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Alone in the Dark

aka: AITD, Alone in the Dark 5, Alone in the Dark: Near Death Investigation
Moby ID: 34702
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Description official descriptions

It has been 83 years since Edward Carnby investigated the suicide of Jeremy Hartwood. Now he wakes up in an apartment in New York and is moments away from being shot by a group of bad guys. He doesn't remember much and as he looks into a mirror, a man looks back at him that isn't even near the age of 80. But as all hell breaks loose and mysterious forces tear through the building and the city itself, the question about his looks becomes one of many. To make things even worse, an old enemy decides to return in a search for a powerful stone. So for Carnby a race for survival begins and all signs point to Central Park.

Edward's mysterious journey is divided into eight episodes that can be played in chronological order or can be accessed directly from the main menu. Once in the game, the player controls Edward either in a 1st-person or a 3rd-person manner either by switching manually or depending on the situation and what item he uses. If he picks up a fire extinguisher for example, the player will be able to extinguish fires with it if he is in 1st-person mode. In 3rd-person mode it instead becomes a deadly weapon or a battering ram.

This is especially important since Edward won't find much ammunition for the pistols, shotguns and other weapons in the game. Instead he needs to be creative and use the items he finds or the environment for his advantage. Especially since most enemies can only be permanently killed by burning them, igniting a wooden chair at a nearby fire, or using a lighter and a can of hairspray are Edward's best bets to knock them out.

Fire plays an important role in the game at all times. If not extinguished, it will slowly burn through anything in the vicinity and spread until everything burnable has been reduced to a smoking pile of ash. This behavior can of course be useful to Edward if he for instance wants to get through a closed wooden door and has nothing heavy at hand to force his way.

Spellings

  • Alone in the Dark: У последней черты - Russian spelling
  • 鬼屋魔影:死亡界線 - Taiwan spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

431 People (413 developers, 18 thanks) · View all

Game Director
Lead Game Designer
Technical Director
Executive Producer
Senior Producer
Music composed, supervised and Game-mixed by
Senior Producers
Lead Integrators
Lead Testers
Scenarists
Script Doctors
Sound Designers
Assistant Sound Mixer
Cinematic Editors
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 64% (based on 77 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 2 reviews)

Burn, m.f., burn!!!

The Good
First of all, I should say that I liked the original game released in far 1992. Secondly, I've launched this game in February, 2009, when a half of year has passed since the game's release. Before the first launch, I hoped that the game was good enough, but some doubts visited me due to a large amount of reviews in the Internet written by some disappointed players. During the game and after the game finish I've realized that my hopes were proved and it was another proof that we should trust our own opinions mostly. And I guess that game protagonist, Edward Carnby, thought about something similar in the game ending.

Since the very beginning of the game I had some difficulties to control the character in 3rd-person view. There is no mouse support and player may move him with the keys (or gamepad) only. But when I've mastered such controls, I saw that they are very well designed. Controls in 1st-person view are ordinary, mouse support exists, and I've used it in most parts of combat sequences, while shooting the monsters.

The most enjoyable part in combats/fights lies exactly in the way of opponent's elimination. Some nervous players may fail to master the way to be the best in Central Park, but I suggest to think always and to act in cold blood. To kill the monster, you should set him/her/it on fire. But variety of the ways of how you may achieve this is truly unveils the source of player's imagination. Distant throwers are best executed with Molotov's Cocktails winded with adhesive tape, while walking zombies or cocoon sources are best shot with a bullets poured with whiskey or oil, and Root Trees are mostly eliminated with lighter and any spray. In any way, hints on weapon combinations are appearing while the game is reloaded after casual death, and they allow you to find the ways appropriate for you.

The mission to eliminate all Evil Roots in Central Park is also enjoyable. Some of them are very difficult to reach, so you should think, but all of them may be eliminated. I've reached 100% of paranormal vision, but sadly it does not help my protagonist much (and it is BAD).

The music, atmosphere, and plot are very successful. Plot untwists very fast, and you will not be bored in any part of the game. You are always do something, and this something is often new in the game. Puzzles during the last minutes of the game are also challenging, but they do not stop you much from reaching the ending(s).

The Bad
The graphics are very bad sometimes. I'm saying about some kind of smoke, shadows, darkness, and other effects. It seems that some textures are out-of-date, or palette was inverted, or something else. And it is orange-color oriented that is absolutely unclear for "real world".

The next bad part is a Driving Simulation. Physics in this simulation does not reach the modern level, but I've enjoyed to drive anyway.

Unreal savegames are also makes some kind of game-cheating. When you will eliminate the Root and will be killed occasionally, you'll reborn with all your weapons and state, but Root will be kept eliminated. It helps sometimes to pass difficult places (it is GOOD), but challenge is lowered.

Another bad situation is ability to play the game only by one player per PC. All next launches of the game will overwrite the current progress. And if you've played too much and occasionally started the new game and agreed with message appeared, just forget about your own progress in the game. Maybe due to this fact, the chapters were divided in checkpoints allowing you to start them from main menu in any order, or maybe it was made for replayability. Who knows...

And the last bad part - it is the endings. I may agree that it is a present fashion to make BAD endings. It concerns F.E.A.R., Prince of Persia 2008, Dead Space (in some way), The Witcher, Lost: Via Domus (decadent) and the others, but endings here are absolutely unclear. Two of them allows Lucifer to enter the world. Such event leads to very bad consequences if you'll kill Sarah, and slightly better than previous ones if you don't kill her. The reasonable question appears. What are you fighting in the game for? Or maybe other endings exist? However, I did not find any alternative endings.

The Bottom Line
I've liked the game much and especially its style. Such style reminds me the original Alone in the Dark. It was short, multiple ways were possible, and it was very atmospheric. This game is near the original, but it is only near... I think that such game has achieved much more and I'm waiting for the sequel. Some flaws in the game exist, but overall it is a very good solid non-stop action, where you should use your brain to kill monsters and desire to reach the end. Truly worth playing.

Windows · by POMAH (65968) · 2009

More like Alone in the....whatever, this game is terrible.

The Good
Let me briefly explain my personal experience with Alone in the Dark. Back in 2008 I was on the edge of my seat waiting for this game to be released. I had watched all of the trailers, including the impressive technology demo’s highlighting the cutting edge fire effects and improvised weaponry system. With graphics, scope and sound and general game design that seemed pretty cutting edge for the time I naturally pre-ordered the game. I can actually remember the day I went to pick it up. I was, naturally, very excited and had played it briefly that morning before work when I went to trade my receipt for the game. I only had about 15 minutes to spare though and didn’t have a chance to get past the opening. So, later that evening I sat down to play Alone in the Dark and after playing it for a little over 2 hours turned my Xbox off in disgust and returned the game for a refund the next day. Obviously being 3 years ago I can’t remember my exact motivation for returning the game the next day but I believe it had something to do with the frame rate, multiple glitches and a total system wide freeze that made me restart my console.

After that, I thought I had washed my hands of Alone in the Dark forever, frowning upon it at all possible convenience. Recently however I saw it sitting on a shelf in EB Games, brand new, for only $12. I thought about it for a little while and shrugged, thinking that maybe I owed it to Eden Games to give Alone in the Dark another try. To put my bias aside and try to power through the game, faults and all, to get a proper picture of the state of the whole experience. After sitting all of the way through the game now I can say Alone in the Dark is not a game that is totally without merit, it is however, one of the worst games I have ever played. The weird thing is, like watching an episode of He-Man or the old A-Team cartoon I can’t help but have this odd, guilty pleasure affinity to the it.

You play Edward Carnby, waking up with amnesia and unable to transition to 3rd Person mode. After being forced to ruin your thumb blinking to clear your eyes for 10 minutes you then take control of Carnby in what is actually a fairly impressive introduction. It’s exciting, the action is well scripted (which is more than I can say for the dialog) and it does a decent enough job or setting up the mythology that is to come.

You bump into your love interest Sarah who inexplicably decides to accompany the foul mouthed super hero whom she bumps into in an elevator and along with Thiophile (that is his actual name) Paddington you escape to Central Park where he promptly shoots his own face off for no apparent reason. At this point, nothing in this game is making sense. However as this is the good section we will discuss the redeeming features of Alone in the Dark, which are actually in abundance. For the first half of the game ammunition is at a premium and other than for eliminating smaller enemies your gun is completely useless. Therefore you have to rely on the...interesting combat system. It is actually a pretty good idea. The right thumb stick corresponds to what is currently being held in Carnby’s hands and rotating the stick causes Carnby to slowly wave around whatever is in his hands. More violent movements of the stick causes Carnby to lash out either swinging savagely from left to right or delivering a punishing overhead attack.

This degree of control over how a character uses items is a pretty refreshing change from simply hammering the A button to attack. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it is semi functional if you take the time to understand it.

When ammunition is more common you can begin pouring what I assume is kerosene on your bullets to turn them into flaming bullets. In order to properly kill enemies you have to light them on fire, similar to burning zombies in Resident Evil (the remake) in order to prevent them returning as Crimson Heads. Enemies have fissures running through their bodies which act as weak points that must be shot with flaming bullets in order to properly kill them if no sources of fire are present. It’s a little cumbersome and awkward but for the most part it becomes second nature to just pour some liquid on your bullets before fighting. In all honesty it is hardly worth complaining about.

This brings me onto the awesome inventory system. This is my favourite aspect of the game. Instead of a static inventory screen everything is done in real time by looking inside your jacket. Items are combined by highlighting them, pressing x and then choosing the item to combine the prior with. For instance, combining a bottle of vodka with a rag and lighting it makes a molotov cocktail. You can also hold two things at once in your right and left hands. Depending on the combination of items in your hands Carnby can do different things. For instance with a bottle of liquid in one hand and a knife in the other he can pierce the bottle and leave a lightable trail or with a can of rust remover in one hand and a lighter in the other you have a makeshift flamethrower. Eden Games really put a lot of detail in certain parts of the game from the refreshing inventory system to the different style of combat and the ability to pick up and move almost anything you can see. You can hot wire cars, shoot the entire door handle off of doors (or burn the door down) and approach fights from many different angles using fire in creative ways. I really did enjoy a lot of what Alone in the Dark had to offer. The graphics in the game are very polished, the soundtrack is absolutely outstanding and the DVD style scene selection for quickly returning to certain parts of the game is quite an interesting concept as well (using this scene selection does preclude you from earning certain Achievements).

The predominantly free roaming nature of the game is actually sewn together quite well with intelligently paced exploration of sewer systems, museums, castles and cataclysmic landscapes forged by the horror unfolding in New York City. These areas all feature unique challenges in the form of physics based puzzles, boss fights or logic puzzles. One of my favourite puzzles involves you having to pull a sword off of a wall in order to sever a guards hand in order to open a biometric reader securing a door. This kind of quirky puzzle design abounds in Alone in the Dark and in general the challenge of them is always fair and never outside of the realm of the average persons intellect and patience. I quite enjoyed figuring out how to utilise my inventory in the way that Eden intended to solve these puzzles.

The Bad
That’s pretty much all of the praise I can give to Alone in the Dark. To be brutally honest there isn’t any one particular problem that causes the game to slip up and ruin your day. It’s a lot of little nagging problems that begin to weigh you down in a heady ocean of frustration and broken mechanics.

First of all the story is a wafer thin rehash of every “good vs. evil” narrative ever bashed out on a wash out writers Powerbook. Carnby is one dimensional and the propagation of a relationship with Sarah feels forced and unnatural. On the topic of Sarah she spends the entire game getting kidnapped, whining, almost dying and constantly irritating you with incessant text messages that amount to nothing more than updates on Paddington’s journal that almost always say; “this happened and it made me feel this way now I’m going to do this let’s hope it works”. Carnby is constantly swearing at and abusing what is essentially the devil himself. Either he has giant Viking balls or he is as intelligent as his badly cut hair. One piece of dialog that caught me by surprise at the beginning of the game with its sheer dumbassery was this pearl of writing genius:

SATAN: “Now give me the stone” Carnby: “I don’t have your stone. And fuck you anyway!”

Carnby says this in such a badly paced, stilted and insincere way that is was almost as if the person playing him had no idea what or who he was talking to in the session. It is like the director just poked his/her head in and said “there’s a bad guy and you’re angry! Also, read it like you are thirteen and you are telling your teacher to shove their homework up their ass”. It’s awkward and painful most of the time to listen to the characters interact with one another but it’s not always this god awful, so that’s a plus.

The thing I find most distasteful about Eden’s treatment of the series protagonist is that they have tried to bundle the mythology from the original Alone in the Dark games into the reboot while ignoring the reboot from 2001 completely. The New Nightmare is probably the best Alone in the Dark game that was ever made. The atmosphere was spot on, the story was great and the game play was accessible and satisfying. Why completely skip it over? You can’t just ignore the reboot because you’re rebooting it again if you’re including other mythology from previous games in the series.

The gameplay works when it damn well wants to work and it would appreciate it if you stopped trying to make it work. In general, driving around and exploring Central Park is a relatively painless experience until you realise you are at the mercy of three ruling forces in this game; the A.I, the close to broken engine and the game play. The A.I is brain dead but ceaselessly irritating. Eden throws more enemies at you than rotten fruit at a beheading and there isn’t always fire around to save your bacon. Therefore you end up running around a lot begging for whatever is trying to eat you to leave you alone in a scene reminiscent of a Benny Hill sketch. Enemies jump on your car, pummelling it while completely ignoring basic gameplay rules like “drive fast = leave me alone”, something that is established very early in the game. They will pull you out of your car forcing you to endlessly jump back in and try to hot wire it again only for the same enemy to do it again. Kill it however, and another one shoots out of the ground like some sort of unholy geyser of frustration. Then in plain old normal combat you will constantly get overwhelmed while trying to fiddle around in your inventory, you can assign favourites but honestly they should just leave me the hell alone. You’ll get backed up into corners, knocked around and over, stabbed multiple times and blinded. Combat is so imprecise and difficult to get the hang of that it is borderline infuriating. Like I said before, you can get the hang of it, but I shouldn’t have to “get the hang” of the combat in a survival horror game. When you notice one of the most important things in a game of this genre has been ballsed up so early you know things are only going to get worse from here.

Then there are the various technical problems that I found while playing. I have fallen through floors, failed to grab lines, become stuck in the side of a cliff, become stuck in a door, wedged myself between two stones and found myself unable to get out and finally the game has frozen three times forcing me to restart and lose all of my progress. In all three instances there was literally nothing at all that should have caused those crashes yet they happened. I wasn’t taxing the game and I hadn’t poured lighter fluid on it at this point it just froze. The thing is, when these things do occur they really do come as a surprise because in general, the game is competently enough developed for the most part. It’s like the gaming equivalent of bipolar. You’ll be steaming along with a smile on your face saying “you know what, this really isn’t that bad after all!” actually enjoying the game and feeling quite happy when suddenly you get trapped in the side of a cliff. Then you get sad, then frustrated and angry and ultimately turn off the game. Then you come back to it, that sense of enjoyment comes back and then you fall through the floor, cue frustration and anger. Do you see a pattern emerging?.

The Bottom Line
This game prevents you from enjoying it. It is literally close to broken due to the amount of times I have seen some sort of game breaking bug or freeze mire the experience. There are times when it is very good, the music is great and the graphics are providing some nice realism and atmosphere and then Carnby is sent hurtling into a wall by one of the insanely overpowered enemies who is currently having a physics seizure and flailing around wildly. Suddenly everyone in the room is acting like they have been overcome by seizures and out of sheer astonishment at how terrible the game is you just have to turn it off.

I gave you a try Alone in the Dark, I really did. I thought I owed it to Eden Games to play through the entire thing but I all I have to say to them now is “I want my $12 back”.

Xbox 360 · by AkibaTechno (238) · 2011

Discussion

Subject By Date
Central Dark website Daniel Saner (3492) Dec 25th, 2013
The game's ending (spoilers) Foxhack (31938) Jun 1st, 2010

Trivia

Driving Technology

Eden Games also developed the racing game Test Drive Unlimited and the cars in Alone of the Dark use the same underlying technology.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

Additional contributors: Cravo, Sciere, Klaster_1, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third.

Game added June 21st, 2008. Last modified December 2nd, 2023.