Alone in the Dark Review

Player(s): 1
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When I think of the Alone in the Dark franchise, I often think of flawed horror games that I’ll play once and never pick up again. I played the original two Alone in the Dark games on the 3DO. For their time, they were decent, but I don’t have many memories of them. I never played the third game. The fourth game was ok, but came off as a mediocre RE clone. The fifth game (for Xbox 360) was interesting, but severely brought down by some ridiculously overcomplicated controls. The new Alone in the Dark finally breaks free from this cycle. It isn’t perfect, but I definitely want to see the series continue with this style.

The new Alone in the Dark is a recreation of the original game. It has the same overall story. If you’ve played the Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes, then this new Alone in the Dark plays very similar to those. The story follows Emily Hartwood and detective Edward Carnby as they travel to Derceto Manor to investigate the disappearance of Emily’s uncle, Jeremy Hartwood. Derceto is a home for the mentally fatigued and along the way, the two main characters interact with the many patients that live at Derceto. The overall voice acting to this game is very well done. Both lead characters are voiced by high-profile actors/actresses and the overall cast lends their voice talents well. I especially like the redone Edward Carnby. He is like a classic gumshoe detective.


If you like to have a great horror atmosphere in a game, this Alone in the Dark has a fantastic overall atmosphere for you. Just from the beginning, while exploring the mansion, I got constant feels of uneasiness from its surroundings. Environmental objects will sometimes move (such as cabinet doors, etc.) as your character walks against them. Random noises are heard throughout the manor. The game transfers between the mansion and other worlds quite often – sometimes for long periods and sometimes very short. You never do truly know if you are safe or not. You might walk into a room and then be suddenly thrust into a battle with enemies that just appear out of thin air.

The game moves at a steady framerate for the most part. It does stutter a bit here and there, but it is not common. In between cutscenes and after entering a new room are the usual key points for a stutter if it is going to happen. The graphics for the game are quite good. The character models, especially for the main characters are done pretty well. The game has some noticeably good motion capture for character conversations.

From the beginning, you get to choose to play as either Edward or Emily. Both character campaigns are nearly the same. Each character has their own unique cutscenes and there is a bit of difference in some parts, so it’s worth it to play both campaigns to get the full story. While at the mansion, you’ll have to find keys and other objects to unlock more of the rooms in the mansion. Eventually, you’ll be traveling to different areas where you’ll encounter creatures. The game only has a few weapons. The characters share the majority of the weapons except for the starting handgun. The game has no inventory – it does not need an inventory since you can carry just about everything, but you are limited in the amount of ammo that you can carry per weapon. On a personal note, it’s too bad that you don’t see weapons on the body of your character. When you press a button to equip a weapon, your character simply reaches for the weapon on their body and then a weapon appears in their hands as they transfer to their equip stance.


Enemy designs are along the lines of the designs taken from other Alone in the Dark games. They have a strong resemblance to Lovecraftian creatures. There are around five normal enemy types (one with variations) and there are also two boss enemies. The game has its fair share of puzzles. The puzzle difficulty is just right. They are not too easy and not too hard. If you spend enough time with a puzzle, you will eventually figure it out. The solution is often in the environment or in a file. From the beginning of the game, you can choose between an option that will offer you hints and another option that will offer no hints. I tried the option with hints on the my second playthrough and it does slightly spoil some puzzles but one thing I like about it is that it highlights important phrases (or places) in files that go along with the main plot. Also, when mentioning files, one thing that is great about the files in this game is that all files have voice-overs that can be turned on and off – it helps to make some of the longer files bearable when you can simply listen to them.

If you’ve read just about any other review, you’ll hear the reviewer complain about the game’s combat and I totally agree with them. The combat is not smooth. Enemies only stagger the first time you shoot them then they eventually break out into a dash and then attack. It seems like all enemies follow this same pattern. You do have a dodge button in the game, but you’re not invincible during that dodge. Sadly, the game does not let you know about the dodge – you have to figure it out on your own. Both characters reload very slow with all their weapons as well. When you fight more than one enemy the flaw with the combat system truly shows itself. As I progressed further and further into the game, the combat got more and more frustrating.


I will admit, I did get the hang of the combat system on a second playthrough, but it still just doesn’t feel right. You HAVE to learn to use the dodge button for every enemy encounter if you want to get through without getting hit. The game gives you melee weapons and objects that you can toss at enemies as well. Melee combat feels very janky. While hitting enemies, they can suddenly perform an attack with i-frames that will break through your melee attacks. You can toss objects near enemies to distract them and you also find some cocktails that you can toss at enemies to burn them (or create an oil streak on the ground that you can set on fire by shooting it). The game doesn’t go into detail about cocktails in its tutorial, so that is another thing you have to figure out on your own. Cocktails can be picked up just like a brick, but cocktails are more than a distraction – the game only goes over distractions in its tutorials.

If you’re a fan of old-school survival horror games, definitely give this game a try. I greatly enjoyed it and could look past the flaws, but the flaws are too bad to ignore (in some instances) when reviewing the game. Alone in the Dark is a series that has been MUCH in need of a reboot and reimagining and this latest Alone in the Dark does that quite well. This game may have its problems, but it’s certainly nice to see that Alone in the Dark is actually relevant once again.

The Good:
+ Fantastic atmosphere and sound
+ Very good voice acting from the entire cast (including file transcriptions)
+ Overall good graphics

The Bad:
- The combat isn’t smooth
- The game stutters every now and then
- It’s not uncommon to get stuck in the environment
- The game needs to explain more of the basics in its tutorials (such as the dodge button and tossing cocktails at enemies)

Final Rating: 75% - Even though it stumbles in a few places, this is a great reinvention of the Alone in the Dark franchise.


Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.