#216 Alone In The Dark

Posted: 12th April 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

231st played so far

Genre: Survival Horror
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Infogrames
Publisher: Infogrames

Now here’s a game that I vaguely remember. Not as much playing it personally, but I had a friend who had this game and played through it quite a bit. There was shooting and there were zombies and that was all awesome and exciting when you’re twelve years old.

With its early 3D graphics though, the game isn’t going to look that impressive – I remember the 3D to be nice at the time, but I’ve been disillusioned before. 3D just hasn’t always held up.

Our Thoughts

We’ve slowly been making our way through the survival horror games (very slowly because we need to play them when the sun is out). As we did, we noticed an overlap with other genres in each of them. Gregory Horror Show was an adventure. Dead Rising an FPS. Resident Evil, a mix between those two. For Alone in the Dark, we’re back to an adventure again.

This is no real surprise, when you look at the year this game was released. It’s the first survival horror in the book, released in 1992, and one of the first in its genre. While there are earlier games that handle suspense and puzzle-solving, this game set the environment and story telling used by many of the early successors – you can clearly see where Resident Evil took its cues from this game, from the abandoned house to static camera angles and partial overlap in weapons.

While it shows, the game comes together as a suspenseful adventure, with the horror elements you want and some panicky moment, starting with the creatures that creep up on you on the first screen. You can avoid them, but it’s scary – especially in some of the chase scenes. It is interesting how they make sure you can get through this game successfully by only having to kill less than ten enemies. Others can be destroyed by solving puzzles but there are some that you just have to run away from, such as a giant worm inspired by creatures from Lovecraft’s mythology. Possibly the more famous of these enemies are those that can be seen in our screen capture. The ghosts waltzing to Danse Macabre are a nightmare. They move randomly and if they touch you you die. You can get lucky and make it through first time… but more likely you will scream in frustration as these china figurines make your life hell.

That’s true for the puzzles and the small but present story. Other parts have aged enough that they’re not as good. The game is set up as a 3D game – while a lot is pre-rendered with the set camera angle, the character models are all 3D. And while they try, and obviously this predates any sort of 3D acceleration, it does look crap. The werewolf is only recognisable due to vaguely brown fur and the zombies don’t look very human… although probably just as human as the main character.

Where it shows more, however, is a place where it’s less forgivable – the controls. You can play with terrible graphics, but this is where it feels like the game isn’t cooperating. Not working against you to add tension, but just in a way that makes the game less fun. Pushing things, for example, is accurate and it’s hard to push in the right direction. Camera angles suddenly change, in a way that don’t work, because they hide your character or don’t show enough depth. These are techniques that can work if used right, but here feel like a simple gameplay annoyance.

Final Thoughts

One more survival horror and statistically we will back to where we should be… probably doesn’t help that we have been focusing a lot on MMORPGs lately.

Still, this is one of the few survival horrors where I was pretty much guarenteed to not freak out at any given moment. The fact that I have a slight zombie phobia (or kinemortophobia) does not help with this line of gaming.

  1. […] while ago, when talking about Alone in the Dark, we discussed how all survival horrors had their own second genre. We quoted that game as an […]

  2. […] there’s the other side of the surprises. Some games just turned out not to be as good. Alone in the Dark just wasn’t as good as I remember – just because of how it aged. I can’t blame it […]

  3. […] the atmosphere that takes the game from the genre mashup it normally is (as we talked about in Alone in the Dark) and actually makes it a horror […]