Alone in the dark is a survival horror game by Atari and it comes with many innovative ideas but unfortunately it executes those ideas poorly. The game’s focus is based on a strange set of supernatural and bizarre occurrences that are reported from within modern day Central Park, Manhattan, New York. After awakening with no apparent memory, beaten and bruised, it’s up to you, Edward Carnby, to shake off your violent captors and start investigating the mystery of the park.
Eventually Carnby meets up with a series of unmemorable characters and learns that evil has been released onto the world by a man named Crowley, he did this by using a strange stone that apparently contained Lucifer himself. It’s now up to Carnby and Sarah to find Crowley, get the stone and send the devil and all of his demons back to hell.
I instantly recognised Carnby’s voice as that of James McCaffrey who also does the voice of Max Payne in Max Payne 3; he does a good job here. The game supports both third person perspective and first person perspective, choosing between the two is mostly up to the player apart from certain areas of the game where you are forced to use one or the other which can be very frustrating.
As I stated above Alone in the dark has a lot of great ideas; the inventory system in which Carnby opens his jacket and you can view the items you currently have in a limited number of slots is very original and being able to combine various items to create new weapons of destruction can be really fun. It all falls flat once you’re given the opportunity to truly free roam around central park and you come to the realisation that there are only about 10 different items in the entire game. The variation in things you can create is very limited and the differences between each weapon mainly come down to whether you have a handkerchief as a wick on a Molotov cocktail or a bandage, it’s very disappointing.
During your time in central park and the buildings surrounding it you will come into contact with a few different enemies including; humans who have transformed into demons, bats and bugs. It’s always fun franticly attempting to make a Molotov when you’re being attacked by a horde of bats, oh yeah did I forget to mention? While in your inventory the game doesn’t pause! Usually this isn’t an issue because the AI can be so awful that some enemies will happily stand by and watch as you create the weapon that’s going to kill them but sometimes they won’t and it’s seriously annoying.
At times Alone in the dark does feel like a survival horror game with some of its ideas but it simply fails because it’s far too easy, there really isn’t any challenge here; unless you consider fighting with the awful camera angles a challenge. You will likely never run out of bullets for your gun which is useless anyway unless you use a flammable liquid to turn them into fire bullets; this is necessary because ONLY fire can kill enemies.
Anything and everything you need is around in abundance and once you learn that every taxi has a health canister in the dashboard you’re on easy street, not to mention that items respawn after a short time. I highly recommend using a lighter and a spray can to tear through everything with serious ease.
The biggest problem I had with Alone in the dark is the story; it’s boring and quite confusing. The voice acting is well done but there just isn’t much to go on at all, the ending is one of the worst endings to any game I’ve played; its unbelievable sequel bait and will leave you feeling insulted for putting in the hours to get to that point.
Believe it or not there were some things I did like about Alone in the dark; Fire is amazingly done and is probably the most realistic I’ve ever seen. Also overall the game is quite good graphically, characters look decent and central park is dark, misty and quite eerie at times. There are moments that are very cinematic and along with the music that is also done well, it can be fun but it’s all completely ruined by the clunky controls and camera angles.
Alone in the dark has some great, innovative and original ideas but it simply fails to deliver on just about every single one of them. Technical glitches, clunky controls and a terrible fixed camera hold it back from being more. There is some charm to AITD and you can have fun with it if you ignore the issues, fire looks amazing and combining items can be enjoyable during the earlier stages but it’s held back by an uninteresting, confusing story.
Alone In The Dark