Rating

C

Specific Ratings

GameplayC+
GraphicsA-
Learning CurveC
Replay ValueC-
SoundA-

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • At times it's a complete pleasure
  • Something just kept me playing?!?!
  • Graphics
  • Cinematograhy, for telling storyline
  • New and innovative things
Cons
  • Cars, all have slick tires
  • The greatest shame! Makes me so unhappy!
  • The rest of time its awkward or average!
  • You'll either love or hate it
  • Awkward ways of doing things

Alone in the Dark -- 2008 (PC)

Reviewed by:
Reviewed on:

Summary

The greatest shame of 2008 as this game does so many things right! But does alot of simple things wrong! If you can push yourself through the bad parts it is a half decent game; a case of too many cooks, that spoiled this broth!

Images


Description

Do you hear that sound? That faint sound in the distance? If you listen closely, that will be the sound of a grown man crying! Atari are known for their compelling storylines and great characters, I only have to think back to "Fahrenheit" and "Dreamfall TLJ". When I heard they where releasing this title, I thought brilliant, this will be a good one?

Do you remember the very first Alone in the Dark? An instant classic, back in 1992 (Are you wondering if they had computers then?), but if I really think about it, I can't remember why it was so great? Perhaps it was the whole notion of PC games, was still, fairly new. Alone in the Dark with its 3D polygons, pushed the boundaries of what could be delivered! Even though it had awful camera angles, and some will still remember the infamous coal room. Being trapped in a closet space with a zombie! With a camera angle on the floor, looking upwards, trying to fend it off.

In this day and age, how does Alone in the Dark (2008) fair out? Where all games have a massive polygon count? Where horror boundaries are pushed further and further back into the abyss? And where graphics are so realistic that sometimes realities blur? How is this aging series going to compete?

The game starts off with you, drugged, and blurry eyed. You wake on a bed, watching Bad guys talking. Things have gone wrong, and you had some hand in it! A magical stone, has released some kind of evil force, which is destroying everything in its path. As you get up with one hell of a hangover, you now have to try and escape from this high rise death trap. Fires, Explosions, falling blocks, and some evil cracks are the least of your problems. Because you wake up not even knowing why, who, or what you are! Even though you, as the gamer, know the characters name, Edward Carnby.

Is this game Scary? It certainly has horror, and some shock value, but scary, I am not so sure. One of the major flaws is that it doesn't draw your attention to the "in game" scary moments. For example, early on, you find a body hanging from the ceiling. Suddenly the music changes dramatically, and the body gets dragged away by an unseen monster. But if you aren't looking, which means you have to expect it, you can completely miss it. Not drawing your attention to these scary parts, means that you wonder what you have just missed? If you do go back, to see what the fuss was about, it just doesn't seem scary anymore.

Monsters are gruesome, but don't have a wow factor. But you'll mainly be concentrating on controlling Edward, rather than admiring them. They are beautifully rendered, in all there dark horrific glory. And the bugs are very annoying, just the way insects should be. But none of the monsters really scares me, which is a huge shame as the atmospheric backgrounds are something to admire.

The graphics and atmosphere are of action movie quality. Right from the beginning you get excellent camera angles and fantastic explosions. Of course there are a few camera angles designed for ambiance, and not gameplay, but still nothing too awkward. It's all looking good! But after that, it starts to go downhill, and not a steady step by step but a running leap of faith!

The problem with this game, is that it does some things right! ... Except for one main thing, the controls! When you first start to play this game, it takes some getting used to. Controlling Edward is a bit of a battle, especially dreaded doorways.

Driving cars is an awful pain too! It seems that all cars in New York are fitted with slick tires on a rainy day. So the car will slip and slide at the slightest touch of the steering wheel. Impressive for over-steering turns, I'll grant you, but for driving an awful pain. This becomes so self evident when the second chapter is a spectacular car chase scene. You are chased through New York, by a malevolent force ripping the streets apart behind you. Expect to die a lot, expect to know the streets like the back of your hand, and expect to be really pissed off.

This also highlights the problem with the checkpoint save system. While in some cases there will be numerous saves, other times there will be few, and normally at the most challenging of moments. For example, car chases, where you have to complete the level in one fell swoop, otherwise you have to start from the beginning. you'll be playing this level continually, until you are so annoyed it's completely spoiled. Explosions, jumps, cars smashing, and theatrical music, it's all fantastic. Visually the most impressive things I have ever seen, and equally one of the most resented levels I've ever played.

Also the fighting system can be a problem, as handling a weapon/object is very tricky. Sometimes when you pick up a weapon, and try to swing, Edward will do nothing. This means that you think you have to drop the weapon and pick it up. Very annoying, as it seems like a glitch, but it isn't, it's the games fault for not explaining the fighting system better. This game has to be the worst case for explaining its buttons and functions. You're pretty much left to your own devices to discover how to control Edward.

Of course, it's all in the manual! The exact line I am talking about is this: Under the heading of "Handling Objects" it says, "Mouse Handle the object." Seems obvious! But this little line, which is hugely understated, means that if you move the mouse you can swing the body into the fire. But of course you don't know this, and how could you! Not knowing this means you spend your time nudging the unconscious monster, or walking through the fire yourself. In the hopes, that the monster is killed before it revives. So for the beginning few levels you are constantly beating monsters to death! All the while, you are screaming "Why don't you just die, please for the love of god!"


This is where I am divided; this game has some fantastic parts. But sometimes you can wander around for ages, hoping for a tip that will never come. The designers know how things work, but why should they bother explaining them to us mere mortals. But credit where it is due, as it tries a lot of new and innovative things. Or at least it packages them in new and interesting ways. For instance, I quite like the way the inventory is handled, and the way Edward heals himself.

Items are stored in your jacket, and when you go to your inventory, you see Edward open his jacket, reminding me of a flasher. But it's all presented nicely and once you get the hang of it, is fairly simple to use. But again it's not without some glaring flaws, most notably, the game doesn't pause. So if you haven't prepared items or even equipped them to your hands, things can become tricky. Fighting is especially awkward if your want to retrieve something from your jacket, and very difficult if your new to the system. For this fact alone, you will cautiously approach things, because of the time needed to sort out your inventory. Even when you are used to the inventory system, getting items you need, especially when you in a hurry, can be slow, labored, and highly frustrating.

Items are stored in your jacket, and when you go to your inventory, you see Edward open his jacket, reminding me of a flasher. But it's all presented nicely and once you get the hang of it, is fairly simple to use. But again it's not without some glaring flaws, most notably, the game doesn't pause. So if you haven't prepared items or even equipped them to your hands, things can become tricky. Fighting is especially awkward if your want to retrieve something from your jacket, and very difficult if your new to the system. For this fact alone, you will cautiously approach things, because of the time needed to sort out your inventory. Even when you are used to the inventory system, getting items you need, especially when you in a hurry, can be slow, labored, and highly frustrating.

Also healing is quite innovative; you get a can of medical spray, whatever that is! And you spray your wounds until healed. Plus there are also bandages for serious wounds. While not technically new, the way it's presented and approached, makes this a nice little gem. However you are never aware of any damage until you are in healing mode. You can quite happily walk around with several small wounds, the major ones; you are given a 7 minute count down. But there doesn't seem to be any benefit to healing small cuts and scrapes!

The puzzles are also very clever and innovative, while there is a simple way of solving each; some have a less obvious way. While they are essentially just puzzles, it's the way they have been put together that makes them feel real. Things like water with an electric cable in it; well just drag the electric cable out of the water. These flexible puzzles are potted around and really break up the game, making them feel less like a puzzle and more like a challenge! Of course, and again, there are some flaws with this part, but this comes right back to the control system again. Trust me I've tried, begging Edward to pick up the object and maneuvering it to complete the task, doesn't work!

Then there are numerous little things that could have made this title among the instant classics. Things such as:
Fire is the most realistic I've seen in any game. Makes you want to sit around and sing songs, a few marshmallows wouldn't be a miss.
Enemies can jump onto cars, while you are driving, and does a Terminator style punch through the windscreen.
You are able to combine some items, for example incendiary bullets, for burning monsters. Combinations of items are fairly varied, and some messing around is required.
You are able to drive, while getting ready to bail out, also you can shoot the petrol tank to make cars explode.
An Inventory Favorites for quick selecting object, or combined objects. Very handy once you understand how it works!
The game is similar to others of this genre, but with some really fresh approaches.

There are some rather dubious moments, some I would have not mentioned if the game was better. However its probably because of its less than average quality, these parts stand out. The first "Uh oh!" moment was when you meet Anna, who is possessed by this evil spirit. As they put it "The thing that possesses her asks me for her stone. I don't have it so I gently tell her to fudge off. That's when she stops being nice..." Then you battle against her, in what rings with a slight under tone of domestic violence, as you pick up the handiest weapon. That weapon, the closes thing, is a soup ladle; the next closes thing is a frying pan. Where are you, in the kitchen, of all places!

The next "Uh oh!" moment, is the priest you meet early on in the game. It's an apparent, but vague hint to pedophilia and the church. I am the type to take things lightly, and personally I have no religious preferences, but even I wondered how they could be so obvious! The priest introduces himself as "Theophile, Paddington!" Often used as a trick, like the Bart Simpson calls, if you arrange the name, it becomes P. Theophile.

There are plenty more "Uh oh!" moments, and some "Hey that's good!" moments too. I applaud this game for trying so many new things. Perhaps why this title isn't as good as it could have been. Too many cooks in the kitchen syndrome, and the review could go on forever discussing these points. The main negative is the control system, it's just way too difficult, and that the game gives you the bare minimum explanation. But once you have played around, and discover for yourself, the game becomes slightly better, but that doesn't necessary mean any easier! Sadly I doubt many will get this far, as it can be a constant uphill struggle, and by god you have to be persistent!

Finally the storyline! If you're wondering why this is included last? For the main reason, that you completely miss the story, as you battle with the controls. To be absolutely honest, I don't know if it's a horrible story, or if it's just been spoiled by the control factor. I suspect it's a bit of both, and what I will let you know, is that it has really good and interesting ways of telling it. Portrayed in a cinematic and TV episode style, the story feels a little more jazzed up. One neat thing is the recap feature, starting with the infamous line "Previously on Alone in the Dark!". Then it proceeds to give a quick narration of the story so far. While you won't be using this all the time, it's nice to be reminded of the story once in a while. However the characters personalities seem to change during the course of the story. Edward, who seems introvert at the beginning, becomes a swearing, sarcastic, womanizer. And your companion, a woman called Sarah, goes from a strong, charismatic lead to a damsel in distress.

And the Ending, I can't spoil it for you, as it does an excellent job itself. But this is where it could have redeemed itself, but no, it doesn't. There are no words that describe the two endings you can have, but I can leave you with one good "in game" quote that sums it up! "I've had enough of your bullcrap! Magical stones, Monsters, Prophecies, none of that means crap when you have a bullet in the head?" And indeed it does!

Shame on you Eden Games, and a big shame on you Atari. The game has so many good points and new innovative things. It's just the little things that let it down. Where does this leave you? ... Alone in the dark, watching the realistic visual effects of this game burning in the corner, and I suggest you do!
James

Specifications taken from the Readme File
1. System Requirements
OS (Operating System): Windows XP SP2 32-bit and 64-bit/Vista 32 bits and 64 bits
CPU (Processor): Intel Pentium D 805 2.6 GHz or Athlon X2 +3800 (Intel Pentium Core 2 2.2 GHz recommended)
GPU (Video Cards): NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX PCI Express or ATI Radeon X1650 XT PCI Express or better or ATI Radeon X1950 XT AGP or better (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS or ATI Radeon HD3850 or better recommended) with 256 Mo (512 Mo recommended)
SPU (Sound Cards): DirectX version 9.0c-compatible sound card
System Memory (RAM): 1 GB RAM under XP and 2 GB RAM under Vista (2GB recommended)
HDD free space (Hard Disk): 8.5 GB
DVD drive: 4X speed or faster (read double layer)
DirectX: DirectX version 9.0c (included) or higher
Input: Keyboard and mouse or a controller from the supported list.

An internet connection is needed to:
- Install Alone In The Dark.
- Launch Alone In The Dark for the first time.
- Revoke the license of Alone In The Dark (at the uninstall or later).


Review Page Hits: 0 today (441 total)