Alone in the Dark

August 16, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Alone in the Dark
Release Date: June 23, 2008 (US), June 20, 2008 (EU), July 3, 2009 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Eden Games/Atari
Genre: Adventure/Survival Horror
Platform[s]: PC, Playstation 2, Wii, Xbox 360

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Storyline

The plot revolves around a massive conspiracy hidden within New York City’s Central Park.  The hero is a paranormal investigator called Edward Carnby.  Somehow, Carnby is linked to the events at Central Park however there’s a slight problem – he has amnesia.  So there we have it: uncover the mystery, unlock Edward’s memory while fighting through the usual horde of unhappy demons.  Alone in the Dark is a clichéd affair!   

Gameplay

So, the story isn’t exactly perfect.  Surely the gameplay redeems this?  Well, I’m sorry to say… it doesn’t really.  The fire mechanics work perfectly.  The way flames spread, the way you can manipulate them and their puzzle uses are sheer genius.  Perhaps even the best use of such in a videogame to date.  Also AitD features a number of great ideas; such as the DVD style ‘chapter skipping’, the episodic nature and the unique inventory system.  Chapter skipping is particularly useful when segments are too hard for amateur gamers or too glitchy to progress.  Rather than levels the game is split into episodes (much like on TV), if the player uses the chapter skip then the previous episodes are recapped in the fashion of Lost or 24.  The inventory is presented in the form of Edward’s very limited jacket pockets– which is done to add tension.  Other than the above, the game is a decent survival horror haunted by a number of issues; the combo system (item creation) is difficult due to limited item storage and the fact that certain items must be selected in a particular order, only being able to defeat enemies via fire soon gets tedious, physics are flawed, object collision doesn’t always work, the driving sections are awful and the controls are often unresponsive and awkward.

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Graphics

Alone in the Dark uses light and darkness brilliantly, as does it use fire.  Character models are fine with the exception of unrealistic hair.  Where AitD stands out is with its special effects, where it fails is in the form of its driving sections and numerous graphical glitches.

Sound

We really can’t fault the musical score or the special sound effects.  Everything feels…  epic and in fact is one of the stronger elements of the game.

Overall Score & Replayability

All-in-all Alone in the Dark is a disappointing title, it should have been so much more but saying that it can be enjoyable and is worth playing if only to witness its few unique elements.  We’d advise either picking it up cheap or renting if possible though.