Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Game 13: Alone in the Dark

Name:Alone in the Dark
Genre:Survival Horror
Time:18 hours

I didn't have any problems, but I used the GOG version. I imagine if you own it on disc you'd just rip it and mount the img. It requires some fiddling around with the speed settings, your ability to run is tied to the CPU speed.

Alone in the Dark is the first game in what I would consider possibly my favorite genre. You can say Sweet Home, or Legacy: Realms of Terror, or Where Time Stood Still are the first survival horror games, but really, 3D movement is key to the true survival horror game. Certainly, those games are all good, they're all fun, but part of the primary appeal in survival horror is the action. Not, oh no, I have to wait ten seconds for my attack meter to refill. No, Alone in the Dark deserves its spot as the grandfather of survival horror.
That's not to say there aren't issues, while its easy to gang up on the poorly done 3D and tank controls, there are bigger issues. The story starts off good, then turns bad. The appearance of jumping 5/6ths through the game. Immortal enemies that don't appear immortal until you spend a minute on them. Bad running controls. Otherwise I felt it was fine, if very much an adventure game that someone threw action game elements on.
Now, some things that might seem like issues aren't all that bad. It makes sense that Pregzt wants a body despite being an eldritch horror. He's just a young eldritch horror, and well-read cosmic horror fans will know that of course some eldritch horrors like messing with humans.
The concept of a big, horror-infested mansion, is something I have a soft spot for. It has become cliche by sheer desire of most people's distaste for it, not by the number of games that have the concept. Although, admittedly, it does seem like there are a lot of text adventures with the premise. In 3D survival horror terms I know of two, maybe three games in this setting. The third being that Nosferatu game.
Now, during the review itself, I said some things that might have been wrong, these are:
1)Nowhere is the actual floor number mentioned. Everyone else seems to mention it like the European system. Everyone else is wrong and Europe stinks.
2)I mention several things have no explained solution. This is because I didn't spend as much time in the library as I should have.
3)You can read De Vermis Mysteriis in the circle, I just didn't get the right place in the circle.
4)The lantern being thrown at Pragzt at the end is supposedly mentioned in the original manual in some sneaky way. The manual that comes with the GOG version does not mention this. Regardless, this isn't a stupid puzzle, wood burns.
5)My confusion over what floor I'm on is solely due to my own incomptence.

When I said I like a lot of weapons in my game, what I meant was being able to pick what weapons I like best before dumping the ones I don't like. I don't like getting dumped with a thousand different knifes, none of which I know if I'll need later. I only ever needed five weapons and a skilled Edward player could get by with only using two. As for the guns? I didn't use them much, but every time I did I had the aim of a caveman who never fired a gun before. 3/10

There are essentially two kinds of enemies in this game. The normally killable enemies, and the puzzle enemies. Most of the puzzle enemies don't have a very good description of being puzzle enemies until you spend a minute fighting them. I don't like that. There's a rat you can't kill. If you want me to avoid staying in the basement through a ghost at me, not this garbage.
The regular enemies, while very similar, weren't terrible. They were capable of killing me just as much I was them, this being due to control issues, but it is true. 4/10

I don't think I'd say there are any non-enemies. 0/10

Its a very well-thought out mansion, mostly. There are places that don't make sense if you don't think of them as a place in a video game. There are some puzzles that don't make sense if you don't think of them as a video game. Pirate man still doesn't make any sense no matter how much of a pirate Pregzt is. 7/10

Player Agency:
I am not a person who hates tank controls. I am a person who hates poorly done tank controls. Running should not involve double tapping the forward key. There should be a run button. Jumping should not be a specific action, it should have a dedicated button. I have an entire keyboard at my fingertips and I don't get quick select keys? Yeah, I sure am grateful for being able to press a button to turn off the music and sound. Its fully functional otherwise. 5/10

For an adventure game I felt cheated out of the adventure game aspect. It needed a look function for the items. 6/10

Despite my making fun of a lot of the game's poor logic, the game is immensely atmospheric. I love haunted old houses. I just love old houses. There is just a non-stop feeling of dread playing this game and I love it. I play games like this for this feeling even if the game itself is very questionable. Even when the story went sour I still felt that feeling. 10/10

Alone in the Dark has some of the best 2D backgrounds ever done, and some of the goofiest 3D graphics that have ever graced a computer screen. The background art in this should be shown to every one who ever wants to do pixel art. I guess the 3D should be shown as what an amateur will usually produce. I guess the 3D does have some charm despite being terrible. Its not like I ever outright hated it. 7/10

A nice well-done story about an Cthulhu-ish horror that lives underneath a spooky house that is also a pirate. You had me until the pirate part. 4/10

This game has an arsenal of well-chosen sounds. Every action you take has an appropriate sound effect. You even get different sound effects for different kinds of ground. There are games today that don't do that. The music is okay, nice background music. Not something catchy or something I'd want to hear remixes of or listen to. 7/10

If I'm not mistaken that adds up to 53. Putting it above every game except Doom. I can't say I didn't completely see this coming if it didn't end up screwing with me. I am heavily biased towards survival horror. I will put up with a lot that other people just won't for survival horror. Next year, I'll go through the sequel. I'm sure that'll drop down the scale. Next, whatever I play next won't possibly top this. This is a must-play for survival horror fans and non-fans alike, but non-fans can be forgiven for not finishing it.


  1. Have you tried the old Adventure game Uninvited? Since you like haunted houses and survival horror.

    1. I keep meaning to go through it, but I've only played the opening. Which is more than I can say for the other MacVenture games. Probably get to it when things are less busy.