This is a game with more great ideas than it can handle, like a one-man band trying to perform the entire works of The Beatles simultaneously. Its biggest selling point is its physics system. Most objects in the world can be picked up, set alight, shattered, shoved and thrown, and the fidelity of the world is quite impressive. It also features unique analogue controls, letting you move objects ‘around’ your character by teasing the analogue stick. This enables you to realistically swing weapons, or hold things into flames to set them on fire, for instance.
Yes, as the title suggests, fire is a big deal in Alone in the Dark. Your enemies – wall-climbing zombies – can only be offed with flames, meaning guns and sticks are only good for knocking them out as you find a wooden chair to set alight or a blaze to drag them into. You can also combine objects to create makeshift flame-based weaponry, including a lighter and aerosol can (don’t try this at home) and dousing bullets in nitroglycerin (or this).
In theory, this is an incredibly clever and imaginative take on the horror genre, but, sadly, the execution is a mess. Despite being massively improved over the Xbox 360 version, the game engine is still creaky, with jaggy visuals and infuriating collision detection. There are some fine moments and gorgeous graphics, but its lack of polish drags it down.
Nov 18, 2008