Monday, November 30, 2020

Game 42: Alone in the Dark 2

Name:Alone in the Dark 2
Genre:Survival Horror
Time:11.5 hours

For a Wolfenstein 3D-inspired actionized sequel, Alone in the Dark 2 sure didn't deliver. In fact, its like someone heard Wolf was popular, and then only saw an early developmental build where stealth was still a thing. This is a level of missing the point so hard it might as well have been inspired by Dune 2. The combat isn't even that bad...for the most part. Its the adventure game aspects that ruin it. Even with a relatively limited item pool all the puzzles felt forced and difficult to understand. If you wanted an example of how NOT to do an adventure game, this is the one you'd chose.

Which makes this game so disappointing. I overcame the hurdle of both the combat issue and the goofy issue early on. Which I understand were the primary flaws with this game. If it actually was this overly goofy action B-game, I would have had a big smile throughout the whole game and it'd probably beat Doom of all things. You look at this game with a lot of flaws and instead of going for the obvious part that the game has several puzzles that are practically impossible without looking things up and you say its just a bad action game. Even if every fight was like the one in the attic against a ranged guy and a melee guy jumping around it would still be an improvement so long as it didn't pretend to be an adventure game. EVERYONE was whining about the combat, and the horrible adventure game aspects get a sideline, if that.
That doesn't even begin to talk about all the little errors. Sometimes its a crap shoot as to whether or not you or the enemy can hit each other. Even then it turns into a crap shoot as to whether or not you can keep hitting them. I'm no fighting game expert, but usually when I play those I die because I'm an incompetent idiot. Here there's no reason why or why not you hit something. There's no real challenge to fighting, just guesswork. That's not getting into that sometimes collision was wrong on the game area. Carnby poking out where he shouldn't, because someone set the wrong flag in the editor. This came out two years after the original, why wasn't it tested?
And the section with Grace...c'mon. Especially the CD section where the only thing I get out of it nice looking backgrounds. Cryptic hints that don't make any sense without a look function, stealth that feels non-existent. Why exactly did we need that? Couldn't we have had Carnby slashing his way into the pirate ship? That would have been fun. Instead a zombie pirate can't see a little girl 3 feet away from him, but another one can see her behind crates 3 yards away. None of this game makes any sense. Oh, and I can't forget, some of the paths forward are practically invisible if you don't know they're there. Some of the perspective is incredibly good at hiding paths.
But despite all the doom and gloom, I liked the combat. Sure, starting out it was awkward, and it never really got unawkward. Eventually I learned to work around that to an extent. But once I got into a groove it put a smile on my face, even if some difficult enemy from earlier was now a joke. By the time I finally fought One-Eyed Jack I was actually in full-on fun mode. Which is interesting, because the end-game of the original did not. I was disappointed by Elisabeth being defeated not even in a puzzle fashion, but them's the brakes.

Most of the weapons felt fun to use. Actually hitting something with the fist was amazing, same with the sword cane. The guns, when working as intended, were just so satisying to use. All the sword-fighting, despite sometimes feeling broken in the game's favor, was just so sweet after the Grace section. When they weren't working I never felt like the failure was my fault, which isn't ideal. 5/10
I must admit that despite my general distaste here, I think this was well handled. Despite coming off as a stupid trap, the fights in the attic were interesting. In fact, every big fight the game built up to was satisfying, even if the actual fighting wasn't the best. I also like the design of most of the enemies, its a nice selection. 5/10

There weren't any. 0/10
I liked the beginning and I liked the end. The puzzle sections were a bad and the stealth sections can shove right off. 2/10

Player Agency:
There's the usual from the last game, tank controls, awkward running. But we've got some changes, a lack of jumping, combat feeling incredibly awkward. Movement during melee combat is something I think is always necessary. It was always a question of whether or not I could actually hit something there, despite no indication why I was missing. 3/10
Just so many of the puzzles forced me to dwell on things I had no recourse other than to spam items everywhere or look up a walkthrough. Even some of those were difficult to do after looking it up. Who's going to waste their time pushing everything in the area? Huh? Huh? At no point during the adventure game aspect did I feel I could solve a problem without the game or a walkthrough telling me. 1/10

Despite the Christmas theme the game has going on, the whole package is more of a non-threatening children's halloween adventure. At that, I think it succeeds, even if that wasn't the intention. 7/10

I can't say this is too different than the art from the original. Its more of it. Its high quality pixel art with charmingly bad 3d models. A few awkward animations, but hey, its 1993, its not like its that bad. 7/10

The story drip-feeds the important bits all over the first 3/4s of the game just enough to make it interesting. Its not like the original when its not obvious its going to be cheesy pirate movie until over halfway through, so it has that going for it. 4/10

The sound effects, while low-quality, all serve their purpose. With exception to the voice clips the zombies say, which are charmingly bad. The music's the real treasure. It goes all over the game's horror, Christmas, noir and pirate themes and creates something quite cohesive and pleasant to hear. 8/10

That is...42. 11 below the original and exactly the same place as Shadowcaster. I'll keep it as is, I guess. I enjoyed the combat and didn't enjoy the aspects unrelated to shooting, so that makes sense since this is supposed to be about shooting games, not adventure games.

I'll come back later to talk about the console reviews, probably when I do the console versions. They're...interesting looking. Well, if I bothered to do so beforehand I would have put the previews and ads at the start, so I am forced to stick them here...And there's a whopper.

50 hours of gameplay. I don't know if that's true or not, since I didn't do this entirely legitimately, but 50 hours? I thought I was screwing around at times, but imagine trying to pad this out to 50 hours. 70 characters? If you count some of them twice maybe. 15 levels? What exactly is a level in-game context? Hundreds of objects? Hundreds? Frightfully eerie soundtrack? Don't kid yourself. Its no mystery either, virtual mystery my ass.

From Electronic Entertainment, we have someone who appears to be an old hand at adventure games. In addition to the usual gameplay gripping, he whines that the puzzles are...too easy. Okay, whatever. He whines about the plot as cliche, but he clearly wasn't paying attention to it, failing to notice why they kidnapped Grace. 4 out of 5, but only appealing to fans of the original. The rest of the English reviewers aren't very interesting, making the usual points, gunplay, little atmosphere, easy puzzles. Honestly, even the modern English reviews aren't of much interest either, making little new points. A few criticisms about the Grace section...which hardly seem related to the stupidity of the stealth, just that it exists.
I don't feel like going through the non-English reviews, so that will remain a mystery. I doubt they bring up any points that haven't been brought up in English. Maybe I'm just small-brained or something.

Fortunately, my next game isn't going to require me understanding a language other than English, since there aren't any reviews of it. It was in fact, never released. Stay tuned.

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