Almost two years after it was released, Alien: Isolation still has secrets left to spill. Web developer and modder Matt Filer—whose work we’ve featured on PC Gamer (opens in new tab)—has discovered a huge amount of unused dialogue hidden in the game’s files. You can download the whole script (opens in new tab). It’s a long read, and not strictly canon, but reveals a lot of extra information about Sevastopol, Ripley, and a number of supporting characters.
It’s also a fascinating insight into how the game was written, and how the story changed over the course of its development. But the most intriguing revelation is an elaborate, lengthy introduction sequence that was ultimately cut from the game. These disconnected audio logs and subtitle files only tell part of the story, but fill in the blanks and you get an idea of what these sections would’ve been like had they made the final cut.
There are audio logs and subtitles from a sequence seemingly set on Sevastopol before Ripley’s arrival. It’s clear the alien is loose at this point, and they describe the turmoil on the station as people try to evacuate.
A journalist, (opens in new tab), is on Sevastopol to write about the station.
“I viewed the people here as nothing more than footnotes for my article; something to tug at the heartstrings against the dry facts of Sevastopol’s economic failure.”
She then mentions a ship, the Solace, which we’ll hear more about later.
“We’ve just witnessed the Solace leaving Sevastopol. Everyone is rushing to the terminal; if there was one ship there may be another!” I can see the Marshals now. They’re trying to calm everything, but are being pelted by projectiles The atmosphere is… no, no, they’re turning people back! (Loses composure and journalistic tone to desperation) ...hey! Let us go!”
Then, suddenly, there are gunshots. Someone barges into Jones and she drops her recorder. People seem desperate to leave the station (for obvious reasons), and the departure of the Solace triggers a riot.
Another chain of events involves a character known only as ‘EIS’. Characters in the game have an unseen 'code' name (Verlaine is VAR, for example), but other than that, no one knows what this guy's name was.
“Marie, listen to me very carefully. I want you to leave work now, collect Claire, head home and pack a bag of essentials. I’ve found a way off Sevastopol. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t tell them where you’re going. Just meet me at the spaceflight terminal as soon as you can.”
Later he describes locking his family in a room somewhere to protect them, and we see another mention of the Solace.
“I only locked them in to keep them safe, but then we lost power. They must have woken up in the darkness. Sealed in… huh? No… no, please, no! They’ve started screaming again. Can you hear? [the recording shows that there are no screams, just the groans of the Solace] Stop! Stop!”
It seems the mysterious EIS was one of the people who escaped aboard the Solace, but the ship has become overcrowded. People are fighting over hypersleep berths.
“We drew up a hypersleep rota to save resources. Then we find that son-of-a-bitch jumping the queue, busting open one of the berths. We tried to stop him, but he attacked the captain. I panicked, grabbed a scalpel and… [beat] My wife and daughter are in there. Can’t trust anyone, so I’m going to lock Medical. Keep them safe. Shouldn’t have left Sevastopol.”
Tools of the trade
There are some snippets that suggest this section was, at least at one point, intended to be playable. It seems whoever you played as would, like Ripley does later, get their hands on a hack tool and tracker.
One is from (opens in new tab), a character heard in audio logs in the main game, and the playable character of the Safe Haven DLC.
“If anyone finds this I’ve adapted a tracker to spot larger targets; they’re used to find rats so you should be able to sniff me out inside.”
And the other is from (opens in new tab), a Colonial Marshals deputy who Ripley ends up working with in the final game.
“I’ve put together a hacking device and left it in the usual place. You should find this message on one of your patrols. It still needs a little work, but hopefully one of you should get it fixed.”
There’s also a scene where a pair of unidentified NPCs torment a Working Joe android, much to the annoyance of another character.
NPC: “Guys, can you stop tormenting the ‘Joe’?"
NPC: “Sure we can. Hey, you getting this on tape?”
NPC: “Yeah, do it.”
NPC: “Guys! Knock it off!”
The bad guys
The files also reveal more about the characters who, inevitably, want to try and capture/study the alien. Because that always works out so well in these stories, doesn't it?
A doctor called (opens in new tab), who’s the playable character in the Trauma DLC, seems to be fascinated by the discovery of the facehugger attached to (opens in new tab).
The life-form is incredibly valuable, a career maker; the research paper alone could set me up for life. But it could also be killing its hosts and I don’t know how to remove it.”
In the final game we discover Lingard was under pressure from a Seegson corporate stooge called (opens in new tab), who wanted in on her ‘interesting find.’ If these files are anything to go by, Ransome initially had a much larger role in the story. In one conversation he instructs Sevastopol’s central AI, Apollo, to protect the ‘data’ at all costs—presumably meaning the alien. Ransome is the equivalent of Aliens’ similarly slimy Carter Burke, it seems.
RANSOME: “Apollo, from this point in time Seegson executive presence on board Sevastopol will be limited. I am leaving the station. The data you’re recording, and decoding, is vital to the future of the company—it needs protection until I return. Maintain Seegson confidentiality at all costs station-wide. Use the Working Joes. Isolate the incident. Watch everything. Record everything. Protect everything. Corporate interests must be protected at all times. Do you understand?”
RANSOME: “Then: initiate. And get me launch codes for the Solace.”
Yep, that’s the ship Julia Jones saw departing before the riot, and the one EIS and his family escaped on. Ransome seems to have launched it, as well as removing the safety protocols on the station’s Working Joes. That explains why they’re so aggressive when Ripley encounters them.
APOLLO: “Apollo core maintenance mode: now active. Current Sevastopol status: Alerted. Synthetic safety parameters: Disengaged.”
And then we’re back to Ripley, who wakes up aboard the (opens in new tab)as she does in the final game—but with a bit of a difference. She wakes up alone in the hypersleep chamber in the game, but here (opens in new tab)(the Torrens’ owner and captain) is waiting for her and gives her a medical check.
VERLAINE: “Hey, looking a little shaky there. Thought you were used to space travel?”
RIPLEY: “I was. I am. Guess I stood up too fast.”
VERLAINE: “It happens to the best of us. Let me check you over.”
RIPLEY: “You said something had come up?”
VERLAINE: “Follow the torch, please.”
Then commences a classic first-person game camera calibration test, to determine whether you use normal or inverted controls. She asks “No problems with your vision?” and then offers you a choice between the two camera modes. None of this made it into the final game.
RIPLEY: “Ugh, feels like something crawled inside me.”
VERLAINE: “You just need to walk it off. Come to the canteen when you recover. Just follow the signs.”
There’s also some unused text that would have appeared on the screen, perhaps over an establishing shot of the Torrens, reminiscent of the introduction to the Nostromo in the film. Note that Nina Taylor's first initial is E here rather than N. Last minute name change?
Official Number: MSV-7760
Name: USCSS Torrens
Captain: VERLAINE, Diane
Navigator/Comm Officer: (opens in new tab)Owner: VERLAINE, Diane
Passengers: C.Samuels (opens in new tab), A.Ripley (opens in new tab), E.Taylor (opens in new tab)
Number of Decks: two
Number of Crew: two
Interstellar communications antenna
Long haul hypersleep chamber
Commercial passenger/cargo ship retrofitted from a tow rig
Heavy duty tow array still present
But Ripley isn’t going to Sevastopol yet. The crew of the Torrens are awoken from hypersleep before they reach the station by a distress beacon—just like the crew of the Nostromo. The beacon is from the Solace, which Ripley boards to investigate.
RIPLEY: “Verlaine, do you read me? I’m inside the Solace. Gravity’s out, no lights, no power.”
VERLAINE: "Do you think you can restore systems?"
RIPLEY: "Hard to say, I need to see the engine room."
Your first objective is to restore power to the Solace. Ripley notices that someone has broken the door to Medical, which we know EIS did to protect his family. And as she explores she finds a log.
"Wright, 20.10.2137. Task: Engine's been complaining all day, and it's making everyone nervous. I warned them we were pushing her too hard. My turn in the freezer soon. If anyone needs to make another issue sweep while I'm knocked out, door keycode is 4510."
This is almost certainly a reference to (opens in new tab). Ripley discovers the ship has no FTL drive. She restores power and gravity and notes that the ship wasn’t designed for deep space travel. And then she finds the crew.
RIPLEY: “Oh no. My god. Verlaine? Verlaine? I’ve found some of the crew. They’re dead. Frozen. It — uh, it wasn’t quick.”
VERLAINE: “Okay, Ripley. Come back to the Torrens. If something happens before I get you to Sevastopol, Weyland-Yutani will want blood.”
RIPLEY: “Bodies. Squashed into the hypersleep berths. Oh god. The Solace came from Sevastopol. These people died trying to get away.”
Then we find another audio log by EIS, who seems to be showing signs of mental decline, hearing screams that aren’t there.
"I hear screaming, but I rewind and there's just the hiss of the tape. I don't know when the others stopped answering; I've lost all track of time in the darkness. Has it been days? Or just hours? Even my voice sounds too loud, harsh and grating against the silence. But if I can record it and play it back I know this is happening. Listen, the screams have started again... [the recording shows that there are no screams, just the groans of the Solace]."
Ripley uses a tool (probably the plasma cutter) to break into Medical and discovers more frozen bodies. She seems to see something and exclaim, but brushes it off when Verlaine asks her what it was. Could this have been a first glimpse of the alien? Or just a red herring? Ripley sees a blood trail and follows it. Verlaine protests. She finds yet another log by EIS.
"We created a hypersleep roster; didn't know how long it would be before we reached safety and there weren't enough spaces for all of us. One of us thought he was more deserving than others and kicked up a fuss. Couple of days later I find the son-of-a-bitch, crowbar in hand, trying to prise open one of the berths. He attacked me with the crowbar and I grabbed a wrench in self-defence. I swung it and... (beat) My wife and daughter were in there. Can't trust anyone now, so I'm going to lock the door to medical. Keep them safe. I'm going to try and repair the broken hypersleep berths. "
Either this is a writing error (remember, this isn't a finished script), or EIS has killed two people for allegedly breaking into his family’s hypersleep berths: one with a scalpel, then another with a crowbar. It seems likely that he’s imagined the whole thing, and may have killed two innocent people (or no one at all?). The non-existent ‘screaming’ seems to back this theory up.
The Solace begins to break apart and Ripley makes her escape.
VERLAINE: “Emergency. Ship stability critical. Evacuate immediately.”
RIPLEY: “What the fuck was that?”
I'm not sure what she's referring to here. It could be the sound of the ship being destroyed, but I wonder if she catches another glimpse of whatever made her jump earlier. Did an alien end up on the Solace?
VERLAINE: “Get out — now! The ship’s coming apart!”
‘Coughs and generic exertions/exclamations needed here’
SAMUELS: “I detected a lifeform, I thought…”
RIPLEY: “Never mind, let’s get out of here.”
And this, it seems, is when the Torrens finally arrives at Sevastopol. The developers apparently wanted you to get to the station much more quickly in the final game. The Solace sequence does feel slightly unnecessary. I can understand why it was cut. There’s a lot more unused story in Filer’s (opens in new tab), from the very beginning to the end of the game, so it’s worth reading if you’re a fan of the game or you want more insight into how it was written.
Alien: Isolation is one of my favourite games—you can read my review here (opens in new tab)—but one of the main criticisms I had was the storyline. I found the characters insubstantial and the plot derivative. But reading this mass of cut content, I wonder if it suffered because of rewrites, time and budget constraints, or pressure from Alien owner Fox. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. The game is a lovingly made, worthy homage to a sci-fi classic, but I can't help but wonder what it would be like if this stuff made it in.