Alone in the Dark is the type of game that doesn’t live up to its title. The one it so blushingly well represents at every turn and menu screen, just to remind you what you’re playing and make you feel guilty. The last Alone in the Darks from around a millennium ago are arguable the reason that survival horror exists today. In fact, it’s a fusion of old bits of dead genres such as the real adventure genre and many sparks of the zombie apocalypse pop culture. Quite frankly, this modern Alone in the Dark isn’t even Alone in the Dark. Its only relation to the previous games is the protagonist.
I know I often skip the plot as a lazy excuse such as “There’s no plot.” or “No plot be here.” or “LOL PLOT.”, but here… look what I have to work with. There’s a system in the game in which you can skip entire captures and get filled in on the action but its like tuning into Episode nine thousand of the longest running sitcom about talking marshmallows. All I could gather is that your Edward Carnby and you wake up in New York with amnesia. A cliche which seems to sort of run out of steam say… ten seconds into the game. I never paid attention to be honest, you might find more bite out of the story but I don’t care.
You control Carnby who has to get out of New York or something and get into Central Park to do something and I don’t know, I only got to the Sewers and then just gave up out of boredom. There’s no structure or design to this game, it just spawns enemies and checkpoints whenever it wants and teases you with its skipping system. It’s a bit like reading an awful book, except the book keeps reminding you that you can just skip this chapter. It’s just one giant set piece after another, which as they are, are somewhat close to stunning… but its like filling up a Star Wars movie with fodder dialogue and paper mache characters… oh wait.
What honestly lets the game down is its approach to realism. You obviously move Carnby with the left stick but the right stick is reserved for melee attacks. When you brandish any weapon and flail the stick around to dispose of your enemies, it looks like Edward is just flailing his arms around. Like he’s in an epileptic fit, except this is a survival horror video-game, not a documentary on disability. You can pretty much argue that the game wants you to flail your arms about, but you can also argue that I don’t care. If you asked me about this game in three years time I’ll just nod and won’t even bother to respond.
The climbing set pieces are the only highlight of this game but they are frustrating thanks to the god awful controls. The driving sections are also to blame, since its just about as much fun as sawing your arms off… with a spoon. What else can I nitpick on? Oh yes, the inventory screen. Throughout the game, you’ll pick up and assemble different items and be able to look around your inventory to combine and mix up the combos. Yes, there are a lot of inventions you can make but this just about falls flat on its face. In fact, this applies to the whole game in general.
This is the killer punch to the gut, which puts Alone in the Dark on its knees and not in a sexual satisfaction sort of way. What we get instead of a nice selection screen is a look inside Carnby’s jacket. Supposedly to promote the realism. To also push forward this propaganda further, it’s all done in real time, so whenever you want to whip your shotgun out, you have to scroll around your jacket and hope you click in time. Before the monster nom noms your goolies off. I got three hours into this game and didn’t even bother to make a proper judgement, it’s quite possibly the most frustrating game of all time.