This ambitious entry just goes to show that looks arent everything!

User Rating: 2 | Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare GBC
First things first it must be said that Alone in the dark is a mighty impressive technical acomplishment. When the first screen shots of the game were released no one could beleive that such 3D images could be the result of real-time rendering on a console with just a little more power than a scientific calculator. But it turns out they were! Alone in the dark is the most stunning looking game on the GBC ever. The game takes a leaf from the Resident evil book of presentation with realtime 3D characters and pre-rendered 2D enviroments. These enviroments are very well presented with vivid colours and plenty of detail on show as well as plenty of neat little touches like glowing eyes that stare at you from among the trees.

The main star of the graphical show however are the 3D graphics. The simple fact that this kind of real time 3D rendering can be accomplished on such a tiny amount of processing power is an impressive technical acheivement. Unfortunatly however there is a bit of deception going on here as although the main character Edward Carnby is rendered in 3D, nothing else is. But that aside Carnby is well designed. Ok he may not be the most detailed 3D object in the history of gaming, he has no facial features, plenty of jagged edges and looks like a doll gliding along the pre-rendered enviroments with which he clashes quite a bit. But again the fact that the GBC has so little power makes it impressive that anything like this could be managed full stop! So well done devs.

With this in mind its a massive shame that this is actually Alone in the darks only redeeming feature. In all other respects this game fails on nearly all counts.

The biggest problem is the fact that this game is just plain boring. As Edward Carnby you get a call telling you that your friend, who was on an expedition to some island owned by some rich guy known to have an interest in strange ancient artifacts, has turned up dead. Edward Carnby goes to the island with some generic researcher and upon arriving gets seperated from her and then starts your quest to trudge around the island tying to solve the mystery of why your friend died and what strange things have been happening on this island.

As mentioned before Alone in the dark takes its leaf from the resident evil book of presentation and the same goes for some its gameplay. As you explore the island you have to find clues in the creepy mansion and solve a series of puzzles to progress on through the story. Unfortunately these puzzles are just horrendus consisting mostly of boring "take item A to place X and insert in hole B". There are a few that might just pass as decent but its obvious from the outset that no real thought was put into any of them. Basically to cut a long story short there is no challege to the exploration side of the game what so ever and the lack of effort put into it will be painfully obvious all the way through.

Then comes the gun play. And this is the bit that will really ruin your day. Since Edward Carnby is the only 3D object in the game everything else that moves is 2D. Not a problem in itself but the thing is nothing else actually appears in the same enviroment as the 3D Edward Carnby. When ever you encounter a monster the view changes from the gloriously detailed island enviroment to an isometric perspective of a boring, sparsely detailed 2D enviroment which is supposed to represent the area your in in the main one (a library, a cave, the mansion etc) and replaces the 3D Carnby with a 2D version.
You are then "attacked" by a monster or group of monsters which basically walk towards you, you then aim what ever weapon you have equipped at them, shoot them a couple of times and are then sent back to the main enviroment. Thats it. Seriously.

Obviously from that you'll gather that the combat elements of the game are just as bad as the puzzle elements. They're poorly designed with minimal effort and thought put in and the fact that you are forced out of the atmospheric, very well designed main enviroment and stuffed into a drab 2D one rather than have the combat take place on the main enviroment is just pathetic and seriously breaks the atmosphere, sucking out all element of horror and thus potential scares the game may have actually had otherwise.

The games sound design fares a lot better. Music is minimal but the inclusion of sounds like flowing water, unknown things rustling in the bushes and the occasional howl of something obviously not friendly somewhere in the distance add to the atmosphere of the already detailed enviroments. Mind you with all the other features that exhibit such lack of thought the sound design is not enough to make up for the games problems.

All in all Alone in the dark is the most technically impressive game you'll likely ever find on the system and shows that you dont need a powerful home console to make a good looking 3D game. Unfortunatly along with the terrible combat, the boring puzzles and just general lack of design effort all around it also showcases the fact that good looks alone are not enough to make a good game.