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Presenting Gameffine’s Alone in the Dark review.

In 1992, ‘Alone in the Dark’ revolutionized the industry with its pioneering survival horror genre. The game’s narrative drew inspiration from H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and the cinematic works of directors such as Dario Argento and George Romero. Raynal’s development team skillfully integrated this story through crucial texts dispersed throughout the game’s setting. To navigate technical constraints, the creators utilized a fixed camera angle system, which artfully orchestrated the movement of three-dimensional characters against two-dimensional background visuals.

It has been 32 years since then, and technology has advanced significantly. Meanwhile, the ‘Alone in the Dark’ series has experienced numerous setbacks. Most sequels to the original 1992 game have received mixed or negative reviews, with ‘Illumination’ in 2015 being the final straw that led Atari SA to sell the franchise to THQ Nordic. Inspired by the recent success of the ‘Resident Evil’ Remakes, the THQ Nordic team has undertaken the crucial task of reimagining the 1992 classic, aiming to revive the series once and for all.

The 2024 reimagining of Alone in the Dark serves as a homage to the beloved 90s cult classic, set against the gothic backdrop of the American South during the 1920s. It presents a noir ambiance infused with classic Lovecraftian horror elements, blending the familiar with the surreal. The game is slated for release on PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S on March 20, 2024.

The Missing Uncle

Alone in the Dark features Derceto Manor in this reimagining of the 1992 classic. One of its inhabitants, Jeremy Hartwood, has disappeared. His niece, Emily Hartwood, troubled by a disconcerting letter, hires Private Detective Edward Carnby to join her at Derceto Manor – an antiquated residence nestled deep in the Bayou, now serving as a retreat for those mentally weary.

At the game’s outset, players can choose to play as Emily (voiced by Jodie Comer) or Edward (voiced by David Harbour). This choice determines the main character and the sidekick, whom players will encounter occasionally. Initially, Emily and Edward will follow the same story arcs. However, their journeys will diverge over time, allowing players to explore different areas exclusive to each character. Moreover, interactions with NPCs will significantly vary depending on the chosen character. The residents of Derceto will respond differently, resulting in unique cutscenes and dialogues for Emily and Edward.

In your search for Jeremy Hartwood, you’ll quickly discover that Derceto holds secrets beyond what’s visible. The manor resembles a quintessential haunted house where rooms morph, peculiar anomalies emerge, and upon discovering a crucial item, you can unlock gateways to bizarre nightmare realms. These portals lead you away from Derceto Manor to places like nocturnal New Orleans, the murky swamps of Louisiana, Ancient Egypt, and beyond, confronting the darkest depths of your traumas.

Brains Over Brawns

The game boasts the quintessential elements of a survival horror adventure—thorough exploration, intricate puzzles, an engaging story, and intense combat. Players can confront monsters using a traditional array of firearms (like pistols and shotguns), or temporary melee weapons (which tend to break easily), or they can both injure and divert foes with a strategically thrown brick or even a Molotov cocktail. Given the scarcity of ammunition, players may also opt to employ stealth or simply flee.

The game increasingly emphasizes puzzles and gradually transitions to combat scenarios as the campaign progresses. The combat is generally realistic and slightly awkward, akin to the Resident Evil 2 remake compared to the more recent Resident Evil 4 Remake. The gunplay lacks fluidity, and both dodging and sprinting feel cumbersome. However, considering Detective Carnby’s physical stature, this seems appropriate.

In the relative safety of Derceto Manor, you will be met with puzzles that are both challenging and require out-of-the-box thinking, the discovery of hidden clues, and careful interpretation. To aid in this endeavor, at the start of the game, players have the option to select either modern or old-school mode. The former activates most assistance systems by default, while the latter offers a more immersive detective experience by necessitating that players deduce more elements independently.

For someone who sucks at puzzles, the customizable difficulty options proved quite effective, making the experience far from being cumbersome. But that being said, the initial puzzles that you encounter follow a linear chronology that requires you to solve puzzles in fixed succession. While it makes the game feel too linear progression-wise, it keeps its plot-padding issues at bay.

Getting The Full Picture

In addition to resources such as health and ammunition, as well as clues that assist with puzzles, you will also discover more unique items. “Lagniappes,” which means “small gifts” in Louisiana French, are minor, non-essential items scattered throughout the game. Collecting three of them forms a set, and completing these sets will reveal forbidden knowledge and sometimes even more. Lagniappes are carried over from one game to the next. Since some sets cannot be completed without playing both Carnby’s and Emily’s campaigns, you will need to play the game at least twice to obtain the complete experience.

A basic playthrough (which lasts around 8-12 hours) with either Edward or Emily will result in the same ending for both characters, although the cutscenes will differ. However, if you complete certain sets of Lagniappes, you can unlock alternative endings in a second or third playthrough, which are unique to either Edward or Emily. Moreover, tucked away behind obscure Lagniappes and secret objectives lies an additional ending and even a secret cutscene.

Horror All-Stars

Alone in the Dark boasts an impressive ensemble led by the amazing performances of renowned Hollywood actors such as David Harbour and Jodie Comer. The dialogues are well-written, and the voice acting is captivating, but the facial animations are a tad bit lacking at times. The character models are intricately detailed and visually attractive. David, in particular, bears a remarkable resemblance to pulpy heroes, owing to his 1930s detective attire.

Thanks to its linear-level design, the game performs exceptionally well on lower-spec hardware. On my 3050Ti laptop GPU, I was able to run the game at an average of 70-80 FPS outdoors with high settings at 1080p. By the standards of 2024, these figures are quite remarkable for an Unreal Engine 4 game. However, there are occasional framerate drops when transitioning between maps, and the lighting can sometimes be uneven. It is strongly recommended that you play it on an SSD.

There were a couple of other technical issues, such as enemies being stuck in places and brightness problems when using HDR. Thankfully, the team has taken note of all these issues and is currently working on a Day 1 patch, which will likely resolve all of these at launch.

Finally, let’s tackle the significant issue – the cost. Although Alone in the Dark is positioned as an AA game, it carries a price tag of 60 USD, which is on par with the recently launched Outcast game. Considering the campaign’s duration, which can be completed in 8 hours when expedited, the pricing appears somewhat steep. Nevertheless, taking into account the quality and replay value of the content, the 60-dollar price seems almost reasonable. In essence, what you receive transcends a standard AA game but does not quite reach AAA status.

Real Talk

‘Alone in the Dark is an impressive reimagining of the original 1992 game, enhancing the premise in every conceivable way. It boasts a stellar cast, whose performances bring the story’s beats to life. The unlockable secret endings significantly enhance its replayability. Its highly customizable difficulty settings make it accessible to a broad mainstream audience. Minor issues such as clunky gunplay and movement can be easily overlooked given its superb atmospheric immersion and ambient soundscapes.

Final Rating: 80/100

Alone in the Dark (2024)

Alone in the Dark (2024)
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Alone in the Dark is a reimagining of the original 1992 Alone in the Dark and the seventh installment in the Alone in the Dark video game series. It is scheduled to release for PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S on 20 March 2024.
Alone in the Dark is a reimagining of the original 1992 Alone in the Dark and the seventh installment in the Alone in the Dark video game series. It is scheduled to release for PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S on 20 March 2024.
Total Score

The Good

  • Great Premise and Plot
  • Stellar Cast and Voiceacting
  • Atmospheric Environment
  • Great Visuals and Performance
  • Tweakable Difficulty for Puzzles
  • Multiple Playthroughs Unlock Secret Endings

The Bad

  • Clunky Gunplay and Movement
  • Slow-Texture Loading and Framerate Issues
  • Occasional Story Padding Issues
  • Pricing
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