Tag Archives: aliens

Alien Is Getting a Tabletop Roleplaying Game

Someone’s creeping around the corner…
Image: Free League Publishing

At the gaming table, no one can hear you scream. io9 can exclusively reveal that Tales From the Loop creator Free League Publishing has teamed up with 20th Century Fox to create an original tabletop roleplaying game series set in the world of Alien. And it’s coming out this year.

Free League is currently developing its latest tabletop RPG, Alien: The Roleplaying Game, which will be an original story set within the Alien universe. It features an open-world campaign mode, a series of pre-generated “Cinematic” storylines, and gorgeous artwork by folks like Martin Grip, John Mullaney and Axel Torvenius. You can watch the announcement trailer below.

Alien: The Roleplaying Game is is the first tabletop RPG for the Alien franchise since Aliens Adventure Game came out in 1989. While that game was specifically based on the plot of Aliens, the 1986 sequel to the iconic original film, Alien: The Roleplaying Game is more open-ended, taking place in the Alien universe with original characters and brand-new stories. That means we won’t be seeing in-game cameos from movie characters like Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)—unless Game Masters choose to add them—but their actions play an important part in the story and world.

In an interview with io9, game director and Free League co-founder Tomas Härenstam shared that the world of Alien: The Roleplaying Game takes place shortly after the events of Alien 3,—which means Alien: Resurrection won’t technically factor in, as it takes place further in the future. Härenstam explained why they chose to set it during that time, how it affects the game’s world, and what it means for the prequels.

“We’re focusing more on certain aspects of the universe than others. I think the key thing there is we’ve set our game in the year 2183, that’s a very conscious choice,” he said. “The more recent prequel movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, those are part of the canon, part of the story and universe. But as they take place in a much earlier era, that era is not where our focus lies.”

Uh, you’re going the wrong way space people.
Image: Free League Publishing

Even though Alien is a hardcore and intense sci-fi experience, with decades of lore and expanded content, the roleplaying game is designed to appeal to both experts and newcomers. For people well-versed in RPGs, there’s a traditional campaign, where players can take on the role of blue-collar workers, marines, explorers, even androids, venturing into the Outer Rim and encountering lots of face-hugging aliens. For others who may be trying roleplaying for the first time, there’s the “Cinematic” experience, a series of pre-generated storylines that can be played in a single sitting. The first one is called Chariot of the Gods, written by sci-fi author Andrew E.C. Gaska (Death of the Planet of the Apes). Härenstam compared it to the pre-made stories made for Tales From The Loop.

“We wanted to make [Alien] an approachable game. Our most successful game to-date is Tales From The Loop. Of course it’s very different from this game, but there are some similarities to how we approach it,” Härenstam said. “In [Cinematic] mode, you play scenarios with pre-generated characters and sort of a core arc. They emulate the dramatic structure of an Alien film. It’s sort of built for one-shots and shorter play.”

The RPG only comes with Chariot of the Gods, but there are plans to release more pre-generated storylines in the future. They’re designed to be interconnected, like direct sequels of each other, meaning a group of players can continue their personalized storylines and characters. But, as Härenstam put it, not everyone is going to get that option, as the Cinematic stories can be brutal or even deadly.

“The [stories] can be tied together. Maybe not the same characters, because they might not survive, but they can continue the story and thread it all together,” he said.

“Might not survive” is right.
Image: Free League Publishing

When asked why Free League decided to take on a violent and intense series like Alien—especially coming after Tales From The Loop and the Things From The Flood expansion, which centered around kids—Härenstam said it’s because the team as a whole is really into hard sci-fi and has been yearning to take on a project like this. In fact, he said the team has been searching for a licensing partnership for a long time, and Alien was continually the preferred choice.

Härenstam also cited his personal fandom of the franchise, something that started when he saw the first movie when he was “probably far too young.”

It has sort of the darkness to it. Obviously, that was something I was drawn to. And the mystery, [which is] especially strong in the first movie. There are so many things that are not explained. That sense of horror and awe, but also that sense of wonder of what’s actually out there.

I also really like the blue collar aspect of it. The protagonists of the movie, they’re not super people in any way. They’re workers, hard workers in outer space. That idea of a vision of the future where everything is not bright and shiny, but there is an everyday type of feel, even in outer space. That was something I had not seen before.

Free League’s announcement comes on the heels of Disney’s purchase of Fox, which has opened the door for more films or shows in that universe. Alien: The Roleplaying Game is set to come out by the end of the year. Härenstam confirmed that there won’t be a Kickstarter campaign for this game, but it will be available for pre-order before it’s released.

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Source: Kotaku.com

Alien: Blackout Is A Great Concept But Falls Flat

Alien: Blackout sounds great on paper. Take the grimy world of the films and boil the terror experience into a tense management game during which you direct survivors, lock doors, and watch for the alien on your motion tracker. Mixing real-time strategy and survival is a smart concept, but Alien: Blackout is a bit too clumsy in execution to pull it all together.

Alien: Blackout stars Amanda Ripley, the protagonist of 2014’s dynamite horror game Alien: Isolation. Once again, she’s the sole survivor on a derelict space station. Ripley has evaded the iconic xenomorph and lasted long enough for an investigation team to arrive. From her hiding spot in the vent, Ripley guides the team around and helps them survive while the alien tries to hunt them down. This involves switching between camera views and a map, all while locking doors and powering motion sensors. The easy comparison is Five Nights at Freddy’s, but gameplay here is much closer the 2013 stealth game Republique, in which players guided a young woman through levels while observing her through CCTV cameras.

Each level in Alien: Blackout has a goal, be it finding a keycard or a spare part for the investigation team’s shuttle. You control a set amount of survivors and can draw routes for them to follow on a map. As they travel through their planned paths, your job is to scour camera feeds and the map to keep track of the alien and find ways to prevent it from reaching the team. Often this means locking security doors. Levels only have a certain number of devices that can be powered up at one time, so you need to carefully determine and adjust which doors and sensors are powered if you want to keep the team safe. If you’re really unlucky, the alien can even scurry into the vents to attack you in your hiding spot.

Juggling perspectives, issuing orders, and making sure you keep yourself safe should make for a tense experience, but it never really works out. It can be hard to select teammates and draw routes on your phone’s screen, and it’s far too easy to lose track of the alien. As a result, Alien: Blackout can often feel like luck. All you need to do in each level is complete the objective and have one team member escape, but because the alien is hard to predict and difficult to track on your map screen, sudden deaths are common. These are shocking at first, but over time, they start to feel too much like they are out of your control, which then makes them harder to care about.

Alien: Blackout’s mix of survival horror and team management wants you to consider tense scenarios, like sending off one character as bait so another can survive, but it never makes those moments as exciting as they could be. Instead of carrying on with losses, I found myself tempted to restart levels and brute force my way to achieving perfect playthroughs. Those successes should be satisfying, but they often feel more like lucky miracles. Maybe that’s the point, but I’d rather feel satisfied with my skill than lucky.

Still, I commend Alien: Blackout for its experimentation with what an Alien game can be. In the thick of things, managing the team and keeping them safe can be engaging. But achieving successes in the game feels too random and too finicky to hold my attention. Alien: Blackout does nail the look and feel of the franchise, but it stumbles as a game. 

Source: Kotaku.com