombs) but to-date only the Molotov is of any use in dealing with the creature. However, they are time-consuming to craft, expensive to make and generally cumbersome to use: with the risk of either poor aim, or bad timing resulting in either the alien still killing you, or you accidentally setting yourself on fire. The flamethrower is an interesting addition given it is a means by which to subdue the alien in a controlled manner from a distance, which isn’t really an option we’ve had up until now.
Adopting the flamethrower proves all too easy, given that it removes any inhibitions of wandering around the environment. Should you bathe the beast in flames, it will run away to the nearest air vent to hide from the player. Experimenting on the alien with the flamethrower proves interesting: waiting in the same area and scorching it each time does not result in building any sort of memory of the players location. While that is disappointing, it was exciting to observe the alien reacts when the flamethrower is brandished in front of it and is initially reluctant to attack you. However, this does not mean that the alien will always run away: should you be too late in firing the flamethrower, it may either injure you and then escape or simply shrug off the fire and still kill you.
All of this will prove rather pertinent in part 6, as we re-assess the value and freedoms afforded by the flamethrowers adoption.