Your Alexa device can now help you escape a xenomorph

Today is Alien Day: a day that 20th Century Fox uses to promote everything Alien . (The date falls on April 26 due to the name of the moon in the first movie: LV-426). One of the things that Fox has released this year is a neat Alexa skill called "Offworld Colony Simulator", a game in which you have to escape from a colony without being eaten by a xenomorph.

The skill is available today: go to your Echo or Alexa enabled device and say "Alexa, open Alien Simulator" and it will be started by you. The game is set up as a beta test of the Weyland-Yutani corporation for an AI in charge of a colony's security software. It's a basics issue based on shifts where you start at a base, while Alexa gives you some information about your environment. You have to choose what to do: go in a particular direction, look in a room or pick up items that you find along the way. Play a bit like an old school RPG, where you leave the colony before you run out of time or eat an alien.

With much help, the site provides a three-page character sheet that allows you to track your inventory, health status, and location, so you do not miss out or forget you have something. There is also a multi-player sheet. If you play with a small group of friends, you should divide the responsibilities between the Captain (who goes to Alexa), a Navigator (who keeps track of where you are) and an Engineer (who keeps track of statistics and equipment) . After playing for most of this morning, I recommend taking notes as you go: it is very easy to turn around and lose track of where you are.

The aspect of voice navigation of this little RPG lends itself well to the claustrophobic franchise Alien because it is up to the player to imagine their environment and track where they are. The interface is not perfect, a couple of times I had to repeat suggestions. But it shows the narrative potential that domestic assistants have: how voice commands provide a way to reproduce a story by taking control of a character. Just make sure you do not run into an alien in the shadows.

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