Alone in the Dark

aka: AITD, Call of Cthulhu: Doom of Derceto, In the Dark, Screams in the Dark
Moby ID: 325
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Jeremy Hartwood has committed suicide in his Louisiana mansion, Derceto. You take the role of either Edward Carnby, a private investigator, or Emily Hartwood, Jeremy's niece, and investigate the suspicious death. The three-floor mansion is reputed to be haunted by its eccentric past owner. Very quickly, you realise that it is. Warped rats, zombies, and giant worms are among the foes who are after you, and you must somehow escape.

Alone in the Dark is an action-adventure survival horror game. The action is displayed from a number of fixed viewpoints. The backgrounds are 2D painted images, while the player character, all items, and monsters are rendered as 3D models.

To escape the mansion, you'll have to solve a number of puzzles. They usually involve finding an item and using it in a proper place. Apart from items necessary for the puzzles, you can also find books and documents that can be read, healing items which can be consumed to restore hit points, and weapons.

Weapons come in handy since Derceto is full of various monsters. Some monsters can be killed with weapons, but others are either impossible to kill or require a bit of thinking to take down. Note also that you have limited amounts of ammunition, so you have to use firearms carefully.

Spellings

  • アローン・イン・ザ・ダーク - Japanese spelling
  • 鬼屋魔影 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

39 People (35 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Producer
Realized & Directed by
First Assistant
Programming
Production Designer (2D Graphics)
3D Modeling & Animation
Original Music & Sound FX
Mixed by
  • Sequence Coda
Screenplay
Product Manager (US)
Product Manager (EU)
Translation
Best Boys
Special Thanks To
JACK IN THE DARK and the CD-ROM conversions
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 76% (based on 49 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 201 ratings with 14 reviews)

Horror, Cthulhiana and great fun

The Good
The Alone in the Dark games are some of my favourite games from the early to mid-nineties. Carnby was sort of a hero for me, and I've spent hours and hours playing the games...more than once. The first game was, as I recall, one of the first (if not the first) Infogrames games to take advantage of the Cthulhu license. Yes, the game is in fact set in the universe of H.P. Lovecraft, where ancient horrors once ruled the world and man lives in blissful ignorance of the truth. The game doesn't reveal much about the Cthulhu mythos though, choosing instead to be more of a haunted house story. The interface is similar to that of the more recent Resident Evil games, as are the graphics. The camera angles are what you can expect from a horror game - creepy and suggestive. If you play this at night with headphones and all the lights turned out, don't be surprised if you feel more than a little edgy. Another high point of the game is the sound (not to mention the music). I'm not sure if there's a disk version of the game, but if there is, it must be vastly inferior to the CD version, which has CD audio not only for music, but also for the incredible speech in the game (which you only hear when reading books/letters).

The Bad
The game may be a bit too hard for some. I don't believe there are any difficulty settings, so if you're looking for a straight adventure game, Alone in the Dark is not for you.

It's also not as good as the second game :).

The Bottom Line
An excellent survival-horror game with excellent production values. Although one would expect so, it still holds up to the expectations of the modern games player ;).

DOS · by Christian Svindseth (2) · 2001

The original and best.

The Good

Alone in the Dark gave birth to survival horror, and while Resident Evil made this very genre a household name for gamers, Alone in the Dark was the founding father of the category.

As either Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood, you explore the large mansion Derceto. Unlike Resident Evil, there aren't multiple endings or character specific privileges, so you need not worry about which character you decide to control....

Many puzzles are straight-forward, but not always. The enemies are mainly zombies, but they are infrequent, and some of the other ghouls are just there to make you solve a puzzle quicker and then exit the area before the monster/ghost gets close to you. In one memorable scene, you have to pick up something left in a ballroom, but without alerting the dancing ghosts to your position. This can be tricky, so I advise you to save first.

Some copies of the game came packaged with Jack in the Dark, a mini game starring Grace Saunders from Alone in the Dark 2. It is a very simplistic adventure in which you have to rescue Santa Claus from a gang of toys that have mysteriously come to life.



The Bad
The game(s) have blocky graphics, and using a keyboard to control your character(s) gets incredibly boring after a while.

The Bottom Line
Alone in the Dark is a splendid mixture of puzzles and monster fun, with a strong emphasis on the work of H.P. Lovecraft.

3DO · by Melvin Raeynes (22) · 2007

Quite good, but far too short

The Good
The athmosphere is great! The different perspectives (almost cinemalike) and the sound support the gloomy feeling of the game. There is often more than one solution to a situation. The graphics are good, even better than in the next episodes.

The Bad
The controls sometimes do not work (e.g. running is difficult). In some cases the perspectives are not very good which is a disadvantage in fighting. There are a few unfair scenes. The puzzles are not that genious. IT IS MUCH TOO SHORT.

The Bottom Line
Action-Adventure that concentrates more on action. You see yourself from different perspectives in the game, depending on where you are. Pretends to be based on a novel but most players won't notice.

DOS · by Mr Creosote (366) · 1999

[ View all 14 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Crime doesn't pay chirinea (47512) Nov 8, 2011

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Alone in the Dark appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Backgrounds

All backgrounds were rendered in 3D via multiple camera angles, then converted to 2D.

Budget

Alone in the Dark was made with a budget of US $400,000.

Christmas CD re-release

There was a Christmas CD re-release with all the patches and Jack in the Dark.

Development

According to the French book La saga des Jeux Videos, by Daniel Ichbiah, the original title would have been In the Dark. The idea came from the Infogrames' PDG, Bruno Bonnell, and one of his collaborators, Eric Motet. The player would have been constantly in the dark, having only 3 matches he could use to progress.

Frederic Raynal, an Infogrames coder who was working on a 3D engine in his free time, tried to integrate the project very soon, but he didn't succeeded in convincing Eric Motet. He then finished his 3D engine and made a demo with an Infogrames artist Didier Chanfray. The result was shown to the managers in 1991 and it was judged so good Raynal became the project leader.

After a first attempt by the team itself, the scenario was written by Hubert Chardot, an independent writer who had worked for the 20th Century Fox and was a real Lovecraft fan. The definitive version was finished in only 3 afternoons, the whole team participating. Chaosium, judging it was unfaithful to Lovecraft's work, refused to validate it, thus losing any right to perceive royalties on it. It's also at this moment that the definitive title was chosen.

Last but not least.. when the project was in its early stage, Frederic Raynal met Yael Barroz, an Infogrames artist which integrated the team. They married very soon.

More details can be found in the book already mentioned; this is just a partial summary.

Inspiration to other games

Besides the obvious sequels, this game also "inspired" two other Infogrames Cthulu games, Shadow of the Comet and Prisoner of Ice. Two books in the game refer to Lord Boleskine and his ill-fated expedition to Illsmouth, which was later used as the basis for Shadow of the Comet's plot. Another book refers to the Prisoners of Ice who are featured in the Infogrames game of the same name.

This game is widely reported as being the inspiration for the Resident Evil series for both its graphical innovation and "survival horror" plot. But in terms of the graphic engine, a similar approach was used in Cruise for a Corpse.

Inspiration

The story was inspired by a supposedly true event. A man by the name of Edward Carnby spent a night in an old house by the name of Decerto to prove that it wasn't haunted. The following morning it is reported that Carnby used a pay phone to call someone called Gloria Allen and according to a witness he looked like "he'd been fighting 'gators all night."

Virtual Dreams

Before its release, Infogrames announced that Alone in the Dark would be the first in a new series of games; The "Virtual Dreams" series. Each game would have a totally different plot and setting, but they would all use the same engine. The original Alone in the Dark box (at least, in Europe) had different cover art, and featured the "Virtual Dreams" title. The game was later re-issued in its current box design, and there was no further mention, from Infogrames, of the "Virtual Dreams" series.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • February 1996 (Issue #139) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #88 on the 150 Best Games of All Time list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #14 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (being dragged into the underworld and sacrificed after)
  • GameFan
    • Vol.3, Iss. 1 - Best 3DO Action/Adventure Game of the Year in 1994
  • Game Informer
    • October 2005 (issue #136) - one of the Top 25 Most Influential Games of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #34 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • ECTS Awards 1993
    • Most original game
    • Game of the year France
    • Best graphics

Information also contributed by Alan Chan, Andrew Grasmeder, Big John WV, hydra9, Joshua Dove, Karthik KANE, Sycada and Yeba

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Related Games

Alone in the Dark 2
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Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
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Alone in the Dark 3
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Alone in the Dark: Prologue
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Alone in the Dark (Limited Edition)
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Alone in the Dark: The Trilogy 1+2+3
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Light in the Dark
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Home Alone
Released 1991 on Game Boy, SNES

Related Sites +

  • Postmortem Video - How the game was crafted
    A video featuring Alone in the Dark designer Frédérick Raynal discussing in depth the creation of Alone in the Dark on it's twentieth anniversary. Video is about an hour long, taken on March 9, 2012 at GDC 2012. Content starts at time index 13:32 in the video.
  • Walkthrough on GameFAQs

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 325
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brian Hirt.

FM Towns added by Sciere. iPhone, Acorn 32-bit, iPad added by Kabushi. PC-98 added by Terok Nor. Macintosh added by Scaryfun. 3DO added by Indra was here.

Additional contributors: Matthew Bailey, Xantheous, Brolin Empey, Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Pirou Julien, Patrick Bregger, Rik Hideto, li zhen, FatherJack, BlaringCoder, Johny Barreau.

Game added October 25, 1999. Last modified February 23, 2024.