E3 06: Alone in the Dark impressions

After a long absence from the gaming world, classic survival horror series Alone in the Dark is back to terrify the control pad-wielding populace. Publisher Atari has let slip a teaser trailer, as well as few tantalizing details of the upcoming scare-fest.

The trailer is mostly a tech demo, showing off realistic, moody lighting full of mist and visible rays of light, and dangling only a few bloody hints as to what is going on. We spoke directly with Atari after seeing it, and were able to glean a few more hints about what's so creepy about New York's Central Park and what will set this game apart from the masses.

Taking a cue from TV shows like Alias and 24, the new Alone in the Dark will adopt a form of episodic storytelling, as opposed to the film-like storytelling most games use. This subtle change should yield a more sustained pace with tons of cliffhanger moments, and should also enable the player to play in smaller doses, but still feel fulfilled. Developer Eden games is even crafted bumpers for each episode that will show you what has happened previously, as well as what will happen soon. Downloadable episodes are also possible.

The story stars ex-detective Edward Carnby - yes, the same hero from the original Alone in the Dark. Somehow, he's not dead or even older, even though the first game took place in like, 1920. We're told there's actually a reason for this, and it'll be explained in the game. He's investigating something odd about Central Park - after all, isn't it strange that there's a vast, lushly forested park in the middle of a city so desperate to utilize every square inch of real estate it can?

The specifics of Carnby's search are unclear; we're told only that they center around paranormal events linked to the after-life. More specifically, if the presence of a spiky, humanoid monster covered in blood in the trailer is anything to go by, he might be investigating something escaping the afterlife. Just a theory.

At any rate, the promise of a grisly story and a go-anywhere, explore as you see fit, yet still episodic version of Central Park (complete with zoo, museum, and reservoir) has us thinking there will be a lot of us entering the park "alone" early next year.

May 10, 2006