Bringing old gaming brands back to life has often gone wrong in the past. 30 years after the first part of Alone in the Dark, THQ wants to do it better with their “love letter to the original”.
If a game has absolutely nothing extraordinary to offer, you can make it part of a larger game series without further ado. This happened around 2012, when Konami with Book of Memories develop a dungeon crawler and connect it somehow with the Silent Hill-merged the universe. Or the crappy Escape Dead Islandin which the publisher Koch Media, who has since been renamed Plaion, wanted to benefit from the popular name of the open-world zombie shooter.
At the new Alone in the dark by the Swedish developer Pieces Interactive, such abuse of brand names is apparently not to be feared. Because like the presentation of the developers and the playable teaser on the Gamescom 2022 make it clear, a horror adventure awaits us that is modern but at the same time based on classic elements.
Back to Derceto Manor
The developers of Alone in the Dark deliberately do not speak of a remake, but of a love letter to the first part of the series, which was published in 1992. Because there are parallels, for example, in the form of the location, the Derceto Manor in the US state of Louisiana, which now serves as a mental institution for the rich, according to some. Also very similar is the choice to experience the story as either Emily Hartwood or Private Investigator Edward Carnby. Even the piano, in which a hint waits quite early in the original, appears. However, it is no longer in the attic, but has broken through the ceiling from there and lies shattered on the floor of a stately lounge.
However, you will not simply experience the exact same thing again in Alone in the Dark, with better graphics and enriched with modernized game mechanics. The story, which is narratively part of the films of David Lynch is basically completely new and revolves not least around the so-called “dark man”, who is somehow connected to Emily’s uncle Jeremy, on whose alleged suicide the plot of the original is based.
|The new Alone in the Dark includes Derceto Manor, which is now a mental institution for the rich.|
However, the developers attach great importance to the fact that the experience is strongly based on that of the original, i.e. gameplay elements that are otherwise avoided play a central role in modern games. So there should also be “challenging puzzles” and generally a balanced mixture of cinematically staged story, worthwhile exploration, but also intense, or as the producer calls it, “desperate” fights against horrible creatures.
Alone in the Dark should not feel like an ordinary third-person shooter and should never drift in the direction of terror horror in this area either. The aim is that the players are afraid for their hero’s life and not just spit everything away with their gun and then carry on as if nothing had happened. To what extent you can or even have to avoid combat in order to have a real chance of survival – an important aspect of the original – has not yet become clear to me. The first fight scene snippets don’t seem particularly attractive to me (besides the cool monster design). The “shooting sequences” remind me more of The Sinking City at the moment, and that’s not necessarily a seal of approval. But wait and see: the game has only been in development since the end of 2019 and has just reached alpha status. Until the release date, which is not even roughly scheduled for a year, there is probably still some time to make adjustments to the fights.
Atmospheric in a linear world
In any case, what I like about Alone in the Dark is the graphic style and the general atmosphere, which seems to be much darker than in the original. Some elements are obviously from HP Lovecraft inspired, but also the feature film (also set in Louisiana). Angel Heart name the creators as a source of inspiration. I can’t really say much about the actual story, but Michael Hedbergwho previously played a very similar role in Frictional Games’ spooky adventures Amnesia-The Dark Descent and soma (in the test: grade 7.0) as a story writer and design director sounds like a perfect match to me. Something similar could happen for the Dutch musician Jason Koehnen apply, whose dark jazz sounds will acoustically underline the story set in the 1920s.
Although the property itself and the surrounding area have become significantly larger and should offer some freedom when exploring, there will probably be no open-world tendencies and there will also be a more linear progression. It should probably be possible to voluntarily return to parts of the area that have already been visited later. However, the developers officially reject the backtracking, which is otherwise quite widespread in the genre.
The story itself will also be quite linear at its core and at most make you think of Quantic Dream in terms of the ending. However, if you want to experience the entire story and discover all the secrets, you will probably have to play through Alone in the Dark at least twice. Because in addition to other dialogues and cutscenes, there will be some clear differences between the story variants with Edward and Emily, for example NPCs that only appear in one of the two paths. The developers don’t want to give a clear answer as to whether there will be interfaces where the two will meet directly in the course of the story.
|Players of the original from 1992 already know this piano. In the beginning, however, it was still in the attic.|