Alone in the Dark (PC) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 19.03.2024

Review for Alone in the Dark on PC

Alone in the Dark is just as responsible for the rise of survival horror as Resident Evil. Both franchises had dramatically different approaches, with Alone in the Dark feeling decidedly more like an adventure game. A lot has changed in the industry since the original game was released in 1992. What it originally innovated has since evolved, resulting in the original falling out of popular culture. With a messy line of sequels outside of the original trilogy, popularity of the series hit a low. However, thanks to Pieces Interactive and publisher THQ Nordic, Alone in the Dark has been remade and reimagined. Can this modernisation live up to the original game's highs?

Join Private Investigator Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood as they search for Emily's uncle Jeremy and uncover a dark mystery. Travel, as either Edward or Emily, through Decerto, encountering bizarre characters and unusual items that all reek of a deeper issue in the manor. The narrative is immediately interesting and captivating; it all has a veil of uncanniness and the characters of Emily and Edward are acted excellently, adding some weight to their personalities. The game moves quickly from light adventure game style exploring to some fairly lovecraftian horrors, which, as the game progresses, get more horrifying and confusing. However, the story writing successfully delivers the emotional payoffs and twists, letting the players get fully invested in the plot. What lurks in the darkness?

Screenshot for Alone in the Dark on PC

Gameplay is a nice melding of exploration and puzzle solving. On PC it feels best to play using a controller which is a little odd but it's perfectly serviceable on the keyboard and mouse. Character movement feels good, getting a nice balance between speed and manoeuvrability. In combat the movement is good, yet there is a deliberate awkwardness to the fighting itself. Players can, as either character, deploy ranged and melee combat as they see fit, the latter of which is the most awkward but can really save players who are backed into a corner. Aiming and shooting feels pretty great, although sometimes a little inaccurate. However, this may be engineered deliberately as neither Edward nor Emily are particularly combat experienced. Some small niggles appear when interacting with interactive points. These often have very small targets that have a very specific spot in the map for the player to stand, and this can often lead to very minor frustration when searching a lot of items or trying to talk to characters in the scene.

Levels are designed in a great way that harkens back to the areas in the original game but presents them in excellently higher detail. Getting used to the layout of Decerto is an important part of the identity the game is aiming for and it achieves it a lot of the time. The building feels quite grounded outside of the more supernatural moments. Speaking of them however, they offer much more varied scenery and events for the player to respond to that should, on many occasions, leave an impression. There are little things that would have been cool to help distinguish the playable characters' stories or to make them feel intertwined, but given the effort to essentially implement twice the levels it's understandable why this didn't happen.

In terms of puzzles there is a penchant for item searching in the house, which are then used to unlock doors or to add a final piece to a puzzle. These are often quite simple puzzles, however the player can opt to play with old-school navigation settings, meaning that interaction points are not all visually indicated and things like items are only found using things like hints in flavour text from notes. It's a really nice touch and adds a little layer of that survival horror adventure gameplay the more action focussed titles have lost over time.

Screenshot for Alone in the Dark on PC

Visually, the developers and designers have done a fantastic job capturing the aesthetic that Alone in the Dark was missing in its older entries. Costumes and buildings just lend an authentic feel to the time period and locations that are great to see. Main characters also benefit from great facial animation and things like animated cloth to bring them to life that little bit more than some other modern titles. Environments have a healthy amount of clutter to get that lived-in feeling, which is enhanced by the excellent lighting and textures. All of this is underpinned by a fantastic design style that gives the game a perfect balance of realism through rendering and style though not quite aiming for realistic humans.

Character rendering is also excellent with the aforementioned costume designs and lots of incidental details like hair cuts and mannerisms that define each character at a glance. Oddly, the immersion breaking only really happened sometimes while playing the title as Edward, since his actor David Harbor has a very recognisable face and voice. A problem which is also true of Emily if the player is familiar with her actress. Occasionally, characters can look a little odd in the face but it's often just a weird bit of lighting or a scene before the player has adjusted to the stylisations. One thing that some players might be confused by is that the characters don't really bear any relation to the original release's character designs, but ultimately this is probably for the better as this remake does a lot to make the characters much more interesting. For curious players it is possible to get character skins of the original game's protagonists as well as a very cool 8-bit filter to really get nostalgia flowing.

Screenshot for Alone in the Dark on PC

The default settings the game had upon booting it up were somewhat unflattering with blocky hair rendering and limited detail LoDs. That said it can be a very heavy title due to its use of lighting, post-processing, shadows and foliage. It pushed this reviewer's ageing rig to the edge (an older i7 and an Nvidia 1080), especially when aiming for the best possible visual quality. It was perfectly possible to lock the framerate down to 30 with v-sync however, for those who want more fidelity than responsiveness.

Aside from visuals, which are quite a striking part of this remake, there is a killer soundtrack. It makes copious use of 80's jazzy blues undertones, almost like a mystery detective show from that era. These tracks are used sparingly and when they are there it's great at reinforcing the more odd things that are happening at Derceto. The rest of the game uses atmospheric twangs, some of which are things like wind and rain helping to ground a location but sometimes it's stings that alert the player to monsters or draw attention to a specifically interesting place. The voice work is also mostly fantastic, it has a good range of accents, all seemingly correct for the location. Actors also have a great range, often managing to portray the emotional moments impactfully. It's good stuff basically.

Screenshot for Alone in the Dark on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Although sometimes a little rough, Alone in the Dark is a fantastic remake/reimagining that brings the series back in line with its most interesting events and timeline. This is essential for players looking for a semi-old-school survival horror title that has excellent world design, acting and a host of interesting mysteries to solve. A really great return to form!

Developer

Pieces Interactive

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
jesusraz

There are 1 members online at the moment.