Alone in the Dark Preview

Quite possibly, Edward Carnby's newest adventure may be the most graphically stunning survival-horror game yet.


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For the last half-decade or so, Capcom has single-handedly handcuffed the survival-horror genre with its Resident Evil/Biohazard series. There probably isn't a gamer alive who hasn't tried Resident Evil or its half sister Dino Crisis. In fact, Capcom is often credited with spawning the "survival-horror" movement, a movement responsible for Carrier, Countdown Vampires, Deep Fear, Silent Hill, Vampire Hunter D, D2, Blue Stinger, Hard Edge, Parasite Eve 2, and countless others too nondescript to even mention. What most gamers either don't know or forget to acknowledge is that Infogrames' trailblazing series Alone in the Dark is truly responsible for bringing survival-horror into the third dimension.

Originating back in the early '90s, Alone in the Dark was groundbreaking for its time, as it was the first game to feature prerendered backgrounds and polygonal characters in a survival-horror setting. Alone in the Dark is more Sherlock Holmes than Resident Evil-style B-movie adrenaline rush, and its perpetual hero, Edward Carnby, has been through three previous AitD adventures, where he sorted out all manner of sordid mysteries. The first Alone in the Dark game unleashed Carnby into a mystery involving the proprietor of a huge mansion called Derceto. The owner, Jeremy Hartwood, was haunted by visions, nightmares, and mental depression fueled by suspicion that the house was possessed by an unseen evil power. When his eventual death was reported, questions arose as to the nature behind his passing. It was this event that brought Edward Carnby's skills to the scene of the crime. The second AitD reintroduced Carnby to the world via a scenario that involved Carnby's friend's daughter, little Grace Saunders, being held hostage in an old California mansion called Hell's Kitchen. Unfortunately, the mansion belonged to a scoundrel named One-Eyed Jack, whom Carnby would eventually encounter. AitD 3 found our man Carnby looking for one disappeared Emily Hartwood, a scriptwriter for the Western film The Last Ranger. The game takes place in a ghost town called Slaughter Gulch, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, where Carnby is summoned to get to the bottom of this mystery. Unfortunately, zombie cowboys and other otherworldly creatures attempt to run interference with Carnby's investigations.

Gamers weaned on the likes of Chris Redfield and Rebecca Chambers could easily overlook the fact that Carnby is the original "supernatural private eye," and after a long wait, he's back in a brand-new Alone in the Dark adventure. Even fans of the original may have a hard time recognizing Carnby here. He's gone through quite a makeover, leaving behind the pastel-colored cravats of yesteryear for an altogether more sinister look. In place of his old Victorian threads are trench coats, shoulder-length hair, and leather gloves. He looks remarkably like Richter Belmont from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, minus the whip, brought to life in breathtaking 3D. Don't take any of this the wrong way though. Edward Carnby is still one of the good guys; it's just that he now definitely falls into the category of "bad-ass." Which is a good thing, because as stern as Carnby looks now, so too do the environments and situations that surround him. Despite what hearsay and public domain have indicated, this game is not to be called Alone in the Dark 4. Infogrames and developer Darkworks have gone to great lengths to inform us that like The Empire Strikes Back was called Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the new Alone in the Dark game will be called Alone in the Dark (with a sub-headline to be determined).Names aside, the new AitD game finds Carnby on a mysterious island, called Shadow Island, off the coast of Maine. His best friend, Charles Fiske, has been murdered, and various clues lead our main man to a person named Edenshaw, who clues Edward in to Fiske's quest for three ancient tablets said to possess the ability to unlock an incredible and terrible power. Edenshaw, considerately, begs Carnby to resume the work that Fiske had left unfinished, and to find the ancient tablets. Naturally, Carnby, wishing to avenge his friend's death and uncover the mystery behind the tablets, accepts Edenshaw's proposal and sets off on what promises to be his greatest adventure yet.

The instant he sets foot on Shadow Island, at night in the dead of winter, Carnby is assaulted by horrible creatures hell-bent on putting a stop to his progress. As with games of this nature, every step he takes is met with mystery, surprises, and overwhelming feelings of suspense and continuous, never-ending danger. Equipped with little more than his instincts and what limited resources he has, Edward must solve the mystery behind the ancient tablets, his friend's death, and this gloomy island. Can Carnby put an end to this horrible nightmare? The answer to that, thankfully, is up to you, the gamer.

Quite possibly, Edward Carnby's newest adventure may be the most graphically stunning survival-horror game yet. Despite recent artistic triumphs like Resident Evil: Code Veronica, the new Alone in the Dark game is set to throw down the graphical gauntlet with its jaw-dropping visuals (at least on more powerful hardware like the Dreamcast and PC - it's also being developed for the PlayStation Although Code Veronica took the Dino Crisis cue and rendered its environments in 3D, AitD remains rooted in dynamic prerendered backgrounds, with polygonal characters superimposed on top of them. Unlike Resident Evil, in any of its incarnations, the new AitD features truly dynamic lighting effects, and Carnby throws real-time shadows everywhere he goes. Depending on where the light source is, Carnby will cast the appropriately rendered shadow. If a light, for example, is down at the other end of a long, low tunnel, his shadow will trail behind him, long and slim. If the light is directly overhead, his shadow will be short and stout, set directly below him. While this may not seem like such a great enhancement, it actually is, as Carnby truly looks like a part of his surroundings, which adds to the suspension of disbelief you get while playing the game.

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