Alone In the Dark

a game by Infogrames
Genre: Action
Platforms: Playstation 3, XBox 360, PC, 3DO
Editor Rating: 7.1/10, based on 5 reviews, 8 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.8/10 - 5 votes
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See also: Alone in the Dark Games, Visual Novel, Horror Games

Everything starts with an 'A'. This isn't strictly true but it sounds appropriate when you want to talk about an Artful, Atmospheric Adventure game. Alone In The Dark starts with an A'and was undoubtedly the adventure romp of 1992/93-Playing it was akin to reading a good book. Not a Jackie Collins 'Old-rich-tarts-get-shag-off-young-execs' type of good book, but an eerie horror-stroke-thriller, nail-biter of the Edgar Allan Poe kind. And better than a book, it was graphic and interactive: the mix between puzzle solving and arcade action was excellent and the animation was startling.

Although many games have harnessed these qualities, the difference with Alone In The Dark was atmosphere, a word much bandied about at the time. This was due to the spooky context-sensitive music, the vector-based graphics that gave the figures their odd angular features, the story which lent such depth to the characters and the old House On The Hill location in which it all took place. This atmosphere consumed the player, and when the car pulled away with the hero in the final scene, there was that mixed feeling of satisfaction and a deep regret that it had to end. And similarly, when you finish a novel by a favourite author and you know they are going to take at least a year to finish their next work, a kind of emptiness sets in. Well, finally that emptiness can be quashed as the most eagerly-awaited adventure game sequel, Alone In The Dark 2 is winging its way to the stores as you read this.

I won't waste any more of your time on over-long intros. I know everyone wants to know 'Is it as good as the first?' And yes, it most certainly is. 'Could it, perchance, be better than the first?' Is the Pope Catholic? Infogrames' programming and scripting team has been very busy indeed over the last 12 months, adding extra depth of gameplay (it is now twice as large) and sprucing up the graphics and game engine of what was surely the classic game of 1992. But before we get into the wealth of improvements, let's start with the plot.

The Untouchable

Scriptwriter Hubert Chardot had more than a mouthful of croissant to chew in tackling this sequel. For the uninitiated, Alone 1 was loosely based on the work of occult writer, H. P. Lovecraft (whose spooky stories also form the basis of Infogrames' other chart-topping adventure classic, Shadow Of The Comet). This gave rise to the creation of a house brimming with ghoulies and ghosties, pentangles and goggle-eyed monsters. Alone 2 continues with the occult theme, but this time it's all caught up in voodoo. The monster element is made up of a motley crew of 18th century pirates who made a pact with a voodoo witch in exchange for immortality. Still alive and kicking in 1924, the pirate leader, One Eyed Jack, and his henchmen are continuing their villainy in 1920s-style as bootleggers. All operations are run from Jack's mansion, Hell's Kitchen, off the coast of California. A lot of infamous racketeers were up to this sort of stuff during Prohibition and for anyone who was not a raving Bible basher, illegally selling alcohol was not the most heinous crime of the century. But One Eyed Jack is no A1 Capone or Dutch Schultz, so to keep his immortality he has to sacrifice a young girl every 100 years. This raises the evil crime stakes slightly and gives good reason for the extreme violence that is about to follow.

This is the premise of Alone 2. You play Private Investigator Edward Carnby (the same character as Alone 1) who gets a note from his pal, Striker, telling him that a young girl, Gracd Saunders, has been kidnapped and is being holed up at Hell's Kitchen. Alone 2 turns the strategy of its predecessor on its head. Instead of starting off in the house, finding a way to destroy it and getting the hell out, Carnby now needs to break in and rescue the girl.

Surviving long enough to achieve this aim is the difficult bit. The house is heavily guarded by zombie pirates who, in the 1920s setting, have shed their swashbuckling image for long overcoats, trilbies and pump-action shotguns. These are cocky, arrogant Anglo-Italian gangsters of the Untouchables era but, like any King of Crime's cronies, they're patsies really. Your job as Carnby is to find the correct way to mow down or avoid these muthas wherever possible. Some can simply be blown away; others need special attention.

As with Alone 1, the characterisations are intense. Infogrames doesn't just throw characters into a game without explaining their motivations. One Eyed Jack's crew are detailed in the literature you find on your travels (which will also reveal clues on how to kill them) and each creature is superbly sculptured from blow-pipe wielding chefs, machine gun/accordion-toting musicians and debonair karate experts. The leader of the pack, One Eyed Jack, and the black witch, Elizabeth Jarrett, also reveal their life-stories in a series of flashbacks which in the disk-based game appear as a set of 2D stills, although it is rumoured that in the cd-rom version these will be full animations.

Baby boom

The most startling difference in gameplay is in the choice of characters. Alone 1 gave the choice of playing as Carnby or Emily Hartwood for the womanly interest. Alone 2 gives no option, Carnby is the only ace in the deck. But the turning point comes when you are captured and start to direct little Grace, the girl kidnapped by One Eyed Jack. Grace is the only hope of survival and her mission is to find a way to free Carnby. This offers a new dimension to the gameplay as the too-too cute Grace can't perform the adult macho moves of Carnby and the game switches to a hilarious extended version of hide and seek between this gorgeous animated toddler and the ferocious zombies (see boxout on Grace vs Emily Hartwood).

Comedy plays a big part in Alone 2, from waddling chubby chefs and drunken ballerinas to Grace's teddy bear. But you'll have to discover them for yourself as some of the funniest scenes are in the solutions to the puzzles. One of the aspects which would have sold this game, had it been out before Christmas, is the Santa Claus suit. At a certain point in the game Carnby finds a Big Red Suit. By putting this on, some of the zombies will not attack you. Why? Because they're big kids at heart and still believe in Father Christmas.

Alone 2 is also stacked with film references - you find out that Eliot Ness has been on the tail of One Eyed Jack and that the new head of police for San Francisco is one Lieutenant Callaghan, otherwise known as Crazy Harry (aka Dirty Harry). And, I'm not sure about this one, but One Eyed Jack's was the gambling joint in David Lynch's surreal tv show. Twin Peaks. And as One Eyed Jack is also an inveterate gambler, surely this is more than just a mere coincidence.

Problem solved

Despite all my glowing praise for Alone 1, it did have its faults. It ran slowly and experienced puzzle-solvers felt it was a few puzzles short of the full shilling. Both problems have been eradicated in Alone 2. Fine tuning the game engine has made it run up to three times faster, and a substantial increase in size means the gamemap now includes a house, its environs and a pirate's ship. The speed is most notable on Alone Vs most irritating flaw, taking a trip up the apples and pairs. Old Edward Carnby (or Emily Hartwood) would do a painfully slow glide up or down stairs, best described as a zimmer-ffame shuffle. New Edward Carnby bounds up the stairways in proper, healthy, manly strides.

Even with an increase in size (at one point Infogrames thought the game was becoming so big they were going to split it into two instalments), Alone 2 has lost none of its prequel's tension. More rooms to explore equates to more dangers to encounter. And at no point do you feel the luxury of space. Each new environment from the maze to the ship is tight and claustrophobic, with dark corners that hide a cornucopia of nasties that will blast away at you at the drop of a hat. The improved speed has also allowed Infogrames' programmers to place more characters on screen simultaneously, so when blindly wandering around a corner you could run into up to five assailants. This has placed a premium on saving life points and bullets as five Tommy-gun toting gangsters cannot be fought off with a rolling pin. The extended gamemap has enabled more complex puzzles to be set as some objects may need to be gathered very early on for use a lot, lot later. Infogrames has also thought out the puzzlesolving element well, and all solutions make perfect sense. All answers are firmly planted under your nose so that when you finally solve the puzzle you feel a complete nonce for not sussing it out earlier.

Pulling faces

Infogrames knew full well that the acclaim garnered by their first creation was largely due to the atmosphere, and the improved game engine has allowed them to bolster the graphics considerably. Faces are more expressive, Carnby has many more moves and can even get pissed and reel around like an idiot; Grace has a completely different set of actions and villains don't just go up in puffballs anymore when you kill them, but can drop to their knees and keel over, slip over and get stuck in sticky substances. But the biggest atmosphere enhancer is the movement of 2D graphics behind and in front of the three dimensional action. This is rather unusual in a 3D game and the creepy movement of spiders, snakes and rats around you all adds tension to the spooky surroundings.

If you've played Alone 1, then I'm preaching to the converted; if you haven't, then I strongly urge you to buy both and play them in order. I'm not saying this because Infogrames is my best mate and sent me a case of brie and Beaujolais before I did this review - the truth is that Alone 2 is simply the best game in the adventure genre that you can buy. As PC was launched after the release of Alone 1, we never reviewed it. This has to be a good thing, as if I had rated it back then it wotild surely have been a classic and had a score of about 93.

Judging by this, the improvements in Alone 2, while keeping all of the original's atmosphere and enthralling storyline, means I have to give this one 97. When games are already in this bracket, extra points are much harder to come by, so the problem comes when Infogrames release Alone In The Dark 3 (in the pipeline for next year and will probably be set in a Wild West ghost town). Don't improve on it too much boys, as we'll have to invent a totally new scoring system.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve 1924 and washed-up private dick, Edward Camby wasn't feeling full of I goodwill. The telegram from Striker dropped on his doormat two days ago. Striker, a big man, not more than six feet tall and not wider than a beer truck, was convinced One Eyed Jack had kidnapped the Saunders girl. He was going up to Jack's coastal mansion to investigate. He hadn't been seen since. If there's one thing that turned Carnby's guts it was folk messing with children. Clutching his .38 and a bagful of explosives, Carnby chartered a cab to Hell's Kitchen. Jack and his cronies would get more than a sackful of presents down the chimney this Christmas.

  • 1

Carnby knew how to make an entrance. 20lbs of X-rated Acme TNT blew a kiss goodbye to the gates of Hell's Kitchen. The sentry degenerate pulled the short straw. His Yuletide surprise came unwrapped and blew up in his face. But Carnby spent his life mixing it with this kind of unearthly low-life. Experience showed green fellas don't take a pounding lying down.

  • 2

Ringing the bell on One Eyed Jack's door is no way to die of old age. World-weary Carnby ducked into the maze. But this was no Hampton Court. Behind every bush there was a zombie in a crombie packing a pump-action shotgun. Cocksure, the crones introduced themselves with a medium-pitched 'Good Morning Sir'. This was the clarion call to unload a heap full of Thompson shrapnel into their breasts. Tommy Guns make the grade but extra cartridges are sparse - don't waste 'em.

  • 3

The maze had more twists than a scenic railway but lady luck rolled a seven for Carnby. He stumbled across a card deck. One Eyed Jack was a notorious gambler and this theme runs throughout the game. 'Que signifie?' Laying a size nine gumshoe on the right suit must lead someplace but tread warily, a dud hand can lead to death.

  • 4

Carnby played the right hand and took a nosedive to the cellar. Secret passages and underground caverns were the staple diet of Alone 1 and the sequel turned out to be loaded with both. You can bet your last shot of bourbon for every clue down here, there'll be a blobby sourpuss on your tail. This pooch stood out like a kangaroo in a dinner jacket; others ain't so accomodating.

  • 5

The cellar was a dead end, deader than something very dead. Carnby headed back to the shrubbery. The statue looked as inviting as a four-day old chop suey that maggots call home. But it was time to drop the artillery and use the grey matter. Grappling hook plus rope plus statue. Carnby hooked up and 'open sesame'.

  • 6

The statue led to the cellars. The tub of lard in r the sharp suit was Striker. He was colder than an Eskimo's nose and plainly didn't get far on his quest for the kid. This proves to be bad news for One Eyed Jack. The stakes were raised and Carnby wasn't afraid of trouble. Trouble was his business.

  • 7

Inside, Carnby found a shooting gallery. It was a long narrow room, not very bright, not very cheerful. At one end two goons indulged themselves in much-needed target practice. Unfortunately, Carnby was the target. Sizing up the re-load time on their pump-action pistols, Carnby dropped his shoulder and threw some weight into his punch knocking them from here to Denver.

  • 8

Merry Christmas, Mr Carnby. There's more than one way to fool a zombie and dressing up as Chris Cringle proves the point. In Hell's Kitchen's kitchen Carnby Claus prepared to fry the fat guy in the chef's get-up. He knew this was just the beginning. He had Santa's Big Red Suit now, but these zombies weren't proving to be good or nice.

Download Alone In the Dark

Playstation 3

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

XBox 360

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

3DO

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

I Find It Very difficult to talk about Alone in the Dark without lapsing into an unashamed eulogy on the qualities of the game and how ground-breaking it is. But since I'm not the only reviewer who is utterly and hopelessly enamoured of the game, and since you will have heard it all half a dozen times before, I'll be good and deny myself the pleasure.

If you haven't heard of Alone In The Dark, I'll take it that you're new to pc games. It's a 3D arcade adventure loosely based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Playing either private investigator Edward Carnby or legatee Emily Hartwood, your task is to enter the mysterious old house, Decerto, to uncover the facts behind the strange death of the reclusive Jeremy Hartwood. While exploring the house, you come across more than you bargained for.

The revolutionary use of multiple 'camera angles' for each room, strange perspective and eerie music give this game about ten times more atmosphere than anything else I've played (oops, here I go again). Essentially, this is the same game as the floppy disk version, even down to the occasional minor graphics glitch. As a bonus though, Infogrames has included a mini game. Jack In The Dark featuring a little girl, Grace, one of the stars of Alone In The Dark 2. This is (a) really cute, and (b) seasonal, so it's bound to have been a big hit over Christmas.

In Many Ways, I should be grateftil to Alone In The Dark. Over the past few days of playing this horror action-adventure, it's forced me on innumerable occasions to go back and re-examine exactly why I play games. What is the point of this magnificent hobby? Why do we keep coming back for more? The simple answer is that no other medium gives you as much fun. We play games because they're the liest form of entertainment on the planet.

Lofty assertions aside, I can now explain why I'm emotionally and physically battered and bruised from hitting my fists on the desk, grinding my teeth, screaming at the screen and haranguing poor Will Porter about my liained experiences -AITD, for vast amounts of time, just isn't fun. That's the absolute core of it. There are moments of excellence, but they're consistently punctured by jaw-dropping ineptitude.

Fissures Of Men

AITD is a continuation of the HP Lovecraft-inspired series that set the standard for the whole survival horror genre Ixick in the early '90s. Paranormal investigator Edward Carnby returns as the lead character, although this time he begins his adventure in New York, with that old chestnut amnesia and a newly-discovered enchant for saying "fuck" a lot After escaping from a nasty antagonist called Crowley (clever eh?), Camby is then followed around an aiwrtment block by an evil force that cracks open the building, causing massive destruction and some truly awful dialogue - one girl actually says, "These fissures are hunting us!" This action is hectic, and fairly competently done, with rooms collapsing, walls breaking apart, people plummeting to the ground and physics-powered debris falling around you.

The first, and overwhelmingly major, problem you encounter is the game's control system - using the PC keyboard and mouse is virtually impossible. I don't mind using a key-plan for an RTS, but for a console-style action game? You use the standard W, S, A, D to move around in third-person (using the awkward old-style Resident Evil "rotate and move" system), but that switches to standard FPS movement when you press Tab to go into a first person view. To close your eyes and blink, use X; . a quick turn is Left Alt; H brings up healing mode; E is use, etc. As you progress, the game keeps you informed of the growing list of I commands, that change subtly in a different context, like when you're in a vehicle for example. However, in third person, you can't use a fire extinguisher to put out any blazes until you switch to first-person. The same goes for shooting enemies with the gun, or using the torch to fend off one of the game's swirling darkness monsters, both require using the first-person view. The health system is another example of a mechanic that is overly-complicated just for the sake of it. Instead of just having simple health packs that heal you, AITD has first aid sprays that you have to torturously use on every wound of your Ixxly in first-person view. If you cjet a major wound, you haemorrliage and have to find a bandage to wrap around the cut within seven minutes or you die, which is a classic example of semi-realism adding precisely no fun to a game.

The whole system is an utter mess - inconsistent, unintuitive and confusing. The developers obviously designed AITD to lie used on a console pad, so once you switch to an Xbox 360 controller it all makes much more sense - it's as if you've been trying to open a jar of pickled onions with . your feet, only to realise it might be less effort if you used your hands.

Drip-Fed Fun

After giving up with the mouse and keyboard, AITD begins to dribble out entertainment, and one of the best things I can say about the game is that you genuinely don't know what's going to happen next. One minute you're dangling from a rope over a lift shaft with fizzing electric cables, the next you're negotiating your way through a dank underground sewer system. AITD is structured like an episodic TV series, with each individual episode consisting of a number of sequences -and you can skip past aoy sequence. It's handy if you get stuck... and you will get stuck, but you sacrifice most of your weapons and items. And you will get stuck. I found myself skipping sequences at quite regular intervals, simply because in places the game is just ridiculously difficult, and also any death results in you being thrown back to the beginning of the level - don't expect quick saves here.

Another major disappointment are the enemies: after the story setup and visceral cracks appearing in walls, you're suddenly confronted by a bog-standard female zombie straight out of The Evil Dead. Other creatures are taken straight from Half-Life (headcrabs) or other horror shooters, such as Doom, all of which shows off the developers' desperate lack of imagination. Plus, their Al is average at best, as they lurch and make grabs for you, or simply turn away and stand still, as if all their hellish malevolence has finally tired them out.

Flame-Grilled

One of the major parts of AITD that the developers were keen to hype in previews is the ability to use objects in the environment as weapons.

On encountering a chair, for example, the context-sensitive Use button pops up with an option to pick it up, and using the right analogue stick, you can then swing it about to twat any nearby monsters, although it feels genuinely down to chance whether this works.

Fire is an example of something done well in the game - it looks good, spreads realistically, and if you're holding wooden objects, you can set them ablaze and use them to destroy any of Satan's underlings, on whom ordinary bullets have no effect. Objects can also be picked up and used to smash open doors that are locked, thrown at enemies, or combined in your inventory (shown by Camby opening his jacket) to create new uses. So, if you need a molotov cocktail, you combine a tissue or bandage with a bottle, then hold it in your left hand while using a Zippo lighter in your right. If it sounds faffy, that's because it is. You can assign favourite weapon setups to one of four hotkeys (or a separate menu on the 360 pad), but this doesn't work sometimes, so you have to then go back into the inventory during a battle (during which time you still get hit by enemies) and begin your Blue Peter "let's make something" session again.

Like much of AITD, the idea of creating DIY weapons is a good one, but it's badly implemented and awkward to use. Molotov cocktails explode in your hand if you don't throw them in time, which is another frustrating flourish. Again, semi-realism does not a good game make.

If you die in battle, you lose all your meticulous preparation work, and have to start again - and not everything can be picked up, so you often walk around trying desperately to find a wooden cudgel to set fire to, while a zombie spits blood at you. AITD feels as if Eden Games has actually decided to design elements of gameplay to specifically piss you off -well, maybe they did - time and time again. It manages to flout one of the most important rules of game design -the player should know that any death they suffer is their fault, and not the game. The platforming sections have no forgiveness, so you can just fall off the edge; a crack in the ground can appear and suddenly involve you in a fatal minigame that makes no sense; the switching between first and third-person means that your character can clumsily fall into an electrified patch of water, etc.

The list of hate gets longer the more you play. Take the driving model, which you'd think Eden Games could've got right, seeing as their main staple up to now has been racing games such as Test Drive Unlimited. Well, it's bloody awful. Cars handle like they're made of tin, and glitches mean they often get stuck when you're driving around the open-world sections of Central Park, or flip you over so you have to just get out and find another. On top of that you get stupid monsters that leap ridiculously through the air to land on your bonnet and punch you through the windscreen, which if you're trying to jump a chasm (a bit of a theme in AITD), disrupts the run up and sends you hurtling down the crevice to your doom.

Survival Horrible

AITD is a bag of pearls and vomit -occasionally featuring inventive ideas, but peppered with bad gameplay design decisions every desperate step of the way. Good: the Lost-style "Previously in..." edited sequences, the slick PDA gizmo, fire, the movie-style camera angles and orchestral soundtrack, the first time you bash open a door with a fire extinguisher, and some of the noncombat levels such as the atmospheric sequence in Room 943, that I won't spoil in case anyone buys the game and gets that far.

Bad: everything else. I was really looking forward to AITD, but it just ended up annoying me until I gouged the words "HATEFUL GAME" into my notepad. Unfortunately, that will be my lingering memory. I just hope I don't have nightmares...

The grandfather of all survival-horror games felt more like a dinosaur in its most recent console iterations (not to mention its craptastic movie). But Alone in the Dark's next-gen debut should be chilling. The game's story revolves around Edward Carnby's investigation of paranormal elements linked to the afterlife, but the setting--New York City's Central Park, which is already full of fright at night--is paramount. "People will feel disrupted because this game happens where people usually feel at peace," says Producer Nour Polloni. "It's a city in the city, and we wanted to create a myth around Central Park and raise the question of why there is such a vast space right in the middle of one of the most densely populated cities in the world." And, surprisingly, creepy creatures won't be the catalysts for all of the scares here. "One of the approaches we're using to create fear is to work on people's phobias," says Polloni. "Like fear of heights, suffocation, animal bites, and drowning. Those things that paralyze them from reacting."

DUSTY OLD MANSIONS, fog-filled towns, insane asylums--been there, not so scared of that anymore. The repetitive nature of survival-horror settings is killing the fright factor in videogames, which is why we're looking forward to Alone in the Dark's unexpected backdrop: New York City's Central Park. Even the Big Apple's craziest kooks are afraid of the spooks that lie within its 843 acres, especially when night falls. And after recently learning more about the game (which is a series reboot), we can say the locale isn't the only surprise in store.

It's episodic: While so many games look to the silver screen for inspiration (and pale in comparison), AlTD's structure takes a page from hit TV series like Lost and 24. Each level will essentially act as an episode (the disc will contain around 11, each consisting of 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes of gameplay), complete with plot twists and cliff-hangers. Oh, and you know those times where you put a game down for a while, only to come back and totally blank on what happened previously or what you're supposed to do next? That won't be a problem here. "A ‘coming next' trailer plays when you leave the game at the end of the episode to tease you into wanting more," says Producer Nour Polloni of developer Eden Games. "Then, the previous trailer plays when you come back to help you get back into the story." Also, Eden isn't ruling out offering additional episodes (via download) after the game ships.

It's hot: As you guide Edward Carnby (yes, the same paranormal investigator from the 1992 original) through Central Park, it'll be important to bring out his inner pyromaniac. And whether you're torching stacked-up furniture, wooden roofs, or the game's evil forces, "fire will behave as it does in real life," says Polloni. "It'll propagate in real time across flammable surfaces and objects, moving at different speeds depending on the material." It's got an olfactory bulb: "Enemies can detect you with a full range of senses--including, of course, sight and sound, but also smell," says Polloni. This unique characteristic (at least for game A.I.) does give AlTD's fuglies a leg up when hunting you down, but you'll find instances where you can actually turn it against them. "This lets you actually bait enemies," says Polloni, "with blood trails or a cadaver, which can prove to be very useful."

It's got air-conditioning: Even though most of your time will be spent on foot, you can also hop into vehicles to get around NYC's sprawling recreation area. These aren't the typical videogame rides, though--AlTD's cars come fully loaded with working radios, heat, and AC. More importantly, these features will factor into gameplay. "You won't be turning on the radio for hits of yesteryear," says Polloni. "You'll be picking up distress calls, for example, which can give you useful information like meeting points for survivors. And if it's a cool night in New York City, the heater could come in handy getting that frost off the vehicle's windshield."

Derceto, with its steeply angled roof and sinister appearance, guards in--its basement the secrets of Astarte, the goddess of fertility to whom the house was dedicated. The owner of this mysterious building, Jeremy Hartwood, died a few days ago. The police report concluded that he had taken his own life. Derceto is now empty. Rumors abound of a curse or of an evil power dwelling within its walls. For some days now a cloud of doubt has hung over your mind. What are those lights inside the house at nightfall? What could account for the eerie noises? Why did Jeremy commit suicide? And what compels you toward the house? What is Derceto's secret?

THE GOOD

I like the impressive animation and the fact that you can move almost anywhere in the house.

THE BAD

The fighting sequences need to be refined a little because the controls lag.

THE UGLY

The game is a great horror story. Some players may even get a few chills running up their spine.

Alone in the Dark is kind of like Out of This World meets The 7th Guest. Kind of, we said. It lumbers along with a polygon-animated, horror-under-the-floorboards theme.

Home Alone

Alone in the Dark is a new virtual-reality ghost hunter that takes place in the deserted mansion of Jeremy Hartwood. Hartwood took his own life, leaving behind a legacy of horrible puzzles that you must solve.

You play as either Emily Hartwood, Jeremy's niece, or Edward Carnby, a private detective. The action takes place in the mid-1800s, which lends the game a Victorian feel. Once you establish who the protagonist is, the rest of the game involves solving riddles, finding dues, knocking off a few undead creatures, and basically getting your butt out of the house in one piece.

Some amenities that help you on your quest include a shotgun, a bow, and mirrors. You open chests, break vases, and serve as the maitre'd at a Ghoul Banquet, to name a few scenarios.

The action is linear, which means you can't progress until certain items are found in order. This tight restriction makes for a very formal, less adventurous game. Then again you'd expect that sort of conservatism in Victorian times.

Lonesome Looks

The sparse polygon-based graphics offer minimal detail. While the game shoots for a more realistic 3D effect, it produces only silly-looking, quirky-moving monsters. Maybe this haunted house is on Sesame Street.

The sounds fare better than the graphics. Weird moaning, zombie laughter, and occasional hands-around-the-throat screams instill the right mood. There's very little music, but what's there does enhance the scenes.

Controlling your character is as hard as getting Queen Victoria to do the Hustle. The sprites' syrupy movements affect your ability to react in crisis situations, especially when you're facing more than one monster.

Alone Again... Unnaturally

Alone in the Dark is for gamers who want a little puzzle, a little challenge, and lots of hang time. While the action is nothing to write home about, you'll marvel at the use of fully animated polygons and 3D views. The problem is, after that you'll be all Alone.

ProTips:

  • If you read the fable in the attic correctly, these two gargoyles should have a problem with mirrors. Try the end tables for placement.
  • Instead of fighting the two monsters in the attic, move the cabinet to cover the window and move the trunk to cover the trapdoor. Do it fast, because both monsters show up quickly.
  • You don't have to tight every monster If you shut the doors quickly enough.
  • Check the bookshelf in the attic for a hit-or-myth clue.
  • Sometimes finding a clue Isn't enough-you have to search the clue for dues. What's inside the flask?
  • Check every possible container In the vicinity before and after a sequence of events, such as a fight

The award-winning PC game comes to 3DO with all its excitement intact. The story line involves a suspicious suicide, a chilling curse, and an evil power. This one-player game features fast polygon graphics, 3D control of your character, and zooming and panning techniques seen in movies. Unlike the computer version, the 3DO version uses digitized speech.

Snapshots and Media

3DO Screenshots

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PC Screenshots

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