One of the most impressive things about Alien: Isolation is its set design. Since the game takes place shortly after the events of the first Alien film, the designers opted to populate the game with technology more in-line with the 1979 classic than its sequels from 1986 and beyond. The result: a wonderfully retro-futuristic period piece loaded with CRT monitors, beige plastic, and beveled edges. So many beveled edges!
Here are eight of our favorite retro designs.
If you’ve seen Aliens – and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you? – you’ll remember the pulse-pounding feeling of the motion tracker’s ping! That film takes place years after the events of Alien: Isolation, though, and technology moves fast. So Isolation‘s developers reverse-engineered the motion tracker into a form better-suited to the game’s setting: chunky, monochrome, and so big that Ripley can’t ready a weapon while it’s equipped. That ping is every bit as terrifying, though.
You’ve been eluding the titular alien for what feels like hours, and you can’t help but feel like the odds are building against you. You’re thinking it would be a pretty good idea to save your progress. But hold up there, champ: In a delightfully cruel move, the designers abandoned modern convention of autosaves and checkpoints, in favor of an old-school save-point system. You have to track one down… and then insert your key card… and then wait for a nerve-wracking countdown to complete – hoping, all the while, the alien doesn’t wander by.
For those of us of a certain age, the green monochrome screen brings back painful memories of screeching modems and MS-DOS. In Isolation, they serve a greater purpose: They offer background information, provide periodic clues, and occasionally activate elements in the environment. Note the clearly battered casing on these things, a minor detail that offers an extra bit of realism.
Ah, yes, the envy of every early-’80s grade-school student: the boom box. This one comes equipped with separate woofers and tweeters, what appears to be not one but two equalizers, and a logo for “Generic Electric.” In-game, you can flip one of these on to listen to some smooth tunes. But you probably don’t want to stick around; that alien has some very sharp ears.
Isolation features a collection of audio logs that offer background to the events preceding the abandonment of the Sevastopol, the space station that serves as the setting for most of the game. Those logs come recorded on some spectacularly old-school tech: not just a tape recorder, but a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
Random Computer Console
Computing in the far future requires one hell of a lot of random screens, apparently. These consoles are sprinkled throughout the game, and the vast majority of them don’t really do anything. Well, except look awesome.
Duo-tone screen? Check. Big honkin’ buttons? Check. Atari 2600 fonts? Oh yeah, baby! The Rewire System interface is a mastery of retro design. And this one actually serves a significant purpose: Periodically, Ripley uses these terminals to reroute power, in order to minimize threats, unlock pathways, or just turn the lights on.
Perhaps the most hilariously unlikely bit of technology in the entire game.
Alien: Isolation hits Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 7. Be afraid!