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Alone in the Dark (DOS)

83
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4.0
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5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Yeba (60)
Written on  :  Aug 09, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

An excellent classic game. Period.

The Good

Alone in the Dark has so many good points it's hard not to forget some. Let's see :

The story is really good, it respects well the style of Lovecraft's work. OK, the monsters aren't "real" Lovecraft creatures, but the way you discover darker secrets at every step, as well as the main plot line are quite faithful. The use of various in-game books that the the player needs to read to understand it is a nice idea.

Sounds and music were simply fantastic for the time... With very good hardware, it was really frightening (I still remember the effect it had on me after having played it on a computer with Roland MT 32 compatible card), and it was way superior to any title (and still is, I think) if you didn't have any sound hardware but your basic PC speaker. Choose it in the setup menu, and then just listen to the sound when you drink water for example.

Ok, let's look at the graphics : well, simply put, Alone in the Dark was one of the first game ever using real-time flat 3D graphics. With a few other titles such as Strike Commander & Ultima Underworld, it has initiated the evolution which led the video gaming industry where it is now. Sure, the 3D is quite outdated now but still acceptable. What's more, it goes well with the beautiful 2D backgrounds, and the use of dramatic camera angles is really great.

Finally, the gameplay, that is puzzles and fights, is ok but not extraordinary. Note though that there are a few different ways to resolve some problems. Yes, the game seems really short compared to recent games, but first this is true for lots of old games, and second if you really try to do it only by yourself, it's not that easy. And take time to immerse yourself !

The Bad

There are in my opinion a few difficult moments. Do not hesitate to backup old saves while playing, for you can pretty easily get stuck forever (if you play without walkthrough, that is).

A real problem when playing it now is that the controls don't always work correctly on recent PCs. I've tried it on many different hardware configurations, using Ms-Dos booting disks as well as Windows Dos Boxes... Well sometimes, running in the game is, as a fact, very difficult, no matter what you do (I even changed the BIOS keyboard speed settings). And running is VERY important in this game :-\

The automatic camera switching may definitely be irritating when you are in the middle of a fight :-)

I suggest using a software to make it run slower (I don't have any name in mind right now, sorry). You can't really appreciate the introduction, for example, if you run it on a high-speed PC. Remember it was supposed to run on a 386 or 486...

The Bottom Line

A great action/adventure game with a nice story and, most of all, a wonderful atmosphere. Atmosphere clearly makes it all, if you don't appreciate it, you can stop playing. One of the two games I ever played which made me scream (ok, I doubt anyone playing it now would scream, but at the time it seemed much realistic ;-)