Though the game sold respectably, publisher Sega had clearly invested a huge amount of money in the license, and was anticipating sales far in advance of what the game achieved.
This is a shame, because on paper Alien: Isolation is everything an Alien game should be. The setting was incredibly authentic, the story felt like a proper sequel to the original Alien movie, and the major selling point - that you were being hunted by a single, AI-controlled, xenomorph - should've made for a terrifying experience.
Unfortunately, while it has its fans, I couldn't get on with the game. What should've been an atmospheric and tension-filled experience was just frustrating. The AI worked too well, and while it might've made the game more faithful to the impossible odds displayed in the movie, it made for an maddening gaming experience.
I spent most of the game crouched under desks or bunks, waiting for the inevitable discovery and death, before having to repeat sections again and again and again. Eventually, I threw in the towel; life is too short to spend it scrabbling around on the floor. If I wanted to do that, I'd become a lavatory rat.
SOMA - a much lower-budget offering - is what I'd wanted Isolation to be.
SOMA starts out in the most incongruous of settings: your character's apartment. Exploring your living space, you learn that you were recently in a car accident, and suffered some sort of brain injury. Your first puzzle is finding the tracer fluid that will enable you to have some sort of brain scan, and keep an important doctor's appointment.
It's a neat way of engaging the player, and gradually showing them the ropes: though played from a first-person perspective, it's more adventure game than anything. You can interact with more or less everything, opening drawers and doors, picking up objects, and either adding them to your inventory, or - as is more likely - lobbing them across the screen.
Inevitably, a lot of your time will be spent just doing this; having fun throwing chairs around, like your brain issues have affected you in ways the game designers hadn't intended. Ultimately, however, you end up on an abandoned underwater base that's part space station, part Rapture, being hunted by biomechanical monsters. How you got there is central to the game's story, and SOMA is all about unravelling that story, while embarking on a tense game of hide-and-seek.
It may not be as clever as Alien: Isolation, but its monster encounters are more scripted, more forgiving. And consequently, the whole experience is more enjoyable.
The real selling point of SOMA is its story and setting.
It touches on similar themes found in today's other reviewed game, The Talos Principle: what makes us who we are, and what is the nature of free will? What is reality?
In that respect, it shares more similarities with Bioshock, but through a more considered, atmospheric, and creepy, pace. Admittedly, the monsters are usually just an obstacle to navigate around, or distract - rather than a real threat - but they're just part of a satisfying whole.
After showing you how to actually play the game, the lack of handholding actually works in its favour, serves to keep you destabilised, never entirely sure of what you're meant to be doing, or if you're doing things in the right way. The less you know about the oppressive setting going in, the more you'll get out of it; the ending alone is almost worth the price of admission.
It's a short game, but it delivers value for money in that time; there's actually probably single-player gameplay on offer here than there is in Halo 5, and unlike that game none of it feels like padding. And all of it serves to tell its story better.
SUMMARY: A derivative setting, admittedly, but the creepy, story-driven mystery will drive you on.
SCORE: 20,000 leagues out of 23,000 leagues