Amid the horror renaissance we've been living through for the past several years, with games like Resident Evil, Dead Space, Silent Hill, and more getting remade, remastered, or rebooted, one of the oldest series' in the genre is soon to emerge from the shadows. Alone in the Dark, a remake of the original game from way back in 1992, is being reborn for a modern audience, complete with an over-the-shoulder perspective, combat mechanics that were never found in the original adventure genre-leaning game, and even a few famous faces.
The remake is penned by Mikael Hedberg, writer of two classics in the genre, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA, lending the relatively unknown team at Pieces Interactive an air of credibility. At the center of the game's story are two characters, Emily Hartwood and Detective Edward Carnby, played by Free Guy's Jodie Comer and Stranger Things' David Harbour, respectively. The lifelike models of these characters, who are not just voiced by their Hollywood counterparts, but are also modeled to look exactly like them, was an immediately fun new detail when I sat in on a presentation of the game ahead of today's public showcase.
At its core, Alone in the Dark is a haunted house story, the game's team told me in a Q&A session that followed a hands-off presentation. Players will explore the Southern Gothic horror story by moving through its haunted mansion, solving puzzles, and doing battle with the entities that reside there. In moments I saw, it looked quite like a modern Resident Evil or another 3D over-the-shoulder horror series.
That's probably a good thing, as it revives the franchise on a familiar foundation. Even if you've played every Alone in the Dark game over the past 30 years, you haven't played a new one since 2015, and going by aggregate review scores, not a good one since 2001. So there are many players, even fans of horror, who have never played a game in this series before. I confess, despite being a huge horror fan, I am one such player. By molding the game to be more like others in the genre, I feel it's not such a tall order to get me excited. I understand the basics, and from there I hope the story can propel it forward.
So what then sets Alone in the Dark apart from a crowded field of games that look and play like it? The famous faces are a nice touch, but a representative for publisher THQ Nordic told me it's actually the game's tone that distances it from other survival-horror games. "While being, at its core, a scary story, there is also room for humor and some... weirdness (in a good way)," said the rep. "And while many other games go more into the 'terror' part of survival horror, we see ourselves more in the tradition of psychological horror. In that regard we're lucky to have David Harbour and Jodie Comer on board, whose spellbinding performances will convince everybody who's here for the story experience."
The original game had combat, but only minimal. Players could fight monsters with their fists and even find and use weapons, but as one of the first-ever games with polygonal characters, video game technology was still in its infancy. There wasn't a lot of combat, and what was there would be seen as incredibly basic if it were to be faithfully translated into the modern remake. Therefore, the dual protagonists in the 2023 version can defend themselves in ways that will be familiar to genre veterans, using an assortment of weapons and taking on enemies directly more than they once did.
For players seeking to dive into the world of Alone in the Dark themselves, they can do it as early as today. Grace in the Dark Prologue, a free prequel chapter to the main game, launches today on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PS5. It stars Grace Saunders, a young girl from the series, though the team stressed that this demo will not include combat elements, as it did not want to put Grace in life-or-death situations.
Instead, the prologue should offer players a chance to get a feel for the remake, its controls, its atmosphere, and its haunted mansion, of course. THQ Nordic said it is looking into the possibility of including this prologue in physical copies of the game when it launches this fall, too. Alone in the Dark arrives on October 25, just in time for horror fans looking for a Halloween haunt.
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