Alone in the Dark Review Featured

Alone in the Dark Review | Gramps Still Has The Touch

Lights out

Despite being a strong candidate for a remake for over a decade, the original Alone in the Dark from 1992 never had the chance to shine in modern generations. Not until now, I mean. The first project was canceled back in 2013, and it took a while until THQ Nordic and Pieces Interactive could work together to breathe some new life into the franchise.

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Now with a new developer-publisher duo backing it up, the 2024 version of Alone in the Dark pays homage to the original survival horror game that inspired many others to come. It brings back the same locations and names you might’ve seen before but with some new (and very tasty) spice added to the mix.

It’s Just Me, Myself and I

Alone in the Dark kicks off with private detective Edward Carnby driving his client Emily Hartwood to Derceto mansion, a rehab that houses the most eccentric figures, such as the antagonistic chief director Dr. Gray, the overly flirty Ruth (who deserves a whole game for herself), and, of course, our beloved resident creepy child Grace.

Emily receives a strange letter from her uncle Jeremy who’s currently a patient in Derceto, and as the last family member who actually cares about him, she rushes to his side alongside Detective Carnby, who’s here just to make sure nothing’s out of order. Turns out Jeremy is missing, so it falls to the duo to find out what happened to him.

While exploring Jeremy’s room, the barrier between worlds is broken and the chosen protagonist is thrown into a distorted version of the French Quarters in New Orleans, filled with unspeakable terrors and filthy creatures out for your blood.

By harnessing the mysterious talisman power that Jeremy is seemingly using, the protagonist rushes through the man’s twisted dreams and the equally uncanny reality trying to find out the truth behind his disappearance and his so-called trauma: the Dark Man.

Reality shatters ever further as creatures start invading your safe havens and give you no time to relax. You find yourself in a series of unexplainable events, and all that’s left is to keep heading forward, leaving no stone unturned as you seek the answers. Derceto’s staff is not to be trusted either, so beware.

The campaign is roughly the same regardless of which character you pick, but interactions will be widely different and certain areas are exclusive to either Edward or Emily. Each character has their own personal arc to go through, and both sides of the tale can give you goosebumps if that’s what you’re looking for.

“I’ll say it again: you never feel truly safe in Derceto as darkness constantly invites itself to your room, bringing a perfect balance between tension and immersion alongside it.”

As expected, two playthroughs are necessary to get the full picture of what’s happening inside this god-forsaken mansion. Both protagonists interact occasionally, but they find themselves unaccompanied in the obscure most of the time.

And it couldn’t be done better. The lone, somber ambiance helps immensely in building a climax as you’re suddenly thrown into a completely new, warped reality. Bonus points for when that happens randomly as you’re chilling in the mansion. I’ll say it again: you never feel truly safe in Derceto as darkness constantly invites itself to your room, bringing a perfect balance between tension and immersion alongside it.

Old School Terror is the Best

The Derceto mansion is a perfect encapsulation of the 20s/30s aesthetic they’re going for here, and I just happen to be a huge sucker for it. It feels terrifying to explore Dercerto, but it’s almost like this huge mansion is always inviting you to its deepest corners the more time you spend in its labyrinth-like area.

More locations open up as you progress, all of them with that real-life haunted mansion charm. We have the creepy attic, the unsettling art pieces, mysterious locked rooms, and a broken piano that fell from a higher floor lying in the middle of a room. Just what the doctor ordered.

Exploring the mansion is refreshing and engaging. There’s always something new to explore, and areas don’t even get time to become old due to the game’s length (which is ideal, to be honest). You also have plenty of well-thought puzzles and mysteries to solve, tuned to a perfect difficulty in which they’re not impossible but aren’t a pushover either. And you also get the option of extra tips to help you solve them faster, if you want to.

While the original Alone in the Dark is regarded as one of the main influences for Resident Evil, the series’ remakes were the influence here instead. It all came full circle! Exploration feels quite similar to the newer versions of the games, albeit a bit clunkier. Enemies often come in small packs, and your options are to face them directly or sneak your way through using items you can find in the environment.

Combat is done via gunfire or melee weapons, with many throwables at your disposal. You find new guns as you advance, but they all still feel equally useful as you progress as certain enemies are better fought with certain types of armament. There’s more than enough variety here considering how secondary combat is compared to investigation.

The nightmarish maps have plenty of ammo and health drinks to keep you “safe”, but don’t feel bad if you still shake a little. Those special sections are all packed with a heavy atmosphere made possible through an astonishing synastry work between visuals and sounds. It looks and sounds scary.

Unfortunately, I found some of these dream sections quite uninspired or outright tedious to explore. Puzzles were fine, but they lacked variety after a while.

As the mansion features some bone-chilling moments and even combat to a certain extent, Derceto moments are easily the best the game has to offer. One huge exception, however, is your first encounter with the Dark Man. It’s simple, quick and efficient. And yet nothing I could do would’ve prepared me for that. Pure terror – done right.

Darkness Lurks in Every Corner

While there’s a lot to praise here, there’s also room for some complaints, such as the game’s inconsistent performance. Most scenarios have an outstanding view and character models are on point, but the game lacks some polish regarding gameplay.

Clipping was a huge issue through my playthroughs, even though I eventually “learned” how to avoid that. I clipped into objects when going for a clue/resource more times than I could count, and it was always a struggle to break free. When it wasn’t me clipping into something, it was an enemy. Lucky me, I guess?

There were also times when my UI simply vanished and I couldn’t interact with anything, only for the problem to seemingly go away by itself a few seconds later. Except when it didn’t. At first, I thought it was a scripted event or something, but loading a save file proved me wrong. These were small annoyances that can (and probably will) be fixed by launch, but I can’t shake off the feeling that there was some room for improvement in that department.

But all in all, the game still provides a satisfying narrative at the end of the day. I have certain grips with it, but it still provides all answers if you dedicate yourself to exploration. And honestly, it was a great ride very worth its time.

Both protagonists are engaging enough to make subsequent playthroughs feel less like a chore due to new findings and perspectives. Both work well enough as either the hero or the sidekick and have some neat moments for themselves. David Harbour, in particular, rubs off all of that adorable douchebag energy to Edward, and it’s awesome.

Alone in the Dark is the perfect call if you’re looking for a chill-yet-chilling horror game to play on your break. Its engaging storyline keeps you hooked well enough up to the final climax and it knows the right moment to stop. Few games know how to do that, and I respect the hell out of those that do.

It manages to respectfully reboot the original continuity while still keeping the series’ mythos with many nods and direct references to previous games, but it respects its own boundaries and never oversteps into bringing nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy my trip to Decerto as much as I did. Won’t you visit the mansion anytime soon?

8
Alone in the Dark
Alone in the Dark is a perfect example of how to reboot a series without deviating too much from original source nor shying away from a new direction. If you're looking for some spooky vibes, you found them.
Pros
  • A thrilling mystery with terrifying creatures and interesting twists
  • Puzzles and exploration to satisfy your inner detective
  • The perfect length for the story it wants to tell
  • Amazing immersion in every possible area
Cons
  • Performance issues can break said immersion really fast
  • Repeating playthroughs can get boring after a while
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC.

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Author
Patrick Souza
Patrick has been working for Prima since 2022 and joined as a Staff Writer in 2023. He's been interested in gaming journalism since college, and that was the path he took once he had his degree in hands. Diligently ignores his ever-growing backlog to keep raiding in Final Fantasy XIV, exploring in Genshin Impact or replaying some of his favorite RPGs from time to time. Loves tackling hard challenges in games, but his cats are still the hardest bosses he could ask for.