Cathode Engine
General information
Developer The Creative Assembly
Release date(s)
Production information
Platform(s) Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

CATHODE is an engine built by The Creative Assembly for the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation. It is a highly modified version of the engine created by The Creative Assembly for an earlier title, Viking: Battle for Asgard. The trademark for the engine name was filed by SEGA on the 26th August 2013, and eventually granted on the 20th February 2014.

Deferred Rendering

The engine was built to use a process known as deferred rendering which allows the developers to use a large number of lights in an environment along with advanced geometry and maintain a constantly good framerate. This meant that the game was able to re-create the Alien look without being too taxing on the system it runs on.

Early Versions

The CATHODE engine is a highly modified version of an engine created by The Creative Assembly for a previous title, Viking: Battle for Asgard. This engine was likely chosen as a base for CATHODE over their Total War engine due to the third person perspective of Viking and the large open environments it could render. The giveaway that Viking: Battle for Asgard's engine is the base of Alien: Isolation's CATHODE engine can be found in Isolation's console build, where many Viking config files are left over - such as UI scripts, weapon scripts and attack data.


  • The mod tools created to open Alien: Isolation's PAK files also work with Viking: Battle for Asgard due to CATHODE being a newer version of that engine.
  • The deferred rendering that was added to Viking's engine for Isolation was first previewed at the 2012 "Develop Conference".
  • The original main menu for Alien: Isolation (for pre-release demos) included a boot logo for CATHODE, but this was cut from the retail version of the game.
Ai gbuffer

TOP LEFT: Albedo, TOP RIGHT: Normal mapping, LOWER LEFT: Shininess, LOWER RIGHT: Fully-lit scene!

Further Information

Further information about the engine can be found at the following links: