|Details (IBM PC)
||Artwork and Media
Minimum Memory Required:
Country of Release:
Action Adventure / Horror
Eden Studios, Frédérick Raynal, Franck De Girolami, Didier Chanfray, Yael Barroz, Jean Marc Torroella
80286 (386 if using CD-ROM version), DOS 3.1, MCGA/VGA
Adlib, Covox, Disney Sound Source, SoundBlaster/Pro
3.5" Floppy disk
Alone in the Dark 2
User Manual, CD-version patch
to submit artwork
|Videos||Screenshots (IBM PC)|
to submit a screenshot
Added: 24 May 2011
In 1924, Jeremy Hartwood, a noted artist and the owner of the Louisiana mansion Derceto, has committed suicide by hanging himself. His death appears suspicious yet seems to surprise no-one, for Derceto is widely reputed to be haunted by an evil power. The case is quickly dealt with by the police and soon forgotten by the public. The player assumes the role of either Edward Carnby - a private investigator who is sent to find a piano in the loft for an antique dealer - or Emily Hartwood, Jeremy's niece, who is also interested in finding the piano because she believes a secret drawer in it has a note in which Jeremy explains his suicide. The player, either as Carnby or Hartwood, goes to the mansion to investigate. As the player enters the house, the doors mysteriously slam shut behind him or her. Reluctantly, he or she continues up to the attic. In that room, the action begins.
Seconds after the game allows the player to take control of their character, monsters will make their first attack. The player must then progress back down through the house, fighting off various creatures and other hazards in the house, including a whole staff of staggering zombies and various monsters (not all of which can be killed), booby-traps and arcane books, in order to solve the mystery of Derceto and find a way out.
It is eventually explained through documents found throughout the game that the house was built by an occultist pirate named Ezechiel Pregzt, and beneath the house are caverns that were used for dark rituals and other occult doings. The overall goal of these rituals was to increase his fortunes and unnaturally extend his life. Pregzt's original body was incapacitated after he was shot and Derceto was burned down by encamped Union soldiers during the American Civil War. However, Pregzt's spirit lived on within his dried-up corpse, and had been placed by his servants in an old tree in the caverns underneath Derceto (which is, as Pregzt explains in one of many books lying around the house, an alternate name for Astarte or Shub-Niggurath). It would be possible for him to regenerate himself, though that requires a living body. Jeremy Hartwood committed suicide to prevent being used for this purpose; so Pregzt now focuses his energies on the player.
 Edward Carnby
Main article: Edward Carnby
A supernatural private investigator who is sent to a Louisiana mansion to find a Piano for Jeremy Hartwood's niece who believes it to hold his suicide note. As soon as Edward enters the house, the doors slam shut but the persistent Edward continues his search and battles several paranormal apparitions in the process.
 Emily Hartwood
A niece of Derceto's last owner: alternative protagonist to Carnby, she goes on to become an actress and appears in the third game.
 Jeremy Hartwood
Last owner of Derceto mansion. Professional artist. Horrified by nightmares, which were in fact Pregzt's attempts to possess him, hanged himself in the loft. Jeremy's father, Howard Hartwood, bought Derceto's ruins in 1875, rebuilt it as it had been before fire, and later unearthed and explored its underground tunnels.
 Ezechiel Pregzt
Given name Bloody Ezech. Reportedly the bloodiest pirate in all the Seven Seas. Anchored his ship Astarte near New Orleans, Louisiana. Made a hideout in a swamp, but ultimately was hanged in 1620 by Welsh Naval conscripts. Was reborn as Eliah Pickford. Now, his spirit lives underneath the Derceto Mansion, waiting to live again by possessing a living, human host and unleash darkness upon the world.
Edward Carnby as seen in the game.
Players are given the option of choosing between a male or female protagonist (Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood respectively), and are then trapped inside the haunted mansion of Derceto after dark. The player character starts in the attic (the place of Jeremy's suicide by hanging), having ascended to the top of the mansion without incident, and is then tasked with exploring the mansion in order to find a way out while avoiding, outsmarting or defeating various supernatural enemies including slave zombies, giant bipedal rat-like creatures, and other even more bizarre foes. Though starting with no weapons except fists and feet, the player character can find, and utilise, weapons such as firearms, kitchen knives, and swords.
However, combat only plays a partial role in the gameplay. For example, the total number of slave zombies throughout the entire game is only about a dozen, and many opponents can be beaten by solving a particular puzzle rather than a straight fight - indeed, a significant number of opponents cannot be killed. Much of the game involves exploration and puzzle-solving, and searching the house for clues to advance the story and learn more about what happened before the player's arrival.
The story is revealed to the player through an extensive series of books and notes found throughout the game, and is heavily influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. The setting for the story is inspired by Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". Grimoires found in the mansion's library include the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis, both taken from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Other Mythos references include books that feature the narrated history of Lord Boleskine, a direct reference to another Infogrames Cthulhu Mythos-based game, Shadow of the Comet, and the last name of player character Edward Carnby, a reference to John Carnby, a character in the mythos tale Return of the Sorcerer by Clark Ashton Smith. Several of the supernatural opponents are recognizable creatures from the Mythos, including Deep Ones, Nightgaunts and a Chthonian.
Added: 19 Apr 2012
"Love it or Hate it, it's Ambitious and Unique"
Alone in the Dark - those four words bring back memories, and a fair bit of nostalgia for a different time. Forget generations, that was a different era of gaming, and to hear that an old favorite was making a re-appearance with the shiny, lemon-scented goodies of modern games nearly brought a tear to my eye as I stared off into the distance in recollection. Then my friend, who had just told me about the game, screamed at me to keep my eyes on the road, and I snapped out of it. In retrospect, that was quite a prophetic moment, but we'll get to that a bit later. As trailers crept their way out onto the information highway, my spirits and expectations soared, and I began to wonder if this game might, present a perfected, progressive installation in the "Survival Horror" genre. Unfortunately, as you've undoubtedly gathered from message boards and "professional" rating sites, perfect this ain't.
Assigning a numeric value to my opinion of this game is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Okay, maybe not "ever," but it's at least one of the most difficult things I've done this week. So here goes my vain attempt to justify a seven on a game that is one of, if not the most divisive of the current generation.
Alone in the Dark is pretty. Playing it on a high-end PC will give you a very impressive graphical experience, but there are better. Characters can look very artificial from up-close, and skin textures, in the right lighting, can look like plastic. It's never enough to make you serious look down on the graphics, and textures aside, the attention to detail is fantastic, so don't worry. Besides, whenever you're not up-close, the characters look just great, and I'm a fan of the designs - everyone passes for who they're supposed to be, from every-man tough guy to the (admittedly cliche) villain-in-black.
Monsters continue the trend of looking nice, but there just aren't that many of them. There are three types of humanoid enemies, with a handful of textures for the more common ones. Aside from these, there's only a couple other monsters, but it never begins to feel repetitive due to the excellent pacing between fights, but more on that in Gameplay. Still, more variety is rarely a bad thing.
Now for the star of the show: Central Park
If you've ever been there, and especially if you're a New Yorker, you're going to love how faithful they've been with the place. It's a dark and dreary version of the place, and very deformed, but you'll never forget where you are, and you'll probably recognize a landmark or two. Don't think that you have to visit the place in real life to get into it, though - the whole game is very atmospheric, and I found myself actually feeling "Alone in the Dark" on more than a few occasions.
Of further note is that a lot of textures here are starting to overcome that "pale and shiny" look that's plagued this generation of games since its onset. Little details are to be found everywhere, and there's enough of a difference between different sections of the park to make you begin to make your own landmarks and develop a sense of the place.
Special effects are the other big player here, and they're something to behold. Anyone who has followed the game knows that fire is the selling point here, and it's turned out great. Flame effects are not the best I've ever seen, but they are up there on the list, and considering what flame can DO in AitD, I can put that aside. The way fire spreads is, in my opinion, a beautifully balanced affair. It's not quite realistic - things catch on fire much more quickly than they do in the real world, but damnit if it doesn't fit the gameplay just right. More on that later.
Smoke effects are a mixed bag of some of the best I've seen and some that are unfortunately artificial, and often the biggest problem is when a "special" explosion or smoke cloud effect transitions into a lasting effect, at times a somewhat jerky event. Lighting is wonderful - the number of dynamic sources at work on screen can be quite impressive. Shadows can occasionally (especially with car interiors) suffer from that weird "brown and purple grainy" look, but nothing deal-breaking.
I'm playing this thing at max settings, and keeping a steady, respectable framerate throughout. I've only encountered four noticeable instances of texture pop-in, and very little object pop-in, and all of these were while driving at top speeds.
Not-so Arbitrary Score:
(Not the prettiest thing around, but damned good, and consistent about it. The atmosphere carries a lot of weight, and the dynamic lights and flame effects are some of the best I've seen - and even more impressive when you consider all that's going on in the background. A Nine or Ten would have had some more varied monsters and a bit better character graphics.)
Not as much sound in the game as I'd hoped for.
There's one main music track that plays in its many variations throughout much of the game, and honestly I didn't mind too much. That operatic quality, along with the beautiful voice/voices, really leaves room for a lot of variety to a single tune. There are other tracks as well, and when you hear them they usually hit just the right tone, but nothing other than that main song really stuck with me. Honestly, though, that's more than I can say for most games, so AitD is doing something right. I'm a bit torn: on one hand, I would have liked more silence while roaming the park, as this, interspersed with the occasional inhuman howl, would have built the atmosphere even further, but on the other hand, the game never hit me with a "wow this music is inappropriate" moment, so perhaps that would be buggering with something that doesn't need to be buggered with.
Voice acting is a mixed bag. For the most part, the lines are delivered well and realistically, and you definitely get a feel for the main characters (all two of them). The only real problems are the consistent efforts of Mr. Carnby to drop an expletive with every sentence. Don't get me wrong, if the world was falling apart around me I'd be swearing like a sailor (mostly because I'm pretty sure they don't let you do it in Heaven and you're too busy screaming in Hell), but I'd do it in an exclamatory way - I wouldn't carefully try to work it into each sentence of real conversation. It'd be more "**** that guy just stabbed me" and less "Hey doc, what's on the ******* screen?" (Okay, he never says that, but you get the idea)
Oh, and one of the endings has one of the worst examples of this I've ever seen - it's worth watching just for the brutal awkwardness of it in what should be a very serious moment.
Finally, sound effects are nothing special, really. Cars sound like cars, guns sound like guns, and explosions... well, okay, the explosion sounds are nice. One thing that does irk me is that sometimes crashing a car into something doesn't make any noise, and that's no fun.
Fairly arbitrary score:
(The game has some great music, but there's not enough ambiance, and as good as it is, I can't help but wonder if it could have been better. Sound effects are "meh," and the awkwardness of Carnby's lines takes a toll. Without the car-crash-with-no-sound thing and Carnby trying his best to lose the PG-13 rating, it probably would have gotten a Seven. An Eight or Nine would have had some outstanding SFX to go with the music, and a Ten would have nailed the ambiance in addition to the other things mentioned.)
Tougher category than usual here. Coming from someone who just barely remembers the old games, just seeing Carnby again is a heart-warming experience. Too bad he's gone and lost a couple decades of maturity in his manner of speaking, but what can you do? To sum it up, you are Edward Carnby, recently awoken from long coma, out to save the world because no-one else can.
The story in AitD is unfortunately pretty thin. There's just not enough of it, and what there is you'll find presented in a way that's disappointingly uninvolving. The game is bookended by sequences where this is not the case: the very beginning and the very end involve some wonderful sequences where you really feel like you're leading the action and driving forward towards a goal, but this gets lost in the middle. The story itself is standard adventure fair, including a magic rock, apocalyptic evil, and the phrase "I'm the key." It's all very cliche, but it presents itself in a way that encourages you to take it seriously, and you'll probably be interested enough to want to see what happens next.
Whether you're interested enough to stomach certain other... issues, however, is where you might find yourself drawing a line.
Fairly arbitrary score:
(Too many cliches and not enough characterization, but a tried-and-true plot makes it bearable, if dull. I really wish they'd played up the antagonism between Carnby and the guy in black (see, it's bad characterization when I can't even remember his name... or maybe I'm just getting on in years.) A five would have done away with one of the most glaring cliches (unfortunately I can't say which for fear of spoilers), and a six or seven would have just had... more: more dialogue, more characterization, more anything, just let me get to know these people and the situation better! An eight or higher would have thrown out the cliches and had a full, developed plot... perhaps even some socially relevant ideas *gasp*!)
At last, the section reviewers have been screaming about since this game dropped into their mailboxes (or torrent sites, if we're to listen to Atari), and this is where AitD draws a line in the sand. There are so many new mechanics in play here that it's actually tough to compare it to things that have come before, but I think we'll manage. As a Survival Horror game, AitD is all about, well, surviving, and this is expressed through several gameplay elements:
Your inventory is definitely the one thing you're going to come away from this game with and never forget. Your entire inventory is accessed in real-time, and it's all kept on your person - not some magic backpack or other incarnation of hammerspace. Carnby's jacket holds everything he can carry in three sections: the middle holds your pistol and flashlight, and cannot be modified, except when you get a better gun. The left side holds smaller objects such as bandages, rags, tape, bullet boxes, and various tools such as your knife and lighter. The right side holds larger objects like bottles, flares, and healing spray. You have a set number of slots for the left and right sides, and thus you have to manage what all you carry with you.
Want to carry an inordinate amount of ammo? You're going to have to use more than one slot on the left. Want a bunch of healing spray? That's less room for molotov cocktails. Since the real threats in the game can only be truly killed by fire, you are forced to keep a good mix of items on you - you'll typically want to have at least half your inventory dedicated to objects that can be used to build firebombs or otherwise set things alight. Trust me, you'll need it all.
Items in general are not hard to come by, but finding the right item can be. Healing sprays are not just laying around in the middle of the park - they're most commonly found in first aid kits indoors, which you may have a hard time locating. I never even came close to running out of bullets, but then again I did plenty of running away from enemies, and using the environment to kill them.
And this is where AitD is really interesting - the different ways to take down your foes. In most other games, environmental kills are either a "bonus" where they just look cool, or they're a one-time thing that makes your life temporarily easier. Not in AitD. Some of your best weapons are in the ruined world around you if you can keep your wits at the ready. A chair engulfed in flames smacked across an enemy's chest is often more lethal than a bullet. Going toe-to-toe with four monsters is a good way to burn through all your resources, unless you puncture a car's gas tank and send it flying towards them, lighting the trail of fuel at the right moment. You are given many solutions to most encounters, and success can be a very rewarding experience, especially if your plan worked perfectly.
AitD has some potential for sandbox gameplay. Central Park is open and freely navigable most of the time, but there's no real encouragement to do so other than for the aggravating fetch-quest and to get from point A to point B. Also, there's not too much in the way of secrets or goodies for explorers, and the more you wander, the more you'll have to deal with the awkward movement mechanics.
Carnby moves in a manner very reminiscent of Leon from RE4, over-the-shoulder view included, but it doesn't work as well here. In RE4 you were usually walking along a straight path, or at least a narrow one, so the awkward and slow turning didn't really matter. AitD features open environments and enemies that can come from any direction, which makes turning quickly a necessity and you'll have trouble doing it in close quarters. The ability to switch to first-person view is appreciated, and you'll likely do most of your fighting and precision movement in this mode. Jumping and rope controls are manageable; I have no big complaints there.
Unfortunately, the variety shown in other aspects of the game does not work its way into puzzles or the layout of indoor areas. There is usually just one solution to the problems you face, and this feels a little disappointing when shown alongside the varied fighting. It's understandable, though - I mean, half the items in the game are used more or less exclusively to create or manipulate fire, so using them in puzzles seems to be a pretty limiting approach (There are only so many ways to blow something up).
That said, some of the puzzles here are truly inventive, and will make you think. There are no "find the Jupiter emblem" quests here - every problem is visceral and logical. "How do I keep this bus from tipping over?" "How do I jump across this gap?" "How do I break through that wall?" And the solutions never feel contrived - they make sense, and are actually fairly intuitive to reach, if you actually think about them.
And then you get to the very end of the game and the two sequences that throw all of this out the window. It's really a disappointment when it hits, but it does: you are beset with one of the worst fetch quests ever conceived (it will likely take you two hours or more, depending on whether you've been doing extra work until this point), followed by a series of puzzles that, while entertaining and cool, completely eschew the whole "improvise your way to a solution" attitude that the game had been running with until this point. These two things combine to make the last third or fourth of the game very unsettling, and are enough to leave you with a sour taste as the credits roll (that the ending is frustrating does not help).
It should be noted that the game actually does not start in Central Park - and this is good, as the resulting (highly publicized by trailers) sequence is quite entertaining and very epic. You must escape a collapsing building by climbing through it and down the facade, and it works beautifully. The other shoe does fall, however, immediately afterwards, as the intro segues into one of the most appalling driving sections I've ever encountered. It's truly hard to believe that six of producer Eden Studios' seven previous games were driving games, because this is ridiculous.
First off, as a set-piece, you expect it to run smoothly, with fairly clear boundaries to stick to, ect... This is more or less true: you have a set path that you must follow, and set obstacles that appear when you hit certain invisible checkpoints. The driving itself is buggy and "soft;" it doesn't feel as though the car has any real weight to it, and steering is twitchy-at-best. All driving in the game is befallen with terrible clipping issues, where you might pass half your car through a giant boulder, but crash against a silly little curb or lamp-post immediately afterwards and be unable to move for ten seconds while you break loose. I agree with the complaint that other reviewers have been levying against this segment - a set-piece like this shouldn't be easy, but it shouldn't be so hard as to make many players have to redo it ten or more times in an effort to memorize where everything is, only to be foiled by the random movements of a fellow motorist. In the end, there's some good potential there. With some heart-pounding moments and great sound/gameplay synch-up, it really is too bad that it's so damned frustratingly designed; it could have been a high point of the game.
I would love to meet the person responsible for the original control mapping in AitD, but I'm afraid I'd have to do so from behind shatterproof glass in a white coat, because they must be mental. The default control scheme is broken and just silly, with required buttons mapped to keys like Print Screen XD. Not only that, there are a couple actions that I was never able to perform no matter what they were mapped to. Those things aside, though, it is possible to remap all important keys into a scheme that makes sense, and doing so will probably take you ten minutes or so. This is disappointing - I don't like having to fix a game I've just bought - but it's not game-breaking.
And this is where all the division is coming into play. Some people are marking this game down three or four points just for the fetch quest at the end. Others are calling it "unplayable" because they couldn't get past the driving sequence. Still others didn't like the inventory system, and apparently don't give points for trying. Certainly the real-time inventory can be a little frustrating at times, but personally I found it completely worth it for the immersion it provided. The intuitive combination of everyday items was very appealing for me. There's no question that Carnby's movement and the driving segments are downsides, and the fetch quest and subsequent arbitrary puzzle sequence are annoying to the extreme. So what I eventually come to is this: AitD is not perfect. It's not as good as I wish it had been, or as it had the potential to be. But it tries some new things, and there is NO other game out there that feels like this, and very few that try this hard. That's all worth something in my book.
There's nothing to unlock, and no real reason to go through the game again immediately that I can see. However, this might just be the kind of game that you want to play again a month or two down the road, just because it's so unique. We'll have to wait and see if it's had that kind of lasting effect on me, and it's going to be different from person-to-person, but I think it might just deserve a second run-through.
Completely arbitrary score:
(This is where the "love it or hate it" comes into play. It all depends on how well you tolerate the fetch quest and the driving sequences. There are things here that have never been done, and experiencing them is often a true joy. It's too bad the game was marred by those segments, because without them we would have had a spectacular game. I've given it a Five because I have to acknowledge that, even though my first instinct was Eight, other people will not be as appreciative of the new systems and the ambition. For plenty of people, that Five will be an Eight or a Two depending on their patience and tastes.)
The Final Word
The only thing left for me to say is this:
There is nothing out there like this game. You might not like it, but I believe it is something you should experience just for the sake of experiencing it. Rent it if you have a console - I bought it, and I don't regret that decision at all. It should be noted that Atari's online direct-to-drive download service is top-notch.
Thanks for reading the review - I hope it has helped.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10, Originally Posted: 06/30/08
Game Release: Alone in the Dark (US, 06/23/08)
Added: 19 Apr 2012
"Just Needs One Thing"
Alone in the Dark 1992, that was believe to be the start of the 3D survival horror genre. It's said that the first one set the standard for such games as Resident Evil and Silent Hill. If you've never played one of the AITD games, don't worry about it, only a few people in the game actually know about the past.
You wake up, not knowing where or who you are. Slowly things start to piece together and you'll get there to the full story. Like any horror movie or game, it really doesn't make complete sense. Of course you have to remember that no one have any damn sense in these games. If you're a fan of horror movies and games, you'll love this game.
The music in the game blows you away. It's perfect, not many games have excellent music like this anymore that aren't RPGs. The voice acting is a mixed blessing, some voices will annoy the heck out of you. Since there are no subtitles you have no choice but to listen to everything they say. James McCaffrey is great as Edward Carnby. Very tired sounding, which fits the character.
If you got this on PC, it was probably one of two reasons. You don't have an HD TV and it looks prettier on your PC or you don't have a Xbox 360. There are some graphical errors like clothing being where it shouldn't be and the game does have a tendency to slow at the weirdest times, (Driving, cut scenes) but it's nice to look at. It's not very realistic as everything seems to have a plastic coating to it.
Game play- 6/10
The over all game play is good. There are a few things that are really odd. Like poor flammable liquid on the bullets in your gun to have fire bullets. Don't try that at home. (Your gun will go boom!) The real time inventory was a little scary at first, all I could think was that I would die while trying to figure out what to use, but I haven't have any problems with it so far. Like wise the healing also is real time but very easy to use. You have only a limited amount of what to carry, so you really need to thing about it at times. Sometimes you can't decide, then others you just know. Fortunately, most time you need something, you will find it laying around nearby. Some items can double as other things, like bandages can also be used as rags for Molotov Cocktails. Any thing that sprays can be used as a flame thrower.
Controls - -9/10 (With keyboard and mouse)
That's right. A NEGATIVE nine. These control are so horrible it is not funny at all. The first hint that the control are bad is the manual. It's obvious that it was written for the Xbox 360. So you start up the game and you just wonder if the person who mapped the keys actually ever used a keyboard. So you spend an hour re-mapping the keys, don't even bother with the sensitivity of the keys as it does nothing! So, you get the last part of episode 2, get ready to spend about two hours trying to get past this part. The car swerves like there's oil all over the street, the lights touch of a key sends it barreling in that direction. Then there's times you're pressing the gas and the car just stops. You look in 1st person and there's nothing there, so you back up, but the street collapses.
Now if that wasn't bad enough, you have to drive a lot in this game and it's the same thing all the time. (The road may not always be trying to eat you...some times) The fighting with melee weapons is fustrating at best and awkward most of the time. There is hope!
Controls- 7/10 (With Xbox 360 controller)
This proves that no thought was put into this game when it came to keyboard controls. With the controller, the driving becomes so much easier and does the combat. The main problem I have with this, is the shooting. Sometime the laser will jump onto an enemy when you didn't move it and it will miss the creature completely.
There's nothing to unlock, so really unless you love the game, you'll probably uninstall or leave it go unused for a while before coming back to it.
All in all, it's a good game. Better controls and you would have a top notch game. Maybe Atari will release a patch to better the controls. Most likely not. If you really want to play this game, get it on Xbox or the other systems. You'll have better controls and you won't have the annoyance of Atari's 3 activations only rule.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10, Originally Posted: 07/17/08
Game Release: Alone in the Dark (US, 06/23/08)
Add your own review for Alone in the Dark! Fill in this section now!