WayForward Technologies have written a blog post detailing some of their design choices while developing Aliens Infestation for the Nintendo DS.
Inspired by Metroid (which was originally inspired by Alien in the first place), Aliens: Infestation’s goal is to execute the same sort of progression and backtracking that you would find in a Metroid game.
Being based on the Aliens franchise, though, WayForward also wanted to make the game feel scary. They say they took two player restrictions into account in order to try and achieve this goal: visibility and resources.
Visibility is restricted in the game by occasionally turning the lights out while you’re going through an area. Several areas in the game are entirely dark and won’t let you move through them until you’ve found some sort of light source to carry with you. Once you find a light source you can carry around, it only illuminates what’s directly in front of you, not what’s behind or above.
Xeno appearances in Aliens: Infestation are meant to complement this by having them slink out of shadows and popping out of the floor or ceiling. In the former, the aliens are camouflaged among the level’s architecture and will only come out once you’ve passed it. WayForward say there are ways to tell if there’s an alien in hiding, waiting to ambush you, but that not being able to tell for sure is part of the suspense.
Resources involves putting an ammo-count on all your weapons, save for the single-shot pistol. This is meant to make the player use their ammunition sparingly and in short bursts. WayForward hope this will make for more close encounters with enemies.