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Alone in the Dark Review

Alone in the Dark Review

As one of the main franchises that kickstarted the survival horror genre, Alone in the Dark never really became a big name when compared to the likes of Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Now, after 16 years (because we sure aren’t going to count Illumination), the series is back with a reimagining of the 1992 classic. But does Alone in the Dark (2024) bring the original's dark, foreboding atmosphere and blend it with the amenities we come to expect from modern gaming?

The game opens with our two main protagonists, the gruff private investigator Edward Carnby and the stoic yet troubled Emily Hartwood. After receiving an unsettling letter from her uncle — Jeremy Hartwood — Emily hires Edward in order to assist her during her trip to Derceto Manor, a former plantation turned into a home for those struggling with mental health issues and Jeremy’s permanent residence. This may sound somewhat familiar to those who played the original, but rest assured that this iteration strays away from its predecessor enough to feel fresh for fans of the series while still being a perfect entry point for anyone who has yet to play an Alone in the Dark title.

Things don’t seem quite right at Derceto, as upon arrival, the staff seem less than eager to see the two protagonists. But, after discovering that Jeremy is missing, they aren’t going anywhere; there’s a mystery to be solved! Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a survival horror without the horror, and it doesn’t take long for things to get spooky. The pair become caught in nightmarish environments conjured up by Jeremy’s mind, where they must battle fiendish abominations and try to survive long enough to return to the relative safety of Derceto. The back and forth between the more puzzle-focused, brightly lit manor and the survival horror elements of the otherworldly areas is perfectly paced and delivers a story that is both tragic and creepy in equal measure. In fact, the narrative was so enjoyable (I even found the collectibles to provide interesting backstories to former patients of Derceto) that it’s worth playing through with the other protagonist. Their stories aren’t drastically different, but they are worth experiencing in the long run.

It would be quickly entering spoiler territory to go into too much detail about the story, but both Jodie Comer and David Harbour (who play Emily and Edward, respectively) do phenomenal jobs of bringing their characters to life. Both are complex individuals with their own internal struggles, and the use of facial motion capture really helps in expressing their turmoil. Faces can look a bit off from time to time, but the majority of the time, it certainly adds more drama to a scene. They aren’t the only characters you’ll meet, and each of the NPCs — whilst not being portrayed by big names — are all well-acted and make for some interesting interactions.

Alone in the Dark is absolutely dripping with atmosphere, and the moody, noir style of 1930s Southern America is perfectly realised. The Lovecraftian elements are on full display during your trips through Jeremy’s nightmare planes, and the cosmic horror is truly unsettling. Never an overtly scary game, it nevertheless keeps tensions running high thanks to impressive shadows and lighting, giving the player the sense of not knowing who — or what — might be around the next corner. You may find yourself searching the dimly lit streets of New Orleans, a relatively unthreatening environment, but later areas are so twisted and obtuse that they invoke a much stronger feeling of unease in the player.

The presentation isn’t flawless, however. Some of the character animations, particularly when using a melee attack, look a little stiff, just lacking that extra bit of smoothness needed to make our protagonists not so robotic. It’s not a huge issue, considering the game runs smoothly all the time, but it can break the immersion somewhat.

Similar to how Resident Evil 2 gives you the option to choose between its two protagonists, Alone in the Dark gives you the option to play as Edward or Emily. Whilst the moment-to-moment gameplay doesn’t differ, the environments they explore, paths they take, and interactions with NPCs will change. With a single playthrough taking around 10 hours, it’s worth experiencing both of their stories!

Gameplay in Alone in the Dark is basically split into two sections. One part has you searching around Derceto Manor, investigating the disappearance of Emily’s uncle and unravelling the mysteries surrounding this strange, hellish world in which the duo are constantly finding themselves trapped in. The manor areas have a heavy emphasis on puzzle solving, and though you may find yourself roaming its halls in search of a key to unlock an unexplored room, chances are you’ll stumble upon a completely different brainteaser in the process. It’s fairly non-linear in that sense, and with a helpful map that lets players know which rooms have been fully explored, which are still hiding secrets, and which are yet to be unlocked, there’s always a firm sense of direction on where to focus your attention next.

Derceto Manor is a creepy place, with strange anomalies and shifting rooms aplenty, but the true horror comes from the nightmare world, which is where the puzzle-solving and exploration shift to a more survival-based experience. Aside from confronting their own demons, Edward and Emily will have to contend with the much more physical demons that seem intent on ripping their faces off. Using a talisman found early on in the game, you’ll step through into Jeremy’s dreamworld, which feels much more linear than when exploring the manor. Danger could lurk around every corner, so making sure you’re well-armed is crucial to combating any creature lying in wait. Of course, with scarce ammo and melee weapons that break easily, you may have a better chance of surviving by distracting enemies with thrown objects or sneaking around them.

If you’re feeling brave, then gunplay feels fine, if unremarkable, and though the previously mentioned melee attacks may look slightly robotic, they’ll still pack a punch and buy you enough time to get to steppin’! Despite combat not being anything new, it still serves as a means to an end should you decide stealth isn’t an option (or you just want to make good use of your shotgun ammo reserves), and the over-the-shoulder third-person perspective means you’ll always have a good idea of where an enemy is about to strike from next.

In between all the locked doors and ghouls trying to take a bite out of you, players will come across Lagniappes, which serve as Alone in the Dark’s collectibles. Although optional, completing sets of them will unlock extra lore surrounding the goings-on in Derceto and beyond, so it’s worth seeking them out if the story has you gripped (which it should!).

It feels like a long, long time since anyone has said this, but the new Alone in the Dark is incredible. The cast of multifaceted characters and unique, chilling environments do wonders to breathe life into this dormant franchise. Combined with a gripping story and gameplay that — despite not being groundbreaking — feels satisfying, and this 2024 reimagining of a ‘90s classic is absolutely worth experiencing.

9.00/10 9

Alone in the Dark (2024) (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

A return to form for the franchise, Alone in the Dark masterfully tells an intriguing narrative mixed with solid acting and an engaging gameplay loop.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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