Alone in the Dark Review – A Rapturous Resurrection

Alone in the Dark Review

Alone in the Dark is one of the forefathers of the survival horror genre. Emerging from the shadows in 1992, the franchise has spawned numerous titles that delve into the human psyche. After a maze of hits and misses, Pieces Interactive aims to resurrect the franchise with a reimagining of the original adventure. Will this return to the harrowing mansion manage to capture the essence of fear that made the original games so iconic?

Set in the American South, Emily acquires the support of private investigator, Edward Carnby and heads to the Derceto Manor in search of her uncle. Upon arrival at the institute that specializes in mental health, events quickly spiral out of control as the duo tries to unearth the secrets within. Due to the eerie setting, there is an overwhelming atmosphere that places you in a constant state of dread as each step echoes in the barren corridors. The mansion itself takes on a character of its own as it morphs throughout your journey. At times you are thrown into visions where the environment transforms in front of your very eyes making you question reality.

There Are Two Sides to Every Story

Emily and Edward differ in terms of personality which makes both of their campaigns feel unique. David Harbour embodies the bitter, downtrodden detective adding a grounded perspective to the supernatural events, whereas Jodie Cormer has a melancholic aura that engulfs her perception of events. Their facial capture is brilliant and allows for subtle expressions to communicate their emotions. Unfortunately, the care and attention does not filter into the supporting cast. The voice acting, however, is strong throughout. Each note and clue you discover is read in that Southern drawl by the relevant character, giving further insight into the demented history of Derceto. Although the main storyline for each protagonist remains consistent, the sequence and approach to events differ, making it advisable for a second playthrough.

The mansion itself is a thrill to explore and falling between worlds adds variety to the adventure. Each location you visit further develops the narrative and delivers memorable segments that elevate the experience. At the core of each area are some of the best puzzles within the genre. Unlike modern titles, Alone in the Dark doubles down on these segments with a variety of conundrums that require careful consideration to complete. These are perfectly pitched to offer enough challenge but won’t prevent progression.

Devious Design

The intuitively designed map indicates the location of puzzles, rooms that still have items of interest and more. Due to this, you always have spaces to revisit to advance the story. You can turn all of these options off with the old school mode or keep them available with the modern option. While both work very well, I prefer the modern variant as it allows you to venture to the correct room but leaves you to work out the puzzles on your own. Other extras include difficulty options, visual filters and the ability to switch to the original character models. The directors’ commentary is also a nice addition as it delves into the ethos behind design decisions and much more.

When you do encounter demonic beasts, you will need to vanquish them with a weapon. You can bash in their brains with a melee attack or use one of the standard guns to spit bullets into their body. While both suffice, they feel dated and fail to capture the ferocity of hand-to-hand combat or the fluidity when drawing a gun. In addition to ammunition scattered around the environment, you’ll come across Molotov Cocktails and flammable bottles. With these, you can set up traps or set creatures alight spreading fire across the terrain. Although the effects are impressive, the meandering pace when you pick up a throwable item is a little off-putting.

Nailing the 1920s Southern Gothic

Each facet of the presentation is richly diverse and meticulously crafted. Cinematic light accentuates set-piece backdrops, instantly transforming your mental state. While the game never attains the same level of fear that you may experience in other titles in the genre, it maintains an unsettling ambiance that keeps you engrossed in the world. The 1920s setting and Jazz-infused soundtrack give the game its own personality that horror enthusiasts will adore.

Alone in the Dark is an impressive reimagining that successfully revitalizes the franchise. Instead of leaning into the action elements that have become more prevalent in the genre, Pieces Interactive respects its DNA by opting to focus on the puzzle aspect of the adventure. As a result, the game carves its own niche which will lure fans of the genre. Although the action segments feel a little rigid and dated, the conundrums are well thought out and a highlight of the experience which helps to make this a must for horror addicts.

***A PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Well Designed Puzzles
  • Varied Adventure
  • Strong Performances

The Bad

  • Combat is a Little Rigid
  • Very Slow Movement With Molotovs
  • Inconsistent Facial Capture Quality