Return to the root of all evil with this reimagined horror sequel
Often eclipsed by the ultimately more successful Resident Evil games, it was actually Alone in the Dark that kickstarted the whole survival horror genre when the first game in the series was released for the PC back more than 15 years ago. Several less impressive follow ups plus a disastrous Uwe Boll-directed feature film adaptation later, and the franchise was looking none too healthy – at least until Atari got hold of it and decided to completely reboot the whole brand.
The new-look Alone in the Dark stars the original’s hero, Edward Carnby, who wakes up with no memory in a building that is collapsing around his ears. As Carnby, you must escape the building and battle your way through New York’s Central Park which has, for reasons not immediately apparent, become infested by hideous supernatural creatures.
It doesn’t sound particularly original, but Alone in the Dark’s unique selling point is that it employs a number of clever gameplay riffs that lift it a notch or two higher than the average scare-em-up.
For starters, the whole game is presented like a TV series, with ‘episodes’ rather than levels, DVD-style menu-screen controls and chapters that are actually skippable if you get stuck. The originality goes much deeper than that, though, with some inspired puzzles that often require brain-bending combinations of items or clever use of the game’s real-world physics in order to solve them. And anyone who has ever wondered quite how game characters can carry so many items will be pleased to find the answer in the shape of Mr Carnby’s jacket, which acts as your in-game inventory and looks like it was borrowed from a dodgy Rolex salesman.
Sadly, while Alone in the Dark must be applauded for many of its innovation and moments of genuinely unsettling atmosphere, the game is severely hampered by a frustrating control system and some graphical glitches, which both regularly get in the way of the flow of play and will put many off the game altogether. I t’s also worth noting that the game is not for the faint of heart – strong language, brutal violence and disturbing psychological horror abound.
Age rating: 18+
Vista compatible: Yes
Contact: manufacturer/distributor name and UK phone number
Retail Price: £35
Also consider: Penumbra Black Plague; Resident Evil 4
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