Summary: With its episodic plot, does Eden Games survival horror game live up to its predecessors?
Alone Again, Naturally
So itís hard to believe that this reinvisioning ditches everything that made the original great. I have to wonder if anyone with Eden Games is even old enough to have played the first Alone in the Dark when it came out 16 years ago. The subtle, often literary spooks of the original have been dumped for a ripoff of a Michael Bay action flick. This version of Edward Carnby is a scarred-up muscle man as ruggedly handsome and foulmouthed as the standard action-movie hero. Weíre a long way from the original gameís stuffed-shirt detective who had no problem admitting that he way out of his league when tackling the forces of evil.
Setting is even more typical to a Hollywood eyeglazer. Carnby isnít alone in the dark at all here. Heís smack dab in the middle of New York City, battling a supernatural invasion alongside lots of other people. Many of them are zombies, or humans with the shelf life of a Star Trek redshirt, but stillÖwhat part of ďaloneĒ did you not get, Eden? Carnby even has a hot babe sidekick for virtually the entire game.
Itís pretty obvious that Eden modeled the characters and story on a formulaic Grade B action flick, not the original Alone in the Dark, which the devs apparently felt was too idiosyncratic to sell a game to consolers in 2008. Sure, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer, but sheesh. If youíre going to dumb things down this much and change the core concepts of the original franchise to make everything unrecognizable, do us old-time fans a favor and donít piggyback your new game on a famous name that actually means something to people.
Awkward mechanics make it impossible to appreciate even this dimwitted action. Alone in the Darkís controls are as horrific as the plotline, due largely to a third-person camera that constantly jumps to the worst possible views of situations. I lost track of the number of times the camera shifted to either totally obscure a jump or give me such a terrible view that I was doomed to screw it up a half-dozen times before fluking my way to success. The camera also canít be rotated independently of protagonist Carnby. You can only move it in a narrow viewing cone in the direction which he is looking at the time, so youíre stuck tediously shuffling around to get a proper look at areas. Which is sensible, given that even supernatural detectives canít see out of the backs of their heads, yet still deeply annoying because most games allow full range of vision just moving the right analog stick. You can ditch the third-person view for an on-demand first-person camera, but this isnít a sensible option because the angle jumps back to third-person every time you line up a jump, grab a hanging wire, or even watch a cutscene.
Even when you can see whatís going on, stiff and unresponsive controls make it hard to maneuver Carnby past the gameís many pitfalls and obstacles. I found it ridiculously easy to fall off ledges even when I was just trying to go from Point A to Point B. Some of the gameís control gimmicks are annoying, too. Itís great that youíre able to pick up random junk like chairs and rakes to use as weapons, but it can be difficult to use them effectively in brawls because you have to swing them by rolling the right analog stick in an awkward fashion. Carnby frequently has to blink to clear his vision during fights when blood gets in his eyes or at other points when his sight is obscured. Cool on paper, I suppose, but pointless busy work in reality. Access to Carnbyís inventory is through looking down at his belt and picking from the objects holstered there. This is another promising concept that doesnít come off well. Twitchy controls make it tough to grab the item that you want and the game doesnít pause while youíre navel-gazing, which means that you can easily get killed while fooling around with a gun or a flashlight.
Dumb Story and Setting: