I discovered this series today, and I played through the first two games. I very much enjoyed the rugged, bloodied atmosphere; it truly horrifies the player and adds this sense of urgency. One saw the killers, heard them speak, and felt a shiver go down their spine - and felt the need to escape. The puzzles were clever, but not impossible; finding the dead bodies added to the atmosphere and horror, and finding the tools, notes and other things was intuitive, even if challenging at times.
Then, I got to this one, and I'm sad to say that I did not enjoy it nearly as much. I got frustrated with the hidden panels, that can only be found by literally running your mouse over every inch of wall space on the screen - even then, they're extremely easy to miss. I had to consult a walkthrough more times than I've ever had to on a point-and-click adventure before, just to find what I was missing on the blank walls. I clicked around the game for at least a good twenty minutes, wondering what the hell I could be missing. It wasn't until I looked at the walkthrough that I was shown that there were completely invisible panels on the walls, and I couldn't believe such a ridiculous thing was put into the game.
The "puzzles" were far too easy; the locked cases were unlocked simply by running your mouse over them in a random order, the codes are literally handed to you (where as in the other two games, you had to find them and put them together via ingenuity), and the only difficult thing about the gun was finding those damn hidden panels, which had the batteries and such for it.
In the first two games, you're introduced to a crazed killer in the introduction. The first, The Burner, makes one shrink back in fear; you're unable to see his face, all you see around you is this dank and bloodied cell, and you feel like running away, but you know that you can't. The second, The Tooth Fairy killer, makes you squirm. It's like all your childhood fears of dentists and doctors had come true. Her voice was maddening, and it was like watching a nightmare.
With both of these characters, you immediately got a feel for their terrifying personality. As you progressed in the game, you find out why they are the way they are. Reading the Tooth Fairy's notes is truly creepy and unsettling, and finding the notes describing the torture from The Burner induces panic in the player.
Then, in this game... suddenly aliens. Forgive me if I'm missing something, but where did that even come from? In the first two games, no indication of any sort of extra-terrestrial influence was even hinted at - the Observer that was mentioned on the computer in the second game could be the only exception, but as he wasn't described in any way, it doesn't necessarily mean he is some sort of alien overlord. In fact, that would have been one of my last guesses, and it still doesn't make sense to me.
Beyond that, the characters of the aliens are not explored as the killers' were in the previous games. I assume it was to make them more "mysterious" or something, but it just felt empty. Even the Observer isn't developed at all. Now, I am aware there is another game coming out, so I presume that in that game, the Observer will be more developed, but the other aliens are still very bland. They didn't induce the fear in me that the captors in the previous games did; it was weird, but that's it.
The environment was also not much to look at. Previously, there was a ton of stuff to look at; grunge, blood, dead things, pipes, and just random clutter. I know that this is an alien ship and would be more clean cut, but it still felt unexciting to look at.
I am sad to give this game such a low score, after having so much fun with the first two, but I just did not enjoy this game at all. It was frustrating and felt pointless.