Given their immense popularity, it’s clear that a lot of people love survival horror and stealth games. I don’t. These are two genres, often presented together, that I actively dislike. This is for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the games. Many of them are clearly very good. Especially for the people who like them. I’m just not one of them and the blame for that lies entirely with me and my personality and nothing else. The specific reasons for this are the topic of another article.
Yes, I hate survival horror and stealth. But I love Alien: Isolation, a game that is both. I really love it. I love it so much that when I was done playing it, I went on a desperate search to find other games that were like it. I couldn’t really find any.
There are of course many survival horror games. And there are even games that play somewhat similarly to Alien: Isolation. Games like SOMA, a critically acclaimed and universally loved game in its own right. And deservedly so. It is amazing. But while games like SOMA do scratch part of the itch, they don’t really fill the Alien: Isolation-shaped hole in my soul.
So I had to ask myself why I loved Alien: Isolation so much but not other similar games in the genre. There were a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the amazing job Creative Assembly did in recreating the authentic Alien film experience.
Everything felt like it was from the same universe as the film. The visuals, the sound, the minimalist music, the relatable haggard existence of those who are out and about in space to do work. The degraded retro-futuristic technology. And of course, the tension. That same thrilling anxiety you feel as the titular alien stalks its prey from the shadows yet rarely makes an appearance. It’s all in Alien: Isolation in good measure.
I was so smitten with Alien: Isolation because of exactly those things. Because it was Alien. A franchise I already loved and was deeply familiar with. And that playing the game gave me the same familiar feeling that I grew up with while watching the (mainly first two) films. It was a sense of nostalgia that I wasn’t even really seeking. It hit me by surprise.
Because it was a franchise I already adored, I gave this creepy survival horror game a chance. And loved every minute of it. I know it is superficial, but the same game with any other coat of paint wouldn’t have appealed to me. And that’s on me.
Could there ever be a game in this genre that appeals to me the same way outside of an actual sequel (something that we’ve been assured will never happen)? Well that’s where The Terminator comes in. Maybe.
Last month, French game development studio Nacon announced that they were working on a Terminator game. The game was announced at their annual Nacon Connect event and was going to be released sometime “in the distant future.” (Ugh!)
I love the Terminator franchise almost as much as I love the Alien franchise, so any mention of a new entry immediately piques my interest. Especially after the box office failure that was Terminator: Dark Fate. A great film that, for reasons still debated years after its release, did not attract the ticket sales it seemed like it should have.
So I was delightfully surprised to hear that a new Terminator game was being made. And by a seasoned studio like Nacon! What really piqued my interest though, was that it was announced as an open world survival horror game.
And there it was again. Survival horror. A genre I don’t like, but loved with Alien: Isolation. And since I love Terminator nearly as much, this got me thinking: What if Nacon’s Terminator game does for Terminator what Alien: Isolation did for Alien? What if Nacon’s Terminator even played a little bit like Alien: Isolation? How great would that be?
“Really really great!” I replied to myself. In my head, not out loud. Actually it was out loud. I started to get excited as I thought about the possibilities. Unreasonably excited. I am, after all, well aware that the likelihood of lightning striking twice is extremely low. But I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful it would be if maybe this time it did.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it needs to be “Alien: Isolation but Terminator.” Not at all. But what if the premise of the game was similar? That you, the player character whoever they may be, is being stalked by a single terminator unit in the dilapidated post-apocalyptic aftermath of judgement day. That the emphasis of the game play is not on attempting to combat the terminator, but on escaping it.
What if Nacon’s Terminator game feels—visually, audibly, and in every other way—authentic to the Terminator franchise the way Alien: Isolation did to its best source material? And what if playing it gave me the same nostalgic feeling by experiencing the Terminator universe as represented in its three good films?
Well that would be great. But I’m not going to get my hopes up higher than they need to be just yet. And I’m not saying Nacon can’t do it. They certainly can, and I hope they do.
All I’m saying is that I hope they treat Terminator with the same reverence to the source material and meticulous attention to detail that Creative Assembly did back in 2014 with Alien. If they do, Nacon’s Terminator would be a game worth playing no matter what the game play is like.
Nacon has stated that they love 80’s movies. I have no doubt about this. After all, why take on a Terminator game and a Robocop game at the same time? They’re both franchises that have unfortunately stagnated but have huge potential to be rejuvenated if the right people are involved. And if the source material is treated with the same reverence.