In the constant pursuit of exposure and mainstream popularity, difficulty and video games have become more and more estranged from one another. Whilst the arcade origins of the medium meant insanely hard A.I. would only result in more coins being expended to overcome the challenge, these days people are more likely to trade your game in, complain about it online, not feel like they've gotten their money's worth or worse, not buy it at all, simply because they aren't confident they'll even make a dent.
That said... pish on the entire idea. Video games were forged in the fires of challenge - of sweaty, passionate honour, dammit. We played and completed the likes of Mega Man and Battletoads not because of some story-based reason or an achievement-pop, but because we knew we had to.
If us 'real gamers' don't routinely test our mettle with the most egregious concoctions of challenging code, who will?
Exactly. So do your duty - pick up the pad, look the following titles square in the eyes and roar a mighty roar. You may get knocked back, you may feel yourself questioning your very existence, but the feeling of making it through and adding another notch to your belt?
There's nothing like it.
Consequently, although I've alluded to the charms and rewards of overcoming more arcady experiences, Alien Isolation is a true test of patience and mental endurance. Taking place across a number of environments where the objective is to get from A to B avoiding a hulking Xenomorph that patrols the halls at random (yes, random) you'll die an untold amount of times just trying to figure out what it can and can't pick up on.
Hurried footsteps? Yes. The closing of a door? Yes. Brushing against the side of the environment for a second on your way to grab an essential item? Oh, hell yes, there'll be acid blood covering the screen before you can say, "When did I last save?!"
And therein lies the rub - as a way to enforce just how much you really, really do not want to die in this game, all progress including cutscenes watched and items retrieved is completely wiped if you die in between checkpoints.
It works on the lower difficulties when the Xeno isn't so receptive to the sound of your nails growing, but on Hard or the patched-in Nightmare difficulty, well, just try playing without wishing for the sweet release of death yourself.