The Nizulo Re-Review: Alone in the Dark
Alone in the Dark is one of the oldest video game series still around and is credited for creating the survival-horror genre of games, paving the way for the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. AitD is the latest game to enter the series since 2001′s Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare and was produced by series veteran, Atari.
Alone in the Dark, like it’s predecessor The New Nightmare, is loosely tied to the original trilogy of games. Once again stepping into the shoes of paranormal detective Edward Carnby, you find him in a room awaiting his execution. After escaping your captors with the aid of horrific, fleshy looking crack that appears, you find yourself looking into a mirror, wondering who you are. Stricken with amnesia, Edward does not recognize his old friend and student, Theophile Paddington. Theophile, wounded and disoriented, is only able to tell of Edward and himself knowing each other and that some sort of ritual had caused Edward to lose his memory and that their attackers were after some sort of stone that Edward once possessed and that Theo currently holds. Thus, your journey to stop an evil plot somehow connected to Central Park in New York City begins. At moments the plot seems generic and moves along at a slow pace, and it suffers from two of the worst ending I have ever encountered, with each being lose-lose situations. AitD is presented much like a television show in an episodic format. You’re able fast forward or skip any number of scene’s or episode’s in the game, right up to the last few levels, which are only unlocked after completing a certain number of episodes. After clearing an episode, you’re given the option of saving or quiting (or both, if you so desire). Loading a game rewards you with a “Previously on Alone in the Dark“ cut scene to bring you back up to speed. I, however, did not find myself quitting very often in the 10 hours it took to complete it.
You will be facing off against Humanz, amongst others, which are scarred and disfigured (wait for it!) humans. You’ll primarily be using fire to defeat them, which is the only thing that will destroy them permanently. Fire itself is generated in the world, real-time, and can even catch other items on fire. You’re able to pick up items which range from baseball bats to decorative lamps, and set them on fire to combat both the enemies and the darkness. This is quite an ordeal though, because your swings are controlled by your joystick, which is good in theory, but lacks the polish and feel of swinging a lightsaber in the Jedi Knight series of games, one of the better examples of this mechanic. Also available to use are your trusty flashlight and pistol, and a slew of others such as, glowsticks, explosive liquid-filled bottles, and tape. Instead of a formal inventory screen, your character will delve into his jacket, which, by the way, is done in real time. In your… jacket, you’re able to combine your items to create different, usually better creations, like pouring explosive liquid on your bullets to create fire bullets or using a bandage and bottle of explosive liquid to make a molotov cocktail. Speaking of bandages, as you take damage in the game the effects show, with your shirt and jeans getting physical rips and blood oozing from the wounds. To heal yourself, you simply spray your wounds with first aid spray or, if they’re bad enough, rap it with a bandage to stop the bleeding. Since this is, again, done in real time, it adds to the tension of the fights. The biggest quarrel with AitD is the fact that you have to constantly switch between first and third person view. You’re not able to able to do certain things, like shoot your gun, for instance, in third person view, and you’re not able to swing your melee weapons, you’re most effective weapons when sheathed in fire, while in first person view. If the game had either one of them, alone, it would have excelled. Or, had it adapted an over the shoulder view point, I would have loved it.
Other than combat, which there is a lot of, you will find yourself doing a lot of puzzle solving, platforming, and driving. Most of the puzzles are cleverly designed and wholly fun to experience. Soon after the game starts you’ll be introduced to rappelling, and then soon after, you will start shooting down cables to climb to new areas. In certain sequences of the game, you’ll also be made to climb said cable or jump over crevasses to get to new areas. I wish I had something good to say about the driving parts of the game, but there just isn’t anything good about it. Soon after the games’ start, you’re able to freely roam about Central Park and since it is a fairly large area you will be doing a lot of driving from area to area. The cars in the game do not have proper physics and you’ll find yourself careening out of control often with just a small adjustment of the vehicle’s direction. There are also three prominent driving sequences in the game at the beginning, middle, and end, and they are a pain to endure, to say the least. I found myself dying countless times as I memorized the course that you had to take before I finally completed them.
The Bottom Line: Overall, I enjoyed my time in the Dark, however it was a bitter sweet experience. The game is plagued with a clunky control scheme and horrible vehicle physics, but has moments where it shines, like when you make your first makeshift torch or when you kill your first humanz with a flame covered picture frame. The game had a lot of great ideas that weren’t given the proper polish to make them what they could have been, however it’s still a good game. And, one I would recommend playing, if only to experience it for yourself.
Nizulo scores this 6/10