GamesAnalysis of Alone in the Dark - He knows what he has...

Analysis of Alone in the Dark – He knows what he has to do, but he doesn’t take it to its ultimate consequences

With one eye on the original Alone in the Dark and another on the Resident Evil remakes, the game works, but fails to be as memorable as it could be.

Resident Evil is a franchise that has changed the rules of the game twice. The first was with the original, defining what survival horror was and creating a specific way of conceiving terror that continues, even today, to be one of the predominant currents of the genre. The second was with the remake of Resident Evil 2. Remaking and bringing the original formula to the present, but with a contemporary design perspective, it has defined if not the ideal, at least the minimum of what a remake must be to be considered truly good. .

That doesn’t mean every game should apply its formula. Not even that they should do it in the same way as Resident Evil. Especially because what the remakes of Resident Evil do well is respect what the originals did, giving themselves the space to be a more current version of the same ideas, without trying to replace them. Something that Alone in the Dark achieves only to a certain extent.

From its name – Alone in the Dark, simply – it might seem that we are facing a remake in the style of Capcom games. A title that seeks to return to the past, to 1992, to give a facelift to a mythical game that the current player, accustomed to the sensitivity of the present, can enjoy. In fact, it would make perfect sense to do so: it is difficult to conceive the existence of Resident Evil, or survival horror in general, without Alone in the Dark. The thing is, this game, even if its name seems to indicate otherwise, is not exactly that.

Alone in the Dark is a reboot. Or neither. He takes the bases of the original, adapting, changing and shaping his own idea. A game well established in the present that owes an obvious debt to the original, but is not exactly the same.

There are, however, powerful similarities in their premises. In Alone in the Dark, both 1992 and 2024, Emily Hartwood and private investigator Edward Carnby go to the Derceto mansion after her uncle, Jeremy Hartwood, has left this world. Now, everything that comes from here, and even what it means to “leave this world”, is something that changes radically between both games.

In the 2024 game, we receive a letter stating that Jeremy is in danger; In the original, he has committed suicide before the events of the game. Here Edward and Emily go to the mansion together, the former being hired by the latter; There, each of them went separately for a different reason, Emily’s being to discover the reasons for her uncle’s suicide and Edward’s to find a piano for which they will pay him a huge sum of money. And although the Decerto mansion is now a psychiatric hospital, it was then the Hartwood family home.

Because the game, rather than changing things, adapts them. It doesn’t break with what the 1992 title did but rather twists it. It seeks to create not only a certain distance from the original, but also to generate its own foundations for an apparently more profound and current proposal. Perfectly imitating those elements that have made the work a classic.

We are going slow. Our shooting accuracy is minimal. Our hand-to-hand combat is crude and clumsy. Resources are scarce. The puzzles are built from information in the environment and the documents we find. All of this is exactly what the original Alone in the Dark did, whether intentionally or due to its limitations. But instead of taking those frictions and applying them as is, imitating that design, it translates them into an acceptable equivalent in 2024.

Our movement is slow, but that slowness is situational. We can sprint, but we will make more noise that will alert our enemies, just as we will be noticeably slower if we walk backwards or to the sides than forwards. We shoot without much precision, but only if we insist on fighting against common sense. Shooting while walking makes the reticle gigantic, while standing and shooting will ensure that our bullets are very effective at short and medium range. And that’s where Alone in the Dark works: in creating situations that feel limiting, but without actively limiting ourselves. It creates friction that feels natural to work around, making it interesting to play with the game, not against the game.

This is helped by the many difficulties available. The difficulty levels are not particularly stimulating, changing the parameters of the characters and the resources found on the stage, but the second selector that the game presents to us is. One that allows us to choose between a modern and a classic mode for the puzzles.

In modern mode, we have many more helps available. The parts of the texts that indicate how to solve a certain puzzle are highlighted, both the characters and the game give us more clues and, in addition, important objects are highlighted on the screen. Classic mode lacks all of these aids, offering us an experience closer to what veterans of the genre expect. And for those who need a comfortable middle ground, all Modern Mode options can be activated and deactivated separately at any time during the game.

This is how Alone in the Dark ensures that the problem of current games where they take us too much or too little by the hand does not exist. Those who need more assistance simply activate it in the menu for a more guided experience. For those who prefer a more classic form of the genre, they can play on the standard difficulty, something perfectly viable thanks to the intelligence and clarity of well-thought-out puzzles and deliciously contained maps.

Analysis of Alone in the Dark - He knows what he has to do, but he doesn't take it to its ultimate consequences

But it is not limited to that. The exploration, the puzzles, the combat: everything is satisfying in this Alone in the Dark. The setting is suitably sinister, the game has the potential to scare horror-sensitive people, and the work of David Harbor and Jodie Comer as Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood respectively gives their characters a humanity and depth we rarely see in the game. videogame. All thanks to the body communication and voice inflection that they provide thanks to their work as actors.

That it is so easy to praise its elegance in most aspects makes it even more painful that it feels like the game falls short of being a true genius. Of being able to capture everything that was the original without leaving anything behind.

Although narratively Alone in the Dark is excellent, its script ends up rambling in a way that is even comical. During the parts of the story where it keeps the focus on the characters, the game is notable. When it focuses on the setting and lore, the game is excellent. But when he has to string the story together and close it, he chooses to combine too many concepts that do not fit well together.

The game itself seems to want to juggle a panoply of villains and concepts that end up being explained only if we look at the game’s lore and unlockables, and the result is a weak story that quickly falls apart in the second half of the game. If we also take into consideration that it is necessary to beat the game at least twice to see the full picture of the story, this only makes the whole thing worse.

Analysis of Alone in the Dark - He knows what he has to do, but he doesn't take it to its ultimate consequences

A shame because, in fact, it is very interesting to play with each of the characters. Edward and Emily have different settings, although only one of the chapters changes radically from one to the other, and each of them has their own dialogues, clues, and even places that the other never gets to see. The problem is that after finishing the story, it is possible that, particularly fans of Lovecraftian literature, they will not feel like going around again to see the other side of the story. Even less come back even more times to discover the different alternative endings of it.

A weak script might be forgivable, especially thanks to the strength of its narrative, but the game’s problems don’t end there. Even if we have celebrated its use of friction, the reality is that the game falls very short in this aspect. The best possible example is Alone in the Dark: Prologue, which serves as a demo and prologue for the full game. In Prologue we find fascinating mechanical uses such as walking much slower and irregularly on a stuffed bear, showing the possibilities of the game when it really focuses on one of the pillars of horror: limiting our interaction with the world. But we do not find this mechanic so well developed in the final game. Something that shows that the people at Pieces Interactive were aware of the possibilities of creating more friction, opening up the opportunity to make the game, as the original was, even more suffocating.

This questionable script, but with a well-crafted narrative, and some frictions that bring the sensations of the original to the present, but without going as far as to take them as far as it would need to live up to it, is what separates Alone in the Dark from be an excellent game. It remains a good game, a title that survival horror fans will enjoy, even justifying playing more than once to see everything. To experience it all. But Alone in the Dark didn’t need to be Resident Evil 2 Remake. And in trying to be, in that move too far from the original Alone in the Dark, is where it loses its opportunity to embrace glory.

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