Hey everyone! Has there ever been a point when you’re looking through your gaming library and wondered, “Huh, I wonder whatever happened to this series?” Well, I’ll be taking a look at videogame franchises and the lead up to their eventual absence. With that being said, today I’ll be asking the question: “Whatever Happened to Alone in the Dark?”
An interesting series to say the least, Alone in the Dark back in its earliest days was, not only a juggernaut of the classic survival horror genre, but practically spearheaded it as well. These types of games were embodied by such notable titles as Resident Evil, Dino Crisis and Silent Hill, which would go on to make huge impacts and innovations. Even now, these franchises still continue to make noise (i.e. Resident Evil 7).
Before taking a look at the series as a whole, I realise that Alone in the Dark’s most recent release was in June of 2015, but the resulting flop that Illumination would become continued to strengthen an already widely asked question: “Where did this franchise go wrong?” Where indeed, when your series goes from hard-hitting, pulse-pounding thrills to Resident Evil 5 style action-adventure, something must have gotten lost in the mix.
To go back to the start though, it would be in 1992 when the first game would find its way onto shelves for the PC. Establishing a presence quick among gamers, it would be deemed the first ‘fully 3D survival horror’ game to ever be released. Despite being understandably glitchy for the time, Alone in the Dark was received with incredibly positive reviews. Positive reviews that, unfortunately, would begin to fade fast.
A year later in ‘93, Alone in the Dark 2 would be steered in a new direction in terms of look and feel. Developer Infogrames wanted to focus on a more action-packed style, rather than survival horror experience. The experience was still there, but with this new mentality, the game would garner considerably less praise than its predecessor. Still considered a success though, it wouldn’t be until Alone in the Dark 3 when things began to get really shaky.
Being one of the lowest reviewed titles of the series, Alone in the Dark 3 had little going right and lots going wrong. However, despite the negative backlash, there were a few positives taken away from it. The biggest one being that Infogrames had realised their mistake with Alone in the Dark 2 and proceeded to get back to the series’ roots instead of taking the action route. That being said though, this wouldn’t be the last time Alone in the Dark would move towards more action rather than ambiance...
Following the third game’s release, it would be another seven years before the announcement of a new Alone in the Dark. Titled ‘The New Nightmare’ and made by developers Darkworks, it would seem that the series had gotten the fresh coat of paint it needed. Also worth mentioning, this would be the first time a game in the series would find it’s home on consoles. As far as approval ratings go, The New Nightmare did quite well with fans and critics alike, both praising its performance on the PS2 and Dreamcast, yet pointing out its flaws on PC. Unfortunately for fans, another six long years would go by before seeing a new installment arrive.
This brings us to Alone in the Dark, the reboot. Released in 2008, this title would more or less mark the beginning of the end for the franchise. Coming out to lukewarm reviews at best, The reboot was criticised for being too buggy and going back towards a more actiony feel (previously visited in Alone in the Dark 2.) With lackluster features and an overall mediocre story, it wouldn’t sit well with fans. A better version of the game was released later on under the name Alone in the Dark: Inferno and would fix a lot of the annoyances that the original had, thus being better reviewed for it. However, it couldn’t get rid of the initial sour taste that was left behind.
Jump to the 11th of June, 2015 and we have what appears to be the final nail in the coffin. Alone in the Dark: Illumination. What is probably the furthest one could get from an Alone in the Dark game, Illumination was panned by critics for its heavy use of online multiplayer that added little to nothing to gameplay. The game was also incredibly soft sold, with virtually no PR to back it up or help hype it to fans.
With all this taken into account, it would seem that Alone in the Dark has been through some ‘dark’ times of its own. This is a franchise I would love to see continued because the potential for it is massive, but it keeps squandering that on promises of “appealing to a larger audience” and following “what has become the norm’ in gaming”. Sadly, we may never again see that spark of innovation from ‘the father of the survival horror genre’.
So there you have it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what happened to Alone in the Dark.