While it is common for video games to have their plot edited or altered during development, Alien: Isolation is notable in that it still contains data relating to earlier iterations of the story, in the form of unused script files found within the Xbox 360 build, and references to cut maps and unused events within the standard build of the game. These reveal that the game's story was in fact altered quite substantially during development, reportedly largely around a year before the game's release. While key events are the same, the paths that lead to them are often quite different and the game seems as though it was originally to be significantly longer with some larger environments and more significant character development. Several characters also had notably different personalities and goals in earlier versions of the story.
Note that owing to the fact these unused files are merely script files, the events and locations of these sequences, as well as their timing within the overall story have merely been interpreted from dialogue and as such may not be entirely accurate. Furthermore, the missing script sections seem to be incomplete, and as such there are several gaps in the expanded story they represent. Some sections are however verified in legitimacy through concept art found online and references to cut maps within the game. A developer of the game noted that a lot of early scripts were unofficial and never seen by Fox.
Towards the end of this article game features are also covered as well as story elements, showing how elements such as the UI and gameplay changed during development to get to the final release build of the game. This information is sourced from leftover code in the game files as well as footage from pre-release events and gameplay of demos - mainly the E3 demo and pre-alpha demo nicknamed "Showlevel".
Original Game Opening
The original opening of Alien: Isolation covered the events leading up to the arrival of Amanda Ripley on Sevastopol Station. This section of the game featured stories from characters such as Dr. Kuhlman, Julia Jones, Hughes, Barker, Chief, Marshal Waits and more. Several significant events were to be shown during this sequence, including Kuhlman trying to break into San Cristobal Medical Facility to remove a Chestburster that had been implanted inside of him, Hughes attempting to talk to APOLLO to disable the communications lockdown and discovering that executive authorisation is now required, and Jackson witnessing the Xenomorph kill Harper.Little is known about how this section would have played out — it may simply have been a cutscene, although it seems possible that the player may have been able to control the characters during these short story elements. A map is referenced in the game files with the name "BSP_P01_TwoTeams", with "P01" seeming to indicate that this section would have been part one of the story, and "TwoTeams" referencing the ability to swap between characters within the map (as is the case in the bonus DLC map Crew Expendable). It is possible that this section was scrapped and the mechanic moved over to the Crew Expendable DLC due to its complexity and the fact the section was not particularly essential to the overall story.
- Main article: Solace
The game was originally to begin with the crew of the Torrens being woken from hypersleep early, before they reach Sevastopol, in response to an emergency SOS signal (mirroring the beginning of Alien). They quickly find that the signal is coming from a ship, the Solace, which is drifting lifeless in space. Ripley boards it to investigate, finding that it is full of the bodies of passengers who have all frozen to death since the life support systems failed. Further investigation reveals that the ship was hopelessly overcrowded and has no FTL drive, meaning the people on board were being forced to share the few hypersleep pods available by drawing up a rota; evidently they were desperate to flee from something. Deeper inside, Ripley finds blood, and several bodies "squashed into the hypersleep berths". Finally, she learns that the ship came from Sevastopol. The derelict vessel then begins to break up and Ripley is forced to flee, barely escaping back to the Torrens. During her frantic escape, Ripley sees evidence or glimpses of — but does not directly encounter — a Xenomorph, which presumably dies when the ship breaks apart. Now safely back aboard the Torrens, the crew was to continue to Sevastopol as in the finished game.The Solace is featured in several pieces of concept art created for the game. Further evidence of its existence remaining in the game include the Anesidora's map file, which is named "SOLACE", hinting that the interior layout of the Solace was re-purposed for the Anesidora. The Anesidora mission also ends with the ship breaking apart and exploding, possibly a reuse of effects created for the section of gameplay set aboard the Solace. Part of the script for the mission aboard the Solace was also found in the console version of Alien: Isolation, along with references to a "corridor decompression" animation sequence in the final build of the game for the Solace.
Dr. Kuhlman was originally intended to have a Chestburster growing inside of him. From reading the old scripts, it seems that Alien: Isolation started out with a cutscene that included a sequence showing Kuhlman commenting on his condition since being attacked by the Facehugger. After being thrown out of the San Cristobal Medical Facility, he vents his anger at Dr. Lingard and Dr. Morley, demanding to be let back in.Later in the game, Kuhlman is revealed to be using patients, or possibly other survivors on Sevastopol, as test subjects to try and work out how to remove the Chestburster from himself. Most notably, while trying to call survivors over to test on, he says, "I need... you there! What is it? A hurt friend? Need a fix? Perhaps we can help each other" which is quite similar to dialogue used when he first encounters Amanda in the final game.
A ship named the Patna (unrelated to the USCSS Patna from Alien3) was intended to appear in Alien: Isolation as a medical transport vessel, however it was cut from the final game. Concept art of the ship can be found within The Art of Alien: Isolation and references to the map file "BSP_Patna" can still be found in the final game. The ship was listed as containing basic infirmary, hypersleep and morgue facilities as well as featuring proportionally large engines, keeping the design in-line with Ron Cobb's original Alien aesthetic. At the centre of the Patna was an exposed coolant chamber which would allow for the contents to be frozen for transit.It is believed that the Patna was cut early in development and re-used to create the Solace, which later became the Anesidora.
Marlow and the Black Box
One of the biggest changes between the original game and the released version was the role of Marlow in the story. Whereas he is already in custody at the Colonial Marshal headquarters when Ripley first arrives there in the game, and is only ever encountered in two brief (but pivotal) moments, it was originally planned for the character to play a far more extensive role in the plot. Instead of being detained from the start, Marlow is actually in hiding somewhere on Sevastopol, and has the Nostromo black box with him — apparently, Ripley does not find it early on in the Lorenz SysTech Spire as in the final build. After the first Drone is jettisoned in the Gemini Exoplanet Solutions module, Marshal Waits sends Ripley after Marlow, and she discovers he is hiding in the Executive Suites in the Solomons Habitation Tower.Another interesting change revealed by the script involves the explosive traps for the Xenomorph that have been planted all over Sevastopol. Originally, it seems Marlow was the one responsible, not Waits and his men.
The Anesidora CrewRipley's pursuit of Marlow leads her back to the San Cristobal Medical Facility, where she must find a keycard that will allow her to access a private Seegson shuttle, the only way for her to reach the secure Executive Suites. While in the medical center, she discovers the bodies of Heyst and Meeks, two members of the Anesidora's crew, who died birthing Chestbursters. Multiple sound effects still exist in the game files for discovering the medical records of the Anesidora crew.
The Executive SuitesUpon arriving in the Executive Suites, Ripley tracks Marlow to the office of Seegson Executive Ransome, who, like Marlow, originally had a larger role in the game. She realizes that he was one of the victims aboard the Solace, and also learns of his attempts to manipulate the Xenomorph discovery to his professional advantage — his machinations in this regard are still featured in the game's audio logs. While Marlow has already moved on, Ripley discovers that he came to Ransome's office to steal the launch codes for the Anesidora. Thinking he is planning to flee, Waits orders her to get after him, telling her he will meet her there. While cut from the game, the Executive Suites and Ransome later formed the basis of the first DLC pack for the game, Corporate Lockdown. This was most likely a way for the developers to use maps that were late in development and would have been otherwise cut from the game and wasted effort. Multiple animations and sounds for this level, M15, are still referenced and sometimes present in the game files.
Samuels and Taylor
Samuels and Taylor seem to have been antagonistic characters in the earlier version of the story — both break out of the Marshal Bureau headquarters while Ripley is heading for the Anesidora, and it is apparently Taylor who kills Waits, not the rampaging Working Joes. Ricardo is also shot and wounded in the confrontation. Samuels and Taylor subsequently flee and contact Verlaine aboard the Torrens requesting extraction, Samuels lying that Ripley had been killed.
While it is assumed they are unsuccessful in their plans to abandon Ripley, their ultimate fates are not revealed in the missing script sections.
LV-426The two sections of gameplay on LV-426 in the game are referred to as maps "BSP_LV426_PT01" and "BSP_LV426_PT02" in the game's files. However, a third map named "BSP_LV426_PT03" is also referenced, indicating that there was originally a longer section of gameplay on the planetoid, presumably continuing after Catherine Foster was attacked by the Facehugger. A lot of concept artwork exists of the interiors of the Anesidora's bridge, so it is likely that Foster was brought on-board the ship in this section of the game.
In pursuit of Samuels and Taylor, Ripley encounters Seegson Security men who are raiding the civilian encampment in Sevastopol's mall, stealing their supplies and killing any who resist. While Seegson Security were essentially cut from the game, their corrupt dealings are the subject of several audio and text logs, and concept art of their operatives can be found in The Art of Alien: Isolation. References to their original guns (simply named "SMG") can still be found in the game along with models of the SMG magazines. The suits of the original Seegson Private Guards can be seen on display in the Marshal's office.In the cut scripts, Seegson Security are seen raiding civilian camps aboard Sevastopol and murdering the innocent. This is hinted at in the final game where Amanda walks past a security shutter with civilians and the Seegson Security behind it in mission 11, however the violent nature of the scenes in the original script are not seen in the final game, instead the Working Joes kill the Seegson Security and other survivors there.
Cooling Plant and Waste Management
Little is known about these sections of gameplay, although the relevant sectors of the station are labelled on a map of Sevastopol that was drawn early in development (shown in next section - "Working with Marlow"), when the game was known as Alien Year Zero, indicating that the player was intended to visit them at some point. The game's files also refer to maps named "ENG_WasteChute", "ENG_WasteManagement" and "ENG_CoolingPlant". Although the reasons behind the removal of these maps is not known, it is possible that they were simply too complicated, or perhaps the segments would not have fit into the final story. Since these locations are labelled on the map of Sevastopol, referenced in the final game's map list and also shown to be pretty complete in modelling screenshots, we can assume that these sections made it quite far into development even though very little is known about them.
Working with Marlow
Marlow is eventually caught and locked up in the Marshal headquarters (much like the finished game). However, it seems that he previously told Ripley about his plan to destroy Sevastopol — and the Xenomorphs — by blowing up the Anesidora. In one of the most crucial differences between the early story and the finished game, Ripley actually agrees with Marlow and helps him carry out this plan, realizing that the Xenomorphs need to be destroyed no matter what, knowing that it is likely only days or perhaps even hours before they have taken or killed every person on Sevastopol, at which point there will be no one left to warn any rescue teams that may come to investigate the station's silence. To this end, she cuts Marlow out of his cell and the two set off together, the player and Marlow working as a team. Their plan is to reach the Anesidora and activate the ship's self destruct system, then get to the Torrens and escape before detonation, taking with them as many survivors as they can (including Ricardo, whom Ripley promises to return for).
Dialogue from Marlow in this section also implies he originally learned more about what happened to the Nostromo from the black box, including the fact that the ship was deliberately sent to LV-426 by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and that Ellen Ripley is still alive, adrift in space somewhere.
The Anesidora and Dry Docks
Ripley and Marlow reach the Anesidora but find that Ransome had previously ordered the Working Joes to completely strip the vessel for clues regarding the Xenomorph, and as a result the self destruct device has been removed. Instead, Marlow decides to try and overload the engines manually. However, the process goes wrong, Marlow is killed and the Anesidora does not destroy Sevastopol.Looking in the game files, you can find references to maps such as "ENG_DryDock" and "ENG_DryDockCargo", which seem to tie in with the original script as being the area where the Anesidora is being held and stripped on the orders of Ransome. This could hint that the section of gameplay stayed quite late into development as well as other maps from this storyline also being referenced in the final game, however the map's completion before being removed is unknown. In other concept art, we can see a Seegson logo with the subtitle "Corporate Docks" which could perhaps be referring to this section. The window from the cut Dry Docks map is seemingly reused in the Tow Platform map, in the area where Amanda goes to extend the maintenance rig. The model is titled "DRYDOCK_CTRLROOM_WINDOW_B" with a filler model also titled in a similar way. An ambient sound file can also be found in the game titled "AMB_Docks_Cargo", presumably for the ENG_DryDockCargo map.
The Gravity Anchors
In a last attempt to wipe out the Xenomorphs, Ripley goes to deactivate Sevastopol's gravity anchors, hoping to drop the station into KG-348's atmosphere and destroy it. While this happens in the final game, it involves no input from Ripley, and the anchors are simply destroyed when the Anesidora explodes. On her way into the bowels of the station where the anchors are found, Ripley encounters the Hive for a second time, discovering that it is now considerably larger than when she previously found it. After reaching the anchors, Ripley succeeds in sabotaging them and seals Sevastopol's fate.There is a large amount of concept art showing the Gravity Anchors of Sevastopol and The Art of Alien: Isolation details some more information about them. Additionally, within the game files a reference can be found to a map directory (removed in the final build of the game) for "ENG_Gravity_Anchor". The game classifies each section of Sevastopol with a different prefix, the Gravity Anchors receiving the "ENG" prefix for Engineering as they were located at the bottom of Sevastopol. Due to the map being referenced within the final build of the game along and all the concept art available online, we can presume that this section of the game made it quite far into development. A number of sound files can also be found in the game for this mission/map.
Amanda's True Nature
In the initial pitch of Alien: Isolation (when it was then known as Alien Year Zero), Amanda Ripley was actually an android. This fact would not be revealed to the player until the end of the game. The developers originally planned to make her a synthetic out of concern that the player would not believe Amanda would go searching for her mother in deep space; her being an android programmed to do so would provide solid motive. However, as development progressed and Amanda became a more prominent character, the developers felt that it would be inappropriate to keep the android twist in the story. The idea was cut and the game's plot was then re-written, supposedly around a year prior to release.Initially, Amanda had a Sonic the Hedgehog logo sewn into her bag, however this was also cut from the release. It can still be seen in the bag_details texture (shown to the right).
Cut Game FeaturesA feature that was cut from the final game known as "Memento Mori" would have allowed players to pick up items from where they had died when they respawned. The feature was able to be turned on and off and although cut from the game, the model of the Memento Mori bag that the player would pick up along with the code for the settings to disable it can all still be found in the final game's files.Another feature cut was "New Game+". New game plus would have likely unlocked additional difficulties for a second playthrough, however very little is known about specifics. If new game plus simply unlocked Novice and Nightmare difficulty, this is potentially why it was scrapped as Novice and Nightmare were added in a post-launch game update, able to be selected on the first play through.
In the UI files for the main menu there are scripts for additional content on the "Extras" tab other than just the credits like in the final game, including "Image Gallery", "Dev Diaries" and "Achievements and Progress". Selecting "Dev Diaries" would allow you to view three sections named "Making of Alien: Isolation", "Deleted Scenes" and "CG Trailer". The original main menu used for the pre-alpha demos also included a splash-screen for CATHODE, the custom engine that the game runs on.
The game has slots for a large and small medkit in the player's inventory, however the large medkit was cut from the game in favour of the small medkit. The large medkit would have restored all of the player's health when used. Four other cut craftable items referenced in the game files are known as "wide_area_chem_light", "explosive_mine", "incendiary_mine" and "chem_light". The inventory also references a mission specific item called the "Oscillator". Oscillators are used to create electronic signals which can be output as sound - therefore it is possible that the "Oscillator" was an early version of the noisemaker.
Another cut feature of the game was more variety in the arcade machines seen in Mission Two when Amanda enters Sevastopol and goes to the Cred-Op Amusements to restore power. Theme songs can be found for three unused arcade games titled "Dinky King", "Power Up" and "Super Mooria". Additionally, a theme song and a large number of in-game sound effects can be found for another arcade game called "Dragon Gauntlet" which seems like it may have been interactive and allowed the player to control it. The sound files seem to indicate it was a fighting game, similar to Street Fighter. The name "Dragon Gauntlet" is presumed to be based on an item available in Runescape which allows improved melee ability.
Initially, the user was able to zoom the flashlight in and out, however this feature was removed from the game in favour of an average sized fixed beam. This could have been in an attempt to simplify the control scheme.
A Playable Xenomorph
Multiple references can be found in the game files to a point in development where Alien Isolation was a two player experience, with one player controlling Amanda and another controlling the Xenomorph.
In the final PC build of the game, these are only very vague hints through occasional mentions of player numbers and multiplayer, however digging deeper into leftover debug settings reveals that the programmer could originally opt-in to manually control other humans, Working Joes and the Xenomorph. This is further expanded upon in files found within the console build of the game, where two files can be found named "ALIEN_PLAYER" and "ALIEN_TEST" which are not present in the PC release. These behaviour settings specify a second player having the ability to control the Xenomorph, with the first player controlling Amanda. The Xenomorph had 1,500 health points compared to Amanda's 1,000 health points along with the ability to peek around corners like Amanda, but with a vastly reduced range - only being able to move 45% of Amanda's horizontal peeking and 25% of Amanda's vertical peeking.
It is not known if this feature was ever intended to make it into the final game, or if it was simply just a way for the developers to test gameplay before the AI was fully finished. It is possible that this method of controlling enemies through the debug options, or having a second player controlling the Xenomorph was only intended for use in promotional material so that the team didn't have to rely on the AI to perform the actions they needed it to.
In pre-release screenshots (and potentially also some game demos) of Alien: Isolation, the Sevastolink terminals (manufactured by Karnak) have a different design to the ones seen in the final game. They feature an alternate keyboard design and seem to have a differently styled user interface. This interface seems to be black and white, whereas the interface in the final game is based on shades of green and white. The original terminal design can be seen in the KG-348 Research Labs where there is a prop computer that the player cannot interact with that uses the original model. Notably, this computer doesn't hold the Karnak logo like the final Sevastolink terminal design does.
Similarly to how the Sevastolink terminals were designed differently in pre-release material, the Working Joes seem to have originally been styled differently to how they appear in the final game. In the Alien: Isolation Pre-Alpha Demo (nicknamed "Showlevel"), the Working Joes seen dead in the KG-348 Research Labs take on a more human facial design compared to the more simplified design of the final characters. It is possible that this design seen in the pre-alpha demo is a variant of some early concept art for the Working Joe, seen in this image where designs with a more human appearance and hairstyles are experemented with.
A number of changes were made to the game's UI close to release, specifically the motion tracker interface, HUD and "hub" menu.
The original design of the motion tracker UI was similar to what is seen in the final game, however it was lighter and didn't fade towards the edges of the screen. More film grain was applied and the tracking dot was slightly different to the final game, with the pre-release dot being solid white and seemingly updating more frequently than the final game's dot with blurred edges. According to a developer, these changes were made to the motion tracker due to performance drops with the original design.
A number of large changes also came to the in-game UI including the "hub" screen where the player can view the map, audio logs and more. In the pre-release demo this "hub" screen was a blue tone with a more mechanical "blueprint" feel, whereas in the final game this screen is a lot darker and more of a flat design with a semi-transparent background. An additional tab can be seen in the pre-release "hub" screen which is supposedly for an inventory menu which can be seen in the release game files, although is not accessible in the game. Notably, in the screenshot of the original map design in the "hub" (to the right), the "KG-348 Research Labs" are named "Prophesys Research Labs".
The original HUD was also changed late in development, switching the rounded HUD bar seen in pre-release demos to blocks of information as seen in the final game. Interaction prompts were also changed from red to green, and objective popups were changed to match the style of the new "hub" style.
- Multiple main menu scores were created for the game with different tones. A rejected score was similar to that of the soundtrack used in the survivor mode DLC packs.
- The game is based upon a highly modified version of the engine used for 2008's Viking: Battle for Asgard, known as CATHODE.
- The in-development title for Alien: Isolation was Alien Year Zero.
- Cut scene script files on Steam
- Alien: Isolation maps — A list of used and known unused maps in Alien: Isolation.
- Alien: Isolation missions — A list of the used and known unused missions in Alien: Isolation's campaign.
- ↑ "Steam Community - Alien: Isolation - The Original Story!". Retrieved on 2016-01-08.