Alien: Isolation (cut content of action-adventure video game; 2014)
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Alien Isolation is a video game based off of the Aliens Franchise that was developed by Creative Assembly, published by SEGA and released on October 7, 2014. During the game’s development, several changes were made that resulted in content being cut from the final product.
While it is common for video games to have their plot edited or altered during development, Alien: Isolation is notable for having data relating to the earlier iterations of the story, in the form of unused script files found within the Xbox 360 build, and references to cut maps within the standard build of the game. These reveal that the game's story was in fact altered quite substantially, perhaps closer to its release.
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 Porter, Marshal Waits and many 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 authorization is now required, and Jackson witnessing the Xenomorph kill Harper.
It’s unknown how this section would have played out as it may have simply 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 (a component that would be featured in the bonus DLC map Crew Expendable).
The game was originally going to begin with the crew of the Torrens being woken up from hypersleep early, before they reached 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 had no FTL drives, meaning the people on board were being forced to share the few hypersleep pods available by drawing up a rotation; 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 vessel then begins to break up and Ripley is forced to flee, barely escaping back to the Torrens. During her frantic escape, Ripley catches a glimpse of a Xenomorph.
The Solace is featured in several pieces of concept art created for the game. Further evidence of its existence remaining in the game includes the Anesidora's map file, which is named "SOLACE", showing 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.
Marlow and the Black Box
One of the biggest changes between the original game and the final product was the role of Marlow in the story. Whereas he is already in custody at the Colonial Marshal headquarters when Ripley first arrives and is only 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 Solomon’s Habitation Tower.
Ripley's pursuit of Marlow would lead her back to the San Cristobal Medical Facility, where she 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.
Upon 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. While this was cut Ransome’s 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.
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).
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.
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.
In pursuit of Samuels and Taylor, Ripley encounters Seegson Security forces in the Sevastopol Mall. In the cut scripts, Seegson Security are raiding civilian camps and murdering innocent survivors. This is hinted in the final game where Ripley walks past a security shutter with civilians and the Seegson Security behind it, however the violent nature of the scenes in the original script are not seen. While this section was essentially cut from the game, their corrupt dealings are the subject of several audio and text logs. The Seegson Security forces were also supposed by be armed with sub-machine guns.
Originally, Ricardo’s encounter with a Facehugger was to take place far earlier in the story, while Ripley was cut off from him inside APOLLO. He would subsequently recover with little memory or understanding of what happened (as with Kane in Alien). Despite growing fears that something was wrong, he would keep the situation secret from Ripley until the point of the Chestburster emerging, which was to occur after the communications dish realignment.
However, upon reflection, the game developers realized that the gestation period should be considerably longer because of the process taking around 24 hours in Alien. Thus, Ricardo's fate was changed so that he simply falls victim to a Facehugger later in the game.
The Gravity Stabilizers
In a last attempt to wipe out the Xenomorphs, Ripley goes to deactivate Sevastopol's gravity stabilizers, 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 stabilizers are simply destroyed when the Anesidora explodes. On her way into the bowels of the station where the stabilizers 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 stabilizers, Ripley succeeds in sabotaging them and seals Sevastopol's fate.