Time:6 hours 50 minutes
I wanted to love Alone in the Dark 3. There were a lot of interesting factors going in. The western theme of the game are unusual for a survival horror title. The return to a more puzzle heavy style of the original sounded good and I understood the game to be righting the wrongs of Alone in the Dark 2. Sadly, that did not happen. Instead, it keeps most of the old issues and adds more of its own. That's not to say the game doesn't have its moments, but the cracks are starting to show.
|Taken out of context, most screenshots of the game look absolutely insane
|Some of these things are told in rhyme, which doesn't help matters
Jed Stone, our antagonist, is a prospector/mine owner(?) who found more than gold in the mines of Slaughter Gulch, its implied to be something radioactive. Stone, the abandoned child of Pregzt from the first game and Elizabeth Jarret from the second, wants to set off the San Andreas faultline with I presume a nuke to put parts of California into the sea. Obvious jokes aside, Stone is doing this as a generic take over the world story. Carnby has to go through a wide variety of undead, including his doppelganger, deal with teleporting enemies, and probably something I'm forgetting. It is never explained how this happens. Pregzt was a newborn God and Jarret was a witch of the highest caliber, Stone has no explanation for his incredible talents, beyond his bloodline. Or why everyone turns into giant black cats and unleash an annoying sound.
|Carnby is pretty casual with a heavy weapon
|Thinking about it, I've played a lot of Infogrames titles with minecarts...
|If you look carefully at this picture, you should see a problem
|The events that led to this picture are a story in of itself
|This town isn't big enough for the two of us, as the saying goes
Puzzles are as obtuse as ever. At least this time Carnby will sometimes tell you if you have the right idea but not the right location. That's still more precise than I would have liked, but I can't think of any better way to tackle things. What tripped me up at first is that the game forces one to interact with things in the background that one wouldn't think were possible in this engine. A contribution to this are the angles of the backgrounds, I'm hardly one to complain, but sometimes the solution was somewhere I never thought Carnby would fit. One puzzle require Carnby to practically put himself into a pit in order to drop something, and later dropping puzzles are similarly cursed.
I think I know why this is. While Alone in the Dark 2 only shares two key people from the original, one was the new director. In addition some parts of AitD2 were made by the AitD team, judging by trivia I've been able to read. If not actual gameplay than at least concepts. Alone in the Dark 3 only shares one key person, and he's just one programmer of many. He might not even have worked on the game, just credit for originally making the engine. The only people who remain from the original are artists and the producer, who should have known better, but cannot be entirely blamed for these issues.
|At no point does it ever look like the cougar is actually on the statue
|I wish more games had enemies that reacted like this
|Its rare for enemies to just wail on each other without player intervention
|Can you guess the puzzle in this room?
In the first half of the game I had some nice weapons, a Winchester and a Gatling gun. Then the Gatling gun jammed and using the Winchester in every fight was impractical at best. None of the rest of the weapons were any good and especially the melee weapons were impractical. 2/10
I have mixed feelings here. There was not a good deal of seperation between the puzzle enemies and the regular enemies, something the previous games did a good job on. There are some interestingly designed enemies, but the majority actually fight quite genericly. 3/10
A few, but they don't do anything outside of scripted events. 0/10
The sections are too linear in most cases. You have a series of linear events you have to do. I realize a good chunk of games do that, but this one had a very weak illusion of that. However, the cougar section was awesome and I wish more games did something like that. 3/10
This felt far worse than the previous two games. There's the usual survival horror tank controls, of which I am used to. The usual AitD run cycle, where you press the forward arrow twice. Jumping makes an inconsistent return, some situations call for it, some automatically go through. But what was worse is that every fight felt so much worse than the last games. I kept having to reload my save because I used up all my ammo or got nearly killed in some random melee fight. Even when I knew what I was doing it felt like things were breaking. However, a point for the Cougar section. 3/10
Alone in the Dark 3 continues the issues the previous games had, namely, being an adventure game where the adventure aspect feels like an afterthought. There are still these great issues with it, but there is the odd relief. Some areas mention that there's nothing here, others mention if you're not quite where you should be. 3/10
There's an excellent night mood throughout the game, but the rest isn't so easily put. For the first half there's this sense of mystery, like in the original, but with undead cowboys. As the game continued that mood went away and the whole thing felt random. Then Carnby died and the mood changed from horror game, to Carnby the badass. There's just such a cool feeling in the last few sections, when enemies are running from you, you take out these hulking behemoths, and Carnby meets with his doppelganger. I was feeling down about the game at that point, and it put just a huge smile on my face. 8/10
While the animation is great as always, I feel like the backgrounds have degraded slightly. These feel like low-res drawings. They're not bad, but not what I loved about the past two games. They also conceal far too much that's of vital importance to the game. On the plus side, most of the new enemies have inspired designs. 5/10
This game had a strange story. At first it was just ghost outlaws...and then it turned into a plot about dropping a nuke on the San Andreas fault line so that a good chunk of California would fall off. And that the lead antagonist was the child of the previous two games antagonists. None of this is explained very well...it all feels very flat. 3/10
The sound isn't very interesting, various low quality digital sound effects, and some mediocre voice-acting. A big part of the appeal of the last two games was the music, which was appropriately dark in the original, and very interesting in the second. The music has a nice western tinge to it, and its an interesting listen. A bit too much reliance on some sections of the music, however. 7/10
That's 37. 5 points below AitD2's 42, and some below AitD's 53. I must admit, I find that interesting, since this game was shorter than the last game, and did seem to be more fun on my part.
That's it, for the original series. After this the series gets weird, but I understand that Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is a good, if heavily inspired by Resident Evil. There are many different versions of the original games, including console ports of the first two, Japanese releases and Macintosh releases with their own unique flavor on the games.
I have started rewriting some of my old reviews because I'm finding I don't quite care as much for the LP format and that was biting into actual review writing. I'm going to try to limit LPs to games that haven't been covered as much as they should. Galactic Empire and Dungeon Master will continue as usual.