Ridley Scott's Alien is a slimy nightmare on legs. The question is, would you manage to escape with your life if you bumped into it in a dark hallway? Wonder no more: Alien: Isolation is here to test your survival skills against a Xenomorph in the shadows. If you'd rather not be ET lunch, pay attention for a few essential tips.
What's that you say? You've been sleeping with a flamethrower under your pillow since the first time you saw Alien and have spent the last twenty-odd years planning every possible escape from a potential showdown with the beastie? Throw your brilliant strategies in the comments, smarty. For everyone else, here's a cheat sheet on how not to see your innards turned to outards as you give birth to your very own darling little hatchling.
In a head-on slug match against a ticked-off Alien, your first move is to buy yourself some time while you hatch a plan. Okay, poor choice of words, but if you're going to have any hope of escaping whatever horror-trap you've found yourself ensnared in, it helps if you already know all the nooks and crannies you can duck into to stay alive. Lockers, bunkers, sewage tankers, and even garbage chutes can be semi-safe hidey-holes to utilize in a pinch.
Look, just stay the hell out of sight. You'll have plenty of time for a shower when you're safe at home.
Anyone who's watched Alien knows the gut-wrenching suspense that a motion tracker can throw into the mix, but suck it up: it's an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to survive a close encounter of the Xenomorphic kind. Having a rough idea of exactly where impending doom lurks is a great way of avoiding it, so finding one of these things is a must.
Don't have any gadgetry on hand? Well, you could always try to trick your parasitic stalker into donning a kitty collar with a bell. Cute, yes, but let's face it, also impractical. Repeat: find that motion tracker.
Yay, you've got a loaded rocket launcher stashed in your hope chest and you know how to use it? You're good to go!
But let's say you don't have access to any heavy-duty artillery. Scavenging makeshift weaponry with which to successfully defend yourself is essential, if tricky. Forget jailhouse shivs: close-range stabby-stabby and pew-pew of any kind is highly discouraged unless you're looking to get a highly corrosive acid bath in return. Fire, on the other hand, is your best friend. The good news is that explosives can be surprisingly easy to cobble together, and they're the most effective tools for holding a rampaging Alien at bay while you hightail it to safety.
Be creative! Is the Alien pursuing you backstage at the Little Miss Houston pageant? Grab a bottle of AquaNet and a lighter. Are you in a frat house littered with the corpses of last night's beer pong champions? Round up any leftover high-test booze that's kicking around, take a swig or three for good luck, and make yourself a few Molotov cocktails. Burn, baby, burn.
Sure, your slithery foe is resourceful when it comes to finding alternate routes to get to you, but anything you can do to slow it down is worth trying. Sealing off corridors, rooms, and entire regions in your vicinity is a smart tactic. If you can find a clever way to isolate and trap the thing in the process, all the better. Oh, and if you happen to be a student at a school for superheroes and have a high-tech training facility on the premises, use those built-in booby traps to your advantage.
While you're doing all this, don't forget about alien-sized ventilation ducts and other sneaky points of entry. The nasty bugger loves popping out to say surprise when you least expect it. Watch your back.
Every Xenomorph has a keen sense of hearing, which is one of the main tools it will use to pinpoint your location before zipping in for a quick bite to eat. Avoid becoming a tasty snack by cutting down on the clatter. Be a space ninja. Ditch the clunky boots for bare feet if you have to, and avoid carrying any equipment that will make a racket. (You'll move faster anyway.)
Meanwhile, try to find devices that do emit sound and use them to trick and disorient your adversary. Noisemakers that can be triggered remotely are be super useful for setting traps and creating distractions.
Darkness is not your friend. If you can't see your hand in front of your face, then you most certainly won't be able to see the big, black, fanged thing creeping up behind you for the kill — and you better believe it can see in the dark. Get your hands on some flares, a string of Christmas lights, your smartphone flashlight app, a few glowsticks left over from that rave... whatever. If it makes light, you want it. Bonus points if your light source can also double as a weapon.
Slumber is not a luxury you can afford when you're being stalked by a sentient death machine. On the other hand, your body will eventually shut down if you don't give yourself time to eat and sleep, even in your terrified, adrenaline-churning state. The best solution is to move quickly and execute your brilliant master plan before you succumb to exhaustion. Otherwise, here's hoping your emergency go-bag is fully stocked with coffee, diet pills, and toothpicks with which to prop your eyelids open. Remember, no matter how comfy and pillow-like that radiator starts to look, it's not worth the risk.
Sadly, that's one reminder I don't need at the moment, because after field testing these tricks in Alien: Isolation, it will be a good week before I'll feel safe sleeping again. What about you? Are your dreams haunted by visions of the Xenomorph? Have you spent your life readying your battle plan? If so, be of service to your fellow humans by sharing your survival advice in the comments below. Good luck!
Nathan Meunier is a journalist and freelance writer who covers video games, technology, and geek culture. He's also the author of Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism, which is out now on Kindle and in print.