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Jodie Comer and David Harbour's performance in Alone in the Dark can't elevate the dull horror.
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Jodie Comer and David Harbour’s performance in Alone in the Dark can’t elevate the dull horror.

It’s appropriate that the newest Alone in the Dark installment has opted for a hereditary curse as its concept, considering the fact that the series which introduced the concept of survival horror has not produced a successful game in roughly three decades. Its various failures include the poorly received 2008 game with the same title, which contained several unconventional design choices such as a dedicated button for blinking. However, at least it was uniquely terrible, which cannot be said for this uninteresting and unoriginal reworking of the original game.

Reworded: Taking place in Louisiana during the 1900s, Alone in the Dark follows Emily Hartwood (played by Jodie Comer) as she visits her uncle Jeremy at the Derceto Manor facility for those with mental illness. After receiving a troubling letter from her uncle, Emily enlists the help of a private detective, Edward Carnby (played by David Harbour), to accompany her. Concerned for her safety, Emily asks if Carnby has brought a gun with him, anticipating that it may be necessary in order to locate her uncle.

You have the choice to select between Carnby or Hartwood to handle the use of firearms, which results in a slightly varying viewpoint of the plot. While the remodeled version maintains the overall premise of the 1992 edition, it heavily draws inspiration from Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 2 in terms of presentation and mechanics. Your exploration of the Derceto mansion is limited, as you must solve uncomplicated puzzles to gain access to different rooms. Additionally, there are sporadic sections that require more action, where you enter Uncle Jeremy’s dreams and combat monsters in locations influenced by the works of HP Lovecraft.

For the most part, deeply tedious … Alone in the Dark, 2024.View image in fullscreen

The manor house in the southern gothic style is quite enjoyable to explore, and the puzzles within can provide some mild diversion. However, for the majority of the time, Alone in the Dark is rather dull. The main issue lies with the writing, as the game aims for a cool, detached noir feel but cannot successfully merge it with the inherently absurd Lovecraftian storyline. The sudden shifts in tone and setting only serve to confuse rather than intrigue. Furthermore, the game lacks justification for the decision to have its two main characters spend most of the game separated, despite Hartwood specifically hiring Carnby to protect her.

Unfortunately, Pieces Interactive’s hopes of the star talent they hired improving the writing have backfired. Comer’s portrayal of Hartwood is lackluster and her delivery is off. Even simple lines like “I need the key” come off as sarcastic rather than serious. Harbour does slightly better, but at times it seems like he’s rushing through the script.

It’s worth noting the Resident Evil games are hardly narrative masterpieces, either. But they are scary and exciting, qualities Alone in the Dark stumbles right past. Outside a few instances, combat and puzzling exist in separate realms, so exploring the mansion is devoid of tension. Even in the dreamscapes, monster encounters are surprisingly scarce. Shooting enemies when they do turn up can be fun, assuming they don’t stand jittering in a corner due to the game’s regular AI malfunctions, but most other interactions are either underwhelming or outright irritating. Melee combat is limp, while opening doors or climbing ladders is excruciatingly slow.

Abrupt tonal switches are more bewildering than intriguing … Alone in the Dark, 2024.

“Display the image in fullscreen”

Unfortunately, Jeremy’s dreamscapes are fairly mundane, considering he is supposedly lost in the depths of madness. They consist of a Louisiana swamp, graveyard, warehouse, and an ancient library. Later on, there are some more unique locations, but they are not explored in depth. Trying to listen to real people talk about their dreams is already challenging, so experiencing a fictional character’s dreams should at least be exceptionally unusual.

Following the success of Alan Wake 2, a surrealist horror game that embraced its peculiarity and offered a strong storyline, Alone in the Dark falls short. It lacks excitement, is awkwardly designed, and lacks purpose, leaving little room for anything other than indifference. Attempting to unravel Jeremy’s erratic behavior is not worth enduring the sluggish progression, while the gameplay and puzzles are inferior to those in Resident Evil 2. The game’s curse appears to persist.

  • The release date for Alone in the Dark is March 20th, and it is priced at £46.99.

Source: theguardian.com