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Alien: Isolation is a 2014 video game telling the story of (unmarried) Amanda Ripley in search of her mother (Ellen Ripley), 15 years after the disappearance of Nostromo. So basically, these are events in-between the 1979 film Alien, and the 1986 film Aliens.

Is Alien: Isolation canon?

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The studio has intentionally avoided confirming or denying the game's canon status

In an interview for Metro, the game's 'Console Design Lead' Clive Lindop stated that the issue of canon was one that they'd put to one side on purpose.

GC: The other problem with games focusing on Aliens is that the creatures themselves were much more straightforward in the sequel, more-or-less straight analogues of ants or other insects. But the alien in the first film was meant to be a lot more complicated, is that something you’re also going back to?

CL: It’s one of those things where if you get deep into the subject you find out that there’s a difference between the popular perception and what you know from digging around. There’s a lot of stuff in the original script that never made it onto screen. And so we always avoided the question of canon to a certain degree because we’re never going to retcon the story or suddenly make massive rewrites to what happened in it, and as far as the creature is concerned Cameron in effect, for the audience that had never read previous scripts, filled in an aspect of the alien’s existence that hadn’t previously existed.

And if you take that as read then yeah, you kind of have… what you understand as the audience about the about the alien is mechanical. You don’t understand why it exists but you understand how it functions and its life cycle. But you don’t necessarily know the… from our point of view it was never about trying to add new canon or explain something it’s about what is it actually like to be the subject of his attention?And that’s something that, without a huge amount of military hardware, you’ve never seen.

Alien Isolation interview – ‘we keep scaring ourselves’

This was also discussed by the game's 'Creative Lead', Alistair Hope in an interview. Note how artfully he dodges the question.

The details about Amanda Ripley and the art direction appear to be faithful to the spirit of the early films. Have you had any discussion with FOX about whether Isolation will be considered a canon entry in the series?

Alistair Hope: We really wanted to place our story as close as possible to the events of the original film. We realised that in Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, we had a character who was closely tied to the first film, but whose story had yet to be discovered. We asked ourselves: “When the Nostromo went missing, who would care enough to keep searching for answers?” This led us back to Amanda; she would care.

FOX has been extremely supportive from the moment we pitched the idea of the game to them. We’ve received a huge amount of production design archives from the original film which has provided an enormous wealth of additional material from which to draw upon. This is very much a game inspired by the first film.

Behind the terror of Alien: Isolation – exclusive interview

He then takes precisely the same tack (e.g. highlighting that the game doesn't conflict with the existing canon, while not actually confirming its canon status) when asked the question in a later interview.

Strategy Informer: Players will be taking the role of Amanda Ripley. She was mentioned in Aliens, the second film, in the special edition or an extended cut. Does that mean players are to consider Alien: Isolation as canon?

Al Hope: So this all came out of, when we started. I really wanted the game to take place as close as possible to the first movie, because one of the things that we wanted the experience to be was about Ridely Scott's original alien: massive, terrifying, lethal. We love, love, love, love the environment, the 70's view of the future, that was what I wanted to make.

So in terms of story I wanted something that was kinda connected to that first film and we kept thinking about it and asking questions, “okay, the Nostromo has gone missing, who would care?” Weyland-Yutani would care, they said they cared in Aliens -- it was an expensive loss for them -- but we felt we needed something that had an emotional connection. Then realising that Ellen Ripley had a daughter that was revealed in the director's cut of Aliens, that meant that there was this person out that, when Ellen went missing, wanted to know what happened. It seemed like her story had never been told and this was “wow okay, this was amazing, she'd wanted to know!”. So in our story, when Weyland-Yutani believes someone's found the flight recorder, they send a small team to go and collect it; Amanda is one of the volunteers to go to the station.

IN SPACE, MICHAEL WESTGARTH TALKS TO ALIEN: ISOLATION'S CREATIVE LEAD AL HOPE

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    "we’re never going to retcon the story or suddenly make massive rewrites to what happened in it". And yet, Prometheus. – DisturbedNeo Nov 25 '16 at 8:16
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    @DisturbedNeo - Ah yes, the irony. The games studio is far more respectful of the IP than the movie studio :-) – Valorum Nov 25 '16 at 8:23
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A slightly better general rule is that games are a lower priority in terms of canon, but that doesn't automatically make them non-canon. See the Star Wars Expanded Universe for a demonstration on how this works.

If something in one of the movies conflicts with something in one of the games, the movie takes precedence. If it is a fairly minor inconsistency, such as an off-hand comment by a character, then the movie version of that event is considered canon, but the rest of the game is also considered canon. If, on the other hand, it is a major inconsistency that is fairly integral to the story of the game and cannot be resolved whilst keeping the story of the movies intact, the entire game is then considered non-canon.

So, to answer the question, the game is canon as long as there are no major, glaring conflicts with any of the movies.

Frankly, if a game as bad as Colonial Marines can be considered canon then Isolation sure as hell can be.

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    I don't agree. The canon status of a property is determined by the rights-holder, studio or author, not by some arbitrary standard. – Valorum Dec 5 '16 at 12:40
  • That's true, but in the absence of any such determination (as in this case, where the studio hasn't said anything one way or the other), you basically have to make up your own mind about whether or not it's canon. I find it's best to go by the Star Wars model for determining whether or not something should be considered canon. – DisturbedNeo Dec 5 '16 at 12:52
  • The Matrix video games are a solid counter-example – Valorum Dec 5 '16 at 12:56
  • How so? Enter The Matrix runs concurrently to the movies and doesn't cause any direct conflicts with them, only with itself depending on the character you choose. In Path of Neo, The Wachowskis appear on screen to basically tell you it isn't canon, because they deliberately changed stuff. Matrix Online continues after the movies ended, so again, no direct conflicts. If anything the Matrix games support my argument, only stuff that caused direct conflicts with the movies (Path of Neo) are considered non-canon. – DisturbedNeo Dec 5 '16 at 13:24
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Well it honestly depends on what you consider canon, in a manner of speaking. The video game has, I think, been considered tentatively canon, as another user pointed out. It's never been referenced in the movies (because of course it didn't exist when the movies came out or has taken place long after the two Prometheus movies), so if you go solely by those, then no, it's not canon.

However, in 2014, three novels were published prior to the October release of Alien: Isolation: Alien: Out of the Shadows, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, and Alien: River of Pain. These books were explicitly created to tie in with the films-only canon, but Out of the Shadows (set between the original Alien and Aliens) has a brief passage in which both Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her daughter (the protagonist of the then-unreleased game) are referenced to having foiled Weyland-Yutani's attempts at acquiring the Xenomorph. By this passage alone and by the intent of those three novels to tie in with the Alien movie series (and discard all Alien Expanded Universe material to date iirc), it can be suggested that those three novels plus the movies (excluding AVP/AVPR) plus the game are meant to represent an "official" canon.

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Unfortunetly, nobody ever issued an official statement on this topic.

However, it was released under 20th Century Fox's blessing, and Fox holds all rights for the franchise. Make of that what you will.

  • They've issued a host of statements on the topic. See above. – Valorum Dec 5 '16 at 12:40
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    @Valorum and none of them say clearly "nope, not canon" or "yup it's canon" – Petersaber Dec 5 '16 at 12:43
  • That's true, but they do say 'we've side-stepped the issue' – Valorum Dec 5 '16 at 12:52
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    @Valorum so basicly changing "an official statement" to "a direct official statement " would make my answer true – Petersaber Dec 5 '16 at 15:04
  • True, but not especially useful. – Valorum Dec 5 '16 at 16:02
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Given that Sigourney Weaver almost endorsed the game, I would say yes, I heard this official book of sorts set in the universe of the game acknowledges the events of the game. And I heard that they'll be making a movie flat out ignoring Aliens 3 and 4, so they might acknowledge the events of the game or even Amanda herself, who knows? But I consider it fully fledged canon, it's an amzingly terrifying game. It's a better Alien movie than 3, 4 and Covenant lol

  • Do you have any sources for this info? It would really help improve your answer :) – kjw Mar 29 '18 at 23:48

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