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Homesick for the unheimlich: Back to the uncanny future in Alien: Isolation

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In 2014 Sega released Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation, a video game sequel to the 1979 film Alien. As an attempt to create both an authentic homage to the Alien franchise and a credible successor to Ridley Scott’s original film, Alien: Isolation was received as both a work of remediated nostalgia and as a deeply uncanny survival horror. This article discusses Alien: Isolation framed by theories of the uncanny (the unhomely) and of nostalgia (the homely), with the aim of revealing how the production design of the game reconciled these seemingly contradictory but nonetheless overlapping aesthetic qualities. By drawing on examples from Alien: Isolation’s visual and level design, this article discusses how the integration of nostalgic and uncanny qualities could be of value to horror and sci-fi game design, in particular to the development of sequels within existing franchises, and to remediations, remakes and reboots.
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Keywords: level design; nostalgia; production design; science fiction; survival horror; uncanny

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Abertay University

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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