We dive into the twisted inner-workings of Alien: Blackout’s horror with the project’s lead writer JD Sorvari on how to craft a horror game where any character can die.
JD Sorvari: It was a fruitful collision of ideas between developer, publisher and IP holder. Each one had been considering different parts of the equation, which then came together in what is now Alien: Blackout.
JD: As the lead writer, I wrote more or less everything for the game, from the background and plot to the characters and dialogue. Of course I had some help from the other narratively inclined members of Rival Games and Theory Interactive as well. Also, I was involved in creating the original pitch and was a part of that whole process.
JD: We got a great boost from our combination of music and audio effects, which I feel really drive home the atmosphere. The fact that you know the Alien is always present, but you can’t see it, is nerve-wracking and creates general tension the entire time. The constant management of multiple crew members and also not being able to see where they are at through a camera at all times is really unsettling. Also blips… you come to know the sound of them and when you hear one, your heart jumps and you know you have to scramble to avoid the Xenomorph!
Can you survive? Alien: Blackout is a single-player game that will test your survival skills and see just how well you would fare against your own Xenomorph …
JD: From a story point of view, it just took a bit of preliminary planning. All the dialogue was written so that different people could interject at different points, depending on who was still breathing, and separate dialogue was written for “last crew member standing” situations. None of the characters were created as “expendable”, as I wanted the players to be able to pick their own favorites from the crew. The real balancing work had to be done in level design though.
JD: She carries on the same spirit that Ellen Ripley has. She can be strong, but she doesn’t have to resort to traditionally macho posturing to do it. She can also be vulnerable, and she displays a humanity that is sometimes neglected especially in video game characters.
JD: I just love how right it feels. I’ve been a fan of Alien for decades, and just looking at the level map with the dots moving around gives me chills and makes me smile at the same time.
Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming review of Alien: Blackout.