A terrifying exercise in piss-poor gameplay leads to my least definitive review ever.
A year ago, I had picked up Alone in the Dark to review for another website I was contributing to. My aim for the website was to basically cover particularly bad games for the PlayStation 2. Despite finishing such masterpieces like, American Chopper, American Idol and 24: The Game, Alone in the Dark was the first game I had to put back in the case and return it to the shelf.
It’s not that this game is worse than any of those titles because it’s really not, but it’s first impression is just so bad I could see even experienced gamers giving up before the story even begins.
This is partially due to the fact the game seems to lean on it’s brand heavily from the get-go, leaving virgins to the series, like myself, more than a little fucking lost immediately.
The AitD series is rich with history and a cult classic among older gamers, which makes this entry all the more disappointing since it seems to have been a blown opportunity with the next generation of players.
The game starts off with you awaking as a bleary eyed, amnesiac, protagonist. Some presumed bad guys are talking shit to you and an old priest and then quite loudly, decide to kill you. As you are being escorted up to the rooftop by an armed henchmen, some invisible monsters blow up a door and waste your captors. You, not knowing what the hell is going on, start running through a burning building.
All in all, an okay start but the learning curve is steep. Controls are hard to handle and sometimes make no sense with absolutely no instructions. Also, you’ll find you have next to no idea where to head. Which can work for games if they make the prompts to continue bold and easy to see when you explore your surroundings. Which they do not. Often times requiring the most perfect alignment of a camera angle to display a prompt.
You might have guessed this by now but they do not give you anything easy in this game. Punishing you for even playing it.
This first hour of gameplay was an exercise in pure, unadulterated, self-inflicted, madness. I probably died close to 25 times, restarting a non-skippable cut scene over and over each time. In December of 2020 this was surely enough to stop me in my tracks and put the game away. Decide it’s not worth it, why dedicate time to something so poorly done?
But, your boy has only devolved, growing more stubborn each year so I barreled through. Persevering for both myself and my two faithful, regular readers. An act both useless and non consequential. But what else is this site, anyways??
With all that said, this game does do some things really well. It’s innovative and creative. The developers took chances and sometimes it paid off. For one, you have the choice between first and third person which I enjoy. Survival horror in first person just always feels better. More intense.
Secondly, the environment is interactive, allowing you to pick up chairs to smash zombies, fire extinguishers to knock down doors, a propane flame thrower to burn walls around you down and more. The healing and inventory menus are super cool too, all in first person you can check your inventory by opening your leather jacket – which seemingly has 400 pockets but whatever and healing yourself requires you looking over your own body, sanitizing and dressing wounds.
There are just as many good things about this game as there are bad. Which puts me in a weird place because I strangely do like this game. It’s all a matter of accepting how bad it is, and therefore being allowed to enjoy it completely.
Typically, games I enjoy at the beginning are dull and boring by the end. Most of the time the story is dragged out too long and I complain about it over-staying but quite the opposite is true with, Alone in the Dark.
The longer I played the game, the more I happened to enjoy it, finding it easier and easier to ignore it’s quirks and shortcomings. Once you do finally master the shitty gameplay, the story begins hitting its stride and it’s pretty easy to breeze through.
Thus, I am grateful I took a shot and gave this title another chance and while not feeling comfortable enough to recommend it to anyone myself, I, myself have become a believer – hating myself for loving it and loving myself for hating it – so – while I’m saying definitely don’t spend money on this title – I am also saying there is a 40% chance you are going to love it.