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Alone in the Dark review

A next-gen impressionist that won’t be winning new faces

Not that the monsters pack much punch. Zombies and hell-rats are pretty good at bursting forth from the sulphurous depths, but by god, they aren’t half tame when they get up close. Not once did we die at the hands of this demonic army. Maybe they didn’t reach the ‘Face-eating and you’ chapter of ‘Generic Foes for Dummies’ – there’s simply no other reason for their sorry attempts at murderising. Survival horror it ain’t – Carnby’s way more of a liability than these chumps.

Alone in the Dark is certainly an ambitious port – more of an impersonation of the next-gen version than the watered down shrug of a game we’ve come to expect from cross-platform releases. Entire chunks of levels are perfect replicas, but then you turn the corner and a more measly Wii ‘bit’ kicks in. The free-roaming park gets the boot, as does the ‘experiment and see’ approach to puzzle solving – it’s always obvious from level furniture exactly what is required of you. Mostly unharmed are the set pieces. Though graphically simpler, the notion of haring along a collapsing New York avenue still dazzles, as does an ambitious opener that funnels you through office blocks as they tumble like dominoes. The Wii game even tries some neat action sections of its own. Trying to free a car from the tendrils of an assailant sees Alone in the Dark at its oh-so-sweary best, as does a terrific blood bag-lobbing boss fight in an ambulance.

But these events are few and far between, and the odd hateful set pieces will surely outlast them in your memory. The runaway forklift truck, a foray into a confusing forest labyrinth seemingly textured with dog scat, the god-awful steering and instant-death restarts of a car chase – during these moments you’ll thank the gaming lords for the ‘scene skipping’ mechanic. It’s designed to jump you past hard bits, but you’ll end up relying on it to get past broken bits. But similarly, there’s nothing stopping you skipping to the good bits. Want to see the game at its 80%-scoring best? Track down a friend silly enough to buy it and enjoy Alone in the Dark for its best ten minutes. Then turn off the game, and sigh for what could have been.

Jul 2, 2008

More info

DescriptionThis survival-horror game isn't quite what it should have been - but when those credits finally roll we're quietly confident that you'll have got your money's worth... Just about.
Franchise nameAlone in the Dark
UK franchise nameAlone in the Dark
Platform"Xbox 360","PC","PS2","PS3","Wii"
US censor rating"Mature","Mature","Mature","Mature","Mature"
UK censor rating"18+","18+","18+","18+","18+"
Alternative names"AitD","Alone in the Dark: Inferno (PS3)"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)