Blog Post #4 Open Topic: Lighting and Composition in Alien: Isolation


Blog Post #4: Open Topic

Lighting and Composition in Alien: Isolation

This blog post focusses on lighting and composition in the first person survival horror Alien: Isolation (SEGA, 2014), that is based around the Alien movie franchise. Since the game is based on the horror genre the lighting scheme is quite dark and ominous, so when lighting is used it is for a reason. Some of these reasons can be points of interest such as an item which can be picked up or an obstacle that needs to be removed such as door clamps. These objects will usually have a light source over the top of them to show that they are important or intractable. The game does use very nice composition in parts of the game mostly during cinematic and some gameplay, some even very closely resemble that of the films.

Lighting is also used to lead the player though the ship. For example, some areas will be completely dark with no lighting except for a room or hallway which will lead the player to the next area, or new items or key events that relate to the story.

The game has very strong lens flares which can at times be so strong that it is almost impossible to see. This can be annoying a times but also creates tension and anxiety as it makes more challenging to see approaching or attacking enemies.



The game uses quite a bit of silhouettes and dark areas. Silhouettes are used to frame certain objects which could be just environmental items or even the Xenomorph and androids. Some objects will have a light source behind them to make them silhouetted which at first glance can appear to be an enemy, however up close It is just a pile of gear. However these silhouettes that appear to be enemies are mostly used just before an encounter with an enemy, it’s used to frighten the player with the fake then scare them again with the real thing. Most of the enemies encountered will usually have a strong light source behind them to silhouette their forms, this works well with the androids as their eyes shine a red color giving them a very ominous and menacing appearance.


Dark areas are also used to unsettle and frighten the player as they cannot see into the darkness. However these areas are usually the safest as the Xenomorph and other enemies cannot see the player straight away. However these areas are dark to the point that the player cannot see into them, which could mean walking straight into enemies.


Since the Xenomorph is black in colour the player cannot see the creature until it moves past a light source or use a flash light or Molotov and they catch a glimpse. Players do tend to stay away from light sources and stay in shadows as enemies cannot see them as well, however some areas are quite lit so players cannot hide as well.

Overall this game uses lighting and composition extremely well to help support the horror theme and genre. The lighting and composition almost resembles that of the film series, the developers have done a great job creating a game based on a film series without making it tacky.


Creative Assembly. (2014). Alien: Isolation. [Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X]. Sega.

-Amber Jobbitt


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