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Alone In The Dark

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Written by DM on Sunday, June 29 2008

You may not know this, my faithful readers, but Alone In The Dark, way back in 1992, was one of the first games to “fire the opening salvo,” as it were, for an entire genre. While the actual name “survival horror” was not used until the legendary Resident Evil in 1996, it was Alone in the Dark that established most of the game play conventions and now-cliché protocols that you can find in any game in the genre. You would think that after creating almost an entirely new genre, Alone in the Dark would go on to certain stardom. Unfortunately, almost every AITD sequel was mediocre at best, and then Resident Evil came along with its Living Dead-esque atmosphere and storyline and stole the show. Once Silent Hill was added to the mix to provide actually disturbing and frightening material (basically the other side of the horror genre), Alone in the Dark was all but forgotten. Throw in a horrible Uwe Boll motion picture that starred Tara Reid, and Alone in the Dark became a punch line. Now, Atari has decided to resurrect the franchise with the release of the fifth installment. Gamers are wary and do not want to get burned again, so I am here to tell you if you should play with fire or not.

Alone in the Dark, thankfully, is not a remake, re-imagining, or re-hash of the original game, as so many developers have given us lately. This is a good thing, folks. What this game does do, is take the protagonist of the series, Edward Carnby, and plops him down in a new setting: The Big Apple. New York City’s Central Park in contemporary times is the setting for this new game, which does provide a bit of a chronological issue with the franchise’s storyline. If this is the same Carnby we know and love, the setting in AITD08 would make him about 100 years old. As you will see when you play, apparently Ed is very spry for a 100+ year old man. But seriously, how do the writers deal with this huge plot hole? Amnesia, of course, the lazy writer’s best friend!

The game’s first level is, quite honestly, the best part of the game, or at least one of them. When you begin, you find yourself trapped inside a building that is literally ripping itself apart at the seams. Some malevolent force is tearing through the walls, floors, and anything else not nailed down. This “force” opens fissures throughout the structure, and sometimes it even swallows up a human. If this happens, there is a chance that said swallowed human will return to attack you a la “Living Dead Zombie” style, so take note. Sometimes the possessed even want to have a chat before you dispatch them, imagine that! As you progress through the first level you will have to deal with these zombie residents, guards, and anyone else who picked that day, of all days, to be inside the building.

Story-wise, there is not much to be had when the game begins. You wake up on a cot in a room with three black-hooded men. These men are visibly shaken by the current situation, but they still have the wherewithal to try to lock you and another prison into a makeshift cell. Well, no cell can hold Christian Slater, err I mean Edward Carnby! The evil entity actually gives you your escape opportunity, and the game begins.

As you navigate the building, the tips that come up will teach you how to use your character, and how to play the rest of the game. The great thing about Alone in the Dark is that it really does try to innovate when it comes to control. The great thing about it is that the inventory and non-movement related controls actually do provide somewhat of a fresh approach for a survival horror game. Unfortunately, it is overshadowed by the cliché and hard to use movement system.

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Alone In The Dark

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