Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Alone in the Dark 3: Bad Puns and Bad Sheriffs

It feels like the end of an era with Alone in the Dark 3. It feels like an end to the nebulous "before times", when survival horror didn't exist and Resident Evil wasn't the monster it was. I have quite a few games listed before Resident Evil came out, and even some before this came out, but they're all based on vague feelings I get, and they're usually wrong. Outside of Doctor Hauzer that is. And in another sense, this is the end of the original trilogy. These games were never known for having an impressive over-arching story, but after this they're all bizarre time-line mangling things that I've read but I still don't really understand.

Something about this shot feels wrong
The intro takes place in Carnby's office, in a thunderstorm. The light quickly cuts out to show the credits and so Carnby can make a joke about being alone in the dark. I hope he doesn't stay like this. Guy is really obnoxiously talking to a dude hiring him, not in an entertaining way, an annoying way. Carnby is going out to the Mojave Desert to find out what happened in a ghost town where a western is being made. Apparently Carnby doesn't care for his old friend Emily from Alone in the Dark 1, raising his price the second he hears about her. On the main menu there's a new option, the ability to select the damage of Carnby and his foes, along with health. I don't see any reason to change this...yet. Hopefully the game doesn't give me a reason to go back here. There's hope that the three or so developers and programmers who have stayed on the game since the previous titles have learned from their mistakes.
Who builds a town right next to a crevice like that?
The game unceremoniously dumps me in the town. This feels worse than the previous two entries, which had these grand intros which showed a good chunk of the game. An interesting choice with melee combat, Carnby stays in place whenever he attacks. Carnby only has a 38 special, but something interesting is going on with the menus. Whole bunch of western theming going on. Including some unusual stuff with the save system, grouping saves by four US states. Carnby also refuses to leave if I try to escape.

This felt like something out of a parody
I only have one path, onto a bridge. Nothing much is on the side, and when I'm about to reach it, this fellow pops up. He doesn't attack straight away, so I start firing at him. Comically badly, but I wasn't managing to hit him at all. Which made me wonder if the game was forcing me to miss him, as even the slightest adjustment caused me to hit wildly off-course. Out of bullets, and forgetting the reload command, I attempt to fistfight the outlaw, only to get roundly beaten.
Hanging me after I'm dead seems silly
Three outlaws watch over my corpse in the death sequence. They slowly but surely walk away. That's honestly just a really cool death sequence, but is there a way around that? Well, that outlaw seems to be unkillable, and Carnby can't reload his gun anymore, at least not without finding ammunition. I check the manual to confirm this, yup. Also I can carry 50 items. I hope that doesn't become a problem. Because that's a hell of a problem to have.

I kept expecting to get into a quickdraw contest or something
Progressing seriously, Another outlaw blocks my progress, but this is a cutscene. He lights a match...
I love this particular shot

Causing the bridge to be destroyed, launching Carnby ahead. Check out that clever gunman in the tower bit. If this was a "serious" action game I'd have to fight it out with him like that. Makes me wish this was that kind of game, because that would be sick.

Note the camera in the trash there
It looks like from here I have the whole town open to me, but I, like a schmuck, decide to enter the saloon where one of the undead outlaws entered.
The saloon doors animate, but poorly
First I check the porch, one way is blocked, but the other has a gas can and a mysterious alley where another outlaw undoubtedly waits to murder me. Inside the game has better adventure game elements. I try to use the projector, and it tells me I need gas. Well, I have gas, a big ol' barrel of it.
Note the projector, still in there during the recording of this
This shows me a video of a man on a horse getting killed by a ghost, then the projector stops working. A horse comes out in the background. Uh, that's cool...I guess I solved a puzzle then...
Apparently rotting old floorboards make for excellent cover
The saloon continues, with me exploring behind the bar. The outlaw I followed in starts shooting at me through the floor, though this doesn't do anything to me, and he eventually leaves. Gotta say that Carnby's looking slightly worse in this game compared to older titles. The stairs up are broken, but there's just a lot of stuff in here. I find a bottle, a flask, wood alcohol, a maraca, and matches. Save something for the second area.
Nice artwork, but terrible as a map
You know, I'm not really sure what here I can go through. Let's check the map, and boy, that's the worse map I've ever seen in a game. At least those ones with short visibility allow me to know which way I can go.
You can just barely see the dude on the left

I guess I have one way forward...wait a minute, that's another outlaw. Uh...huh...The two outlaws are invincible, for now. There are two doors I can reach, but neither are openable. Nearer to the entrance there's a gate door, but I can't do anything to it at all. It takes me some considerable amount of time to figure out my next option. At first checking to see if I just wasn't hitting the right spot with a key.
But then I figured it out. Or something out. Throw the bottle, since I had the option. That gives me a useless broken bottle and a token. Oh, its that puzzle from last time, isn't it? Use the token on the piano. And its still as annoying to find the spot to put it in. Five programmers and nobody could fix that issue?

I'm pretty sure I've seen an image like this hundreds of times
That gives me an explanation of the story, in a slide show with drawings. Gold was found in Slaughter Gulch, and then violence quickly followed. All told in simple rhymes, which I must admit, I didn't care for. If this relates directly to the story, then the band of outlaws here are actually just corrupt law enforcement. I'm still going to refer to them as outlaws, because why not? This also gets me a lamp.
There's something silly about this
This game is doing an absolute bang-up job of making me feel like I have no idea what I'm doing whatsoever. I can add oil to the lamp, and light it, but this does nothing. There was a sound of something moving after I used the piano, but nothing changed. It early for me to check a walkthrough, and knowing what AitD2 did, I should be trying everything again, two hundred times, just to be sure. But I check one anyway, I was supposed to move the right horn on the bull skull. The skull's right, not the player's. Player's right brings up a crossbow that kills me, from the obvious trap door. The skull's right brings up a human-looking fellow, who tries to kill me, but I headbutt him til he falls down. This gets me a gold bullet and an ace of diamonds. I'm going to need every one of those 50 items, aren't I?
Awful title reference #2
Oh, god, you're going to keep making puns on that, aren't you? That's getting obnoxious. Down here there are three locked barrels, a poster, and a cane I can pick up. And seemingly nothing else. The poster, I guess a clue to a puzzle, tells me that someone wants some alcohol in prison. Through a barrel. Interesting, but the key doesn't work on any of the doors.
I've got mixed feelings about the game so far. On one hand, its got the things I liked about the previous games, good music, good atmosphere and graphics. On the other, its not really appealing to play so far. As a shooter I doubt I'm going to be able to hit anything, melee combat could end badly, and as an adventure game I'm not seeing its virtues just yet. But I admit, I didn't expect something in the background to be usable, so I should put my thinking cap on and try to puzzle my way out of things.

This Session: 1 hour

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