Batteries running out is bad for one very good reason: Central Park is teeming with the vile and the vicious, with nutjobs and cranks, and the knock-on effect is that the game is scary. And Nour believes that’s because Alone in the Dark’s world is so real and immersive that you totally buy into the scenario you’re facing. “Once we’ve got your full attention,” she says, “we can start to manipulate your emotions, which is when suggested fear comes into play. The idea of what could be behind a door or hiding in a dark corner is much more powerful than simply being presented with some ugly dude trying to swipe your head off.” It's all about cranking up the tension until there’s a real sense of foreboding.
Helping you taste the terror even more acutely is the soundtrack. Nour explains: “The music follows the dynamic of the gameplay, responding to what’s happening and takes into account where you’ve come from and what you’ve done rather than simply being triggered by a pre-set event.”
So, it’s got a vast play area, full of grassland, lakes, reservoirs, bridges, zoos, castles, police precincts and brick-pooping sewer systems. It’s got a story centered on an ancient evil rising up in an area twice the size of Monaco. It’s got vehicles to drive, guns to shoot, fires to start and things to make you jump. And it’s got a single ending, that – intriguingly – you may or may not get to see depending on what decisions you make. But, the big question is, does it look the part? Is this going to be a game that’ll blow out your eyeballs? In truth, probably not. The game is about the overall picture; the elements Eden have stitched together, rather than the Hollywood moments you forget the instant you pass them. “Technical innovation can sometimes blind you to the all-important ‘is this game fun to play?’ factor,” reckons Nour. “But every innovation we’ve implemented has added to the experience. In AITD you do things you never did in a game before, but it’s always fun…”
With plenty of work left to do, the March release date still looks ambitious – but if Eden’s plans for the game come off, we could be looking at one of the defining moments in the horror genre from the series that started it all.
Jan 18, 2008