Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare
Infogrames has been working on this one for a while now (we first saw it at E3 two years ago), but all that time in development seems to be paying off. While the PlayStation version is quite impressive in its own right, the DC edition of AitD is absolutely stunning. Yes, these are real screenshots. The DC's buttload of VRAM allows for super hi-res backgrounds without the dithering found in the PS version. The DC version also provides real-time shadows, better lighting effects, and detailed character models with over three times as many polygons as the PS game. Developer Darkworks is putting the screws on this one for a first-quarter 2001 release.
Download Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare
Aline Cedrac found an ancient Abakanis Indian statue, but it has been stolen and she has hired Charles Fiske to find out what happened to it. Unfortunately, Charles has been found dead near Shadow Island, where rich industrialist Alan Morton has a huge mansion. So now it's up to Fiske's partner, Edward Carnby, to uncover the horrifying truth of why his partner is dead and what happened to the statue. He will have to travel to Shadow Island, where he will face his worst nightmare alone in the dark.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is an action/puzzle game set in a 3D environment. As with most games of this style, the interface is a little complicated at first but you will pick it up as you play and it becomes quite simple to manipulate. The game is broken up into explore mode, battle mode, and inventory mode.
As Edward, you will walk around, screen by screen, to different locations where you'll fight off monstrous creatures and solve puzzles. There's a good mix of both, although you'll spend most of your time exploring and solving puzzles. You can tell that a good chunk of the cartridge's memory was taken up with background graphics, which means there was less to put into the puzzles. Although there are a good amount of puzzles, most aren't very challenging, as the item you need to solve the puzzle is usually pretty close by, hiding somewhere, and most are pretty obvious solutions. Less seasoned puzzle players will find these a good challenge. As you roam Shadow Island, you'll find many items that will be of use to you. And yes, everything is used somewhere -- after it's no longer useful it'll disappear from inventory. You'll also find that many areas are simply inaccessible at any time during the game -- best I can guess is that they exist in versions of the game on other platforms but had to be pulled for this one. Moving around each screen is simple, just push the D-pad in the appropriate direction. If you can't go somewhere, the character won't go there. You can also examine or pick up items by pressing the B button. You'll need to examine everything and you will find that although there is a lot to look at, you won't necessarily need everything you examine.
When you enter a room that has monsters you'll get a quick cut-scene to get you prepared and then the view changes to more of a A?-style to get a better perspective. I particularly liked this as I often have trouble in these types of games with the perspective while fighting (Game Boy Color's limited memory saves the day!). I found the aiming to be somewhat temperamental since hitting those corners on the D-pad and leaving Edward facing in that direction can be slightly frustrating. Also, Edward moves slower than normal in these scenes and the weapon you're holding will also affect this too. During the battles you have access of up to three different weapons. You start with a revolver and some ammo, but later can acquire a more powerful shotgun and a crossbow. Ammo can be found around the island and also in some battle scenes too. One aspect of the game I wasn't happy with is that you cannot ever escape a battle scene -- you must fight and win to get out. This becomes quite the problem if you run out of ammo and since ammo is limited, you need to conserve and be very careful.
The enemy AI isn't really very smart, but since the enemies are usually as fast as you, if they get close it's hard to outrun them. The puzzles are somewhat challenging and will get the player's brain working without too much frustration to solve, though.
Inventory mode is, well, where you see your inventory. You can take a closer look at certain items such as journal pages and the map. You can also see what weapons you have available as well as the amount of ammo for each. If there's no description for something you can pretty much bet that you'll use it somewhere else.
One feature that I really liked about this game is that you can save anytime you want. When you first start the game you can choose one of three different save slots. I'd suggest saving early and often, as you never know what will happen next.
Well, this is an interesting topic for this game. They're both good and bad. The backgrounds are very nice for a GBC game and you can tell that this is where the bulk of the cartridge's memory is used. There aren't a whole lot of bright colors, which is to be expected in a game as this. I was impressed with how bright the screens are, in that you can see things well (assuming you can see the GBC screen well). The problem with the backgrounds is that there is so much detail on a screen that can't handle it all that well so you end up thinking, 'what is that blobbish thing anyway?' I found that squinting helped. Most of the icons you pick up are icons until you look in inventory. The inventory and cinematic cut-scenes both have nice art all around and, again, it's impressive for a GBC game. Since the game is attempting to pull off a 3D environment, when Edward walks around he is scaled. This means that when he gets closer to you he also gets very blocky. Actually, on first glance I thought Edward looked like a wonderful rendition of one of the apes from the original "Planet of the Apes." There are some screens where they tried to skew the camera angle and he looks even worse -- fortunately there aren't many of those.
I found that sounds and music were very limited. I'd guess this is most likely due to much of the cartridge's memory being used up with graphics. There are some ambient sounds on some screens and while they aren't the greatest, they're fitting for the various environments you're in at the time. The music is appropriate, but dull, droning, and repetitive. The music is mostly heard during cut-scenes.
I was surprised at how simple the manual is considering how complicated the game is (complicated for a GBC game anyway). Most everything you need to know is explained and most of the rest will be explained throughout the game. There are a couple things that are left to question such as the display showing how much ammo remains (which is not explained, but you'll figure it out if you're smart enough to be playing this game in the first place).
Originality / Cool Features
While this style of game may not be so much original in the grand scheme of video gaming these days, it is pretty original on the GBC platform. Yeah, there are different rooms to explore and such, like so many other games, but the viewpoint changing from room to room and the detail of the backgrounds give it a much different feel than a game such as Zelda.
I hate these kinds of games, they just aren't my cup of tea. I grudgingly accepted the game for review and in the end I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed solving the puzzles and the battle scenes weren't bad at all (I've been scarred by these and camera angles on other higher end gaming systems). Everything was reasonable to manage yet challenging enough to be fun. I found the game overall was easier than I anticipated, but fans of the Alone in the Dark series or any games in this genre will probably enjoy it (although probably not nearly as much as the versions on the higher end systems). Even if you don't prefer the genre, but do like action/puzzle style games, Alone in the Dark may be worth checking out which is why I give this game a score of 85.
In the unforgiving world of the paranormal, a lone man may muster the strength to push back the darkness so that light may have a chance to shine. Edward Carnby is one such man, a private eye of the paranormal, seeking revenge against the creature who murdered his best friend Charles Fiske. After Carnby searches Fiske’s apartment downtown he stumbles across a tape recording left for him explaining an investigation Fiske was working on, at the heart of the mysterious Shadow Island. Carnby contacts one of his fellow detectives, Frederick Johnson, and asks him to take over the investigation that led to Fiske’s demise.
Before Carnby has opportunity to continue his investigation Johnson introduces Aline Cedrac, a young University professor who specializes in ancient Native American dialect. Together they must find three ancient tablets of unknown origin and translate the undecipherable inscriptions. On the flight to Shadow Island Carnby explains his reasons for accompanying Aline to the island. Aline also reveals that she too has personal reasons for going to the island but doesn’t elaborate. As the pilot announces that he is preparing to land, a strange unknown force attacks the seaplane. Carnby and Aline are forced to abandon the aircraft and both of them parachute to safety.
Carnby has the fortune to land safely in an abandoned yard while Aline narrowly misses death and descends atop of the roof of a vast mansion. Once the two of them grasp what has happened, Carnby radios the frantic Aline to see if she is all right. Aline decides that the whole mission is a bust and insists that Carnby locate her immediately so that they can attempt to leave the island. As the two of them wander the dark corners of the island they begin to unfold the truth of the evil that has been unleashed upon Shadow Island.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
After you watch the credits, you’ll start the game with a spectacular cut-scene that gives you a detailed idea why both of the main characters decide to take a trip to an island filled with untold evil. Once you’ve soaked in the entire plot you’ll have the option to select Edward Carnby, the regal private eye, or Aline Cedrac, the high-spirited University professor. After you’ve made your decision, you're thrown right into the game of paranormal horror in a race to survive against impossible odds.
As most survival horror games go you’ll have a number of vital choices to make that will determine whether or not you make it off the island. As you venture into the game, you’ll have to solve complex puzzles to open secret doors so that you may continue your adventure further into the darkness. You must keep your eyes open and stay alert throughout the game since it is quite easy to accidentally miss a clue that would have assisted in solving one of the puzzles. By far the mystery of what lies ahead is one of the most interesting features you’ll have to solve.
To aid you in your adventure, each character has a few pieces of equipment that will be necessary to complete their goals. One of the most important pieces of equipment you have in a survival horror game is your sidearm. Carnby has a sidearm at the start, which will be put to good use, but Aline has the misfortune of having to acquire one later in the game. As a note to those of you starting with Carnby, for the benefit of beginning the game with a firearm, you should save your ammo as much as you can since ammo is scarce throughout the game.
Another helpful piece of equipment is the flashlight that both characters have at the start. You may use the flashlight to either uncover hidden equipment or you may use it to repel certain monsters that you’ll run into. One of my personal favorite items is the radio that you may use if you need a clue on what to do next. One of the final items that will help you throughout the game are the Charms of Saving, which I have found are quite handy since you can save the game anywhere you like with them. Once you have mastered how to use each one of these items you will have no problem finishing the game.
Before you can conquer the forces of darkness you must understand how to survive on the island. Once in a while you may find that before you venture into another room your controller may start to buzz, this is an early warning system alerting you that there is danger ahead. Another trick you may use to your advantage is that creatures have a pattern of attack, once you discover what that is you’ll have no problem dealing with them. Whenever you go over an area with your flashlight you may see an object that sparkles, this indicates that you may interact with it. Each one of these techniques will help you progress further in the game so that you may survive long enough to uncover the mystery of the island.
One of the better features of the game was the fine quality of graphics presented. I was thrilled by the application of light to darkness with the use of the characters' flashlights. It gave the game more of an ominous feel, since it was difficult to perceive oncoming monsters without the use of the flashlight. The scenery was also a nice addition to the horror movie feel and really brought out how hopeless the characters' situation was. Each cut-scene was well thought out, making me want to advance the game further so I could unveil the mystery of the island. Each scene was a marvelous sight to behold, giving a flavor to the game that everyone will enjoy.
From the darkness come chilling screams of utter horror which will leave you shivering in a corner. That is exactly how I felt as I went further into discovering what lay deep into the lost passageways of Shadow Island. If you enjoy watching all the gore in this game, the sounds that you are subjected to will only add to your delight. The suspense that builds with the help of appropriate theme music and then is finally released by a blood-curdling scream will keep you coming back for more. You will continually feel that at any second some bizarre creature is going to jump out of the darkness to gobble you up.
Alone in the Dark is a twisted tale that has been forged from the most frightening of nightmares and brought right into your own home. You will find yourself utterly involved with two unlikely heroes who must retain whatever sanity they have left to solve the mystery of the island and escape from the clutches of the ever-approaching evil. With eye-popping graphics and outrageous sound effects, Alone in the Dark excels at creepy at being creepy. If you don’t already own a copy, I suggest you race down to the nearest outlet and purchase one.
Edward Carnby is back! The supernatural detective finds himself trapped on an island surrounded by creepy crawlies (what’s new?) and facing what could be his most dangerous investigation yet. This time Carnby teams up with anthropologist Aline Cedrac in what starts out as a mission of revenge.
It seems Carnby’s longtime friend Charles Fisk has taken a case against his better judgment and ended up as worm food. Carnby, angry at his friend but burning with vengeance, loads up his double-barreled pistol and heads off to a mysterious island where Cedrac hopes to decipher and study some ancient Indian tablets (she’s also on the hunt for her long-lost father). But before they get to the island, their small plane is attacked under cover of night and both must parachute to safety. Carnby lands on the grounds of a sprawling estate while Cedrac lands on the roof of a huge mansion.
And so the game begins... Play as either Edward Carnby or Aline Cedrac and enter a world of survival horror, trying to escape the ancient evil that has lain dormant for centuries -- until now.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Which came first? Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil? The answer is Alone in the Dark, of course. Debuting on the PC in 1993, the original was an international success, relying on innovative gameplay and a scarier-than-hell plot (well, it was scary back then). But does Part Four tap into the same fearful places? In this reviewer's opinion, the answer is both yes and no.
The ground floor rules of any survival horror game, of course, is that you get the bejeebers scared out of you.AitD is no exception. I made it a point to play only at night with the lights off for full effect -- and boy, did that work. I felt the little hairs stand up on my neck as the game progressed. My 80-pound dog sleeps at my feet when I’m on my computer; when he stood up and brushed my leg I literally had to turn off the computer and quit playing for the night. Of course, I really enjoy being scared; if you don’t, play it during the daytime. Along with that, the disturbing tomes you must find and read add to the overall creepiness of the game. The readings aren’t quite as effective as the ones from Clive Barker’s Undying, but they do add an extra element to the game, not to mention the clues found within their pages. This is not a game for someone who doesn’t like to read.
As you progress through the game, it becomes more and more evident that AitD and Resident Evil are close cousins. The puzzles are never very difficult and usually involve getting a key of some sort (especially in the early puzzles). I must admit that the challenges were never very challenging -- find a collection of ancient Indian statues scattered around the house in order to help the last shaman of a long-dead tribe conduct a ritual that will stop impending doom. This is a tired and often used formula. On a positive note, each character comes equipped with a flashlight -- and in some cases, items and clues can only be found by pointing the flashlight in a general area. Sometimes this means turning off the lights in the room you are in, a welcome and pleasant addition.
Alone in the Dark (AitD) features the same fixed camera angle as the Resident Evil series. Each location your character enters is viewed from some quirky angle that has always reminded me of Sam Raimi’s Evil Deadmovies. One location has the camera looking down a long hallway where your character gets smaller and smaller as you walk, while another is viewed from a bird’s-eye view. I have always liked these visual angles, as they seem to fit well with the subject matter.
It’s important to mention the movement controls: while playing, the forward button always makes your character move forward, whether it’s straight at you or walking to the right of the screen. I played this game using the Microsoft game pad. I recommend using some sort of game pad to play, as it is much easier than using the keyboard controls.
I was disappointed with the game's combat factor. As with ALL games of this type, there is never enough ammunition to deal with the monsters that appear in the game. But unlike Resident Evil, when you kill a bad guy in AitD, it respawns when you exit and re-enter the room. I found this unacceptable. Of course you can always run from your enemies, but most of the time running is not an option -- which brings me to another point. The weapons used in this game do not do the type of damage they should. Case in point: while exploring, you eventually find a triple-barreled shotgun. Three shells are fired simultaneously each time you squeeze the trigger. Think about the kind of damage a regular shotgun does, and triple it. Now imagine having to have to shoot a zombie three times with this weapon in order to stop it. Three times three is nine -- nine shotgun shells fired at a zombie from a distance of no more than 10 feet. In real life this firepower would chew a polar bear in half, but in this game it barely dispatches a six-foot zombie. I don’t care if it’s infused with pure evil; not even zombies can walk if they’re blasted into two separate parts. This aspect of the game was really frustrating. Don’t even get me started on the grenade launcher.
Continuing on, there are a number of cut scenes with Carnby and Cedrac that help the flow of the narrative; sometimes they automatically call each other with handheld radios, and other times you can select the radio in your inventory and make a manual call. This brings me to my next point. The first part of the game involves Carnby finding and freeing a trapped Aline Cedrac. Aline calls Carnby several times, clearly scared out of her mind -- but when he eventually finds her, the first thing she wants to do is split up again to explore what is clearly a monster-infested house. I don’t know about you, but if I were trapped in a house filled with monsters and zombies, I wouldn’t leave the side of the only person carrying a gun. But I guess you can’t do that, since it breaks the predictable rules of all survival horror games. Just once, I would like to see a game of this genre portray people reacting as they would in real life -- cowering in a corner, running like an Olympic sprinter, picking up a chair and bashing it over the bad guys' heads. Sadly, AitD is just more of the same.
Finally, the game had a lot of short load times such as when walking from room to room. It was certainly nothing I couldn’t handle, but it started to irritate me after a while. This, and the several freeze-ups I experienced while playing, left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. I hoped there was a patch, but could not find one.
Alone in the Dark features some of the best graphics in the horror genre. Locales look creepy and the whole flashlight aspect of the game comes across sharp and clear. As far as the monsters go, I’m split; some looked really good and genuinely freaked me out, while others were the same old crap seen in other horror games.
I’ve spoken with a few other people who have played the game, and while some really enjoyed the twisted synthesizer sounds that pierced through the speakers, others couldn’t handle the soundtrack. I personally liked the music as it added a disturbing element to the game and made some scenes almost unbearable (remember, I played this game at 1:00 a.m. in an empty house). The monster sound effects never really creeped me out and the voice acting was mostly tedious.
Windows 95/98, Pentium 266 MHz or higher, SVGA graphics card 4X or faster, 32 MB RAM, DirectX 6.1.
Alone in the Dark was made for die-hard fans of the series and those who are new to the genre; casual survival/horror gamers will be hard-pressed to find anything new as far as gameplay goes. I wasn’t overly impressed with the weak storyline and drab voice acting, but I must give kudos to any game that scares the hell out of me. If it weren’t for that, this game would easily rate a 65. If you like getting scared and have a game pad (very important), this is the game for you. It's rated Mature -- not for younger players.
With writers like Poe, Shelley, Stoker, King, Koontz and Barker dominating movies and bookstore shelves, H.P. Lovecraft has never gained his rightful notoriety. Writing in the 1920s, this Rhode Island author produced works featuring eldritch gods and truly unspeakable horrors in his short, sickly and unbelievably depressing life. Interest in Lovecraft was reawakened partially by the paper-and-dice role-playing game Call of Cthulhu, and its success made some sort of computer game inevitable. (Incidentally, the writer of The 7th Guest, Matthew Costello, has written several Call of Cthulhu adventures.)
Instead of a dry, math-laden RPG, French designer Infogrames decided that a full-screen, animated graphic adventure was the only way to convey the horror Lovecraft inspired. The result, Alone in the Dark combines 3-D polygon animated graphics, arcade action, challenging puzzles and enough cinematic technique to astound anyone bored with conventional haunted house adventures.
Alone players may select Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood to investigate Derecto, the abandoned home of the late Jeremy Hartwood. Their goal: to discover why he committed suicide. But they'll soon discover that, had Jeremy waited a little longer, he wouldn't have had to do the job himself.
Both characters are rendered in 3-D filled-polygon graphics and are controlled by simple keyboard strokes. Arrow keys guide movement and attacks, while the space bar controls other actions.
Alone adjusts the frame rate according to the machine's speed, so the game is playable--though combat is far more difficult--on the suggested minimum 386 SX. Even at its worst, this is some of the best animated movement since 4-D Boxing.
As they explore the house, players must solve a series of puzzles and either fight or avoid the eldritch nightmares prowling the corridors. Weapons have a bad habit of containing limited ammunition and/or simply breaking. In addition, the better weapons look much better, making it especially difficult not to use the shotgun just to watch the movements. Anyone who suffered through Out of This World frustrating combat and timing requirements will be pleased to learn that the combat learning curve is tough, but not impossible. Similarly, the puzzles are difficult yet fair, with clues scattered in various texts and even in the cultural implications of certain items.
In electronic gaming, "cinematic" invariably means a noninteractive interlude--but not here. Each room is equipped with several "cameras" that are automatically selected to provide the maximum of atmosphere and playability. As any horror film fan knows, it's critical to maintain interest and tension when the screen is monster-free, and the best way is through creative camera angles. Even walking through a straight hall is made interesting through the rapidly changing perspective.
Alone's music is spooky but in need of a little more variation. Digitized sound effects include creaking floors and doors, firearms and screams that are delightfully disturbing, especially through the Disney Sound Source.
Problems? The polygon graphics could have been a bit less goofy, and occasionally the computer gets confused about what's blocking what. As for the difficulty level, players should be grateful that the story line isn't truer to form. Anyone who's lived to see the end of an H.P. Lovecraft story rarely retains mental and emotional stability. Players who see the end of the game will, however, walk away with the satisfaction of having finished one of the best games this year--no matter what genre it gets stuffed into.
Looking at these screens, the first thing that comes to mind is, "That's on GBC?!" The answer is an emphatic "Yes." Whether the final version will be able to handle the slated background and sprite scaling smoothly while retaining its high-quality appearance remains to be seen, but the game looks fantastic so far. Let's hope AITD succeeds where the fabled Game Boy Color version of Resident Evil failed.