Alone in the Dark review for PS5, Xbox Series X, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: Xbox Series X, PC
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Pieces Interactive
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

Where do I begin… There is some important context, I will get out of the way. The original Alone in the Dark on a Tandy Computer (my back is killing me) was my first experience with the series, but also into what we know as Survival Horror today. There are not many people I have met who ever played the original back in 1992. The difference is any horror fan knows what Alone in the Dark is.

This is a series with a very unstable history and reputation. From a plethora of mediocre remakes back on Dreamcast and PS3 — and not one but two movies by Uwe Boll (you can check out my interview with him here.)  The honest thoughts were that the expectations should not be high, even for a fan, right? Well, with the amount of amazing horror games in the last decade alone it has a lot to compete with, despite a light release window currently.

With Alone in the Dark 2024 we are given a true reimagined game with elements of the original release.  For me, I never finished the original game but eventually watched play-throughs to see the full experience. It was a challenging game since it was well ahead of its time, with full 3D character models and a large mansion long before Resident Evil.

The intro was my main hook because it started exactly like the original with the sounds of crickets as our main protagonists drive to the renowned “Derceto” to find a missing Jeremy Hartwood. The main playable characters are Emily Hartwood, niece of Jeremy, and Private Investigator Edward Carnby, who are played by Jodie Comer and David Harbour respectively.

Did we need a star-studded cast? No, did I enjoy their performances? You bet I did. This is the kind of game; I can see having an expanded movie adaption and bringing the same actors and actresses aboard. Maybe in an alternate universe, this becomes Uwe Boll’s Swan song. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

The reason you are here. How is this new reimagining and how does it stack with all the games that were potentially inspired by this IP? The answer is it depends. Full transparency as my main issues with the game are more performance-based and knowing a day 1 patch was in the works before playing, helped me set expectations. I bring this up in comparison to my review of Cookie Cutter, which you can read here. Cookie Cutter was released by an indie developer and had its fair share of issues pre-launch, and I made note of this to be fair with my review. It’s a similar case with Alone in the Dark, but we are now speaking about a AAA title, but will still be as fair as I always am.

The game’s gothic architecture works well to bring this world to life and the character models look terrific. With the name Alone in the Dark, the atmosphere is fitting as there are mostly dark halls and attics. Your trusty flashlight does just enough to help you see. It adds to the elements that help the game shine. One of those elements is more psychological visuals reminiscent of Silent Hill where your surroundings may change in the blink of an eye, or the turn of a door handle.

My initial playthrough was with Edward Carnby (Harbour) and took about 7 hours or so, despite an embarrassing moment where I got stuck on a puzzle and had to phone a friend only to feel truly dumb because I felt the puzzle was very clever and I simply was overthinking. The story takes place over 5 chapters and includes a nice balance of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat. The puzzles were my favorite aspect because they brought me back to taking notes off-screen and trying to figure it out like back when there was no internet. Taking pictures on my phone to reference when I revisited an area, I was missing something for prior was a great feeling and is an important, sometimes underrated mechanic for survival horror.

You can have a play style that will help you with hints but not in a super obvious way, or have the game not show you anything like the original and hope for the best. This will make for a lengthier adventure. For the story aspect, the original Derseto was mostly filled with zombies, and other monsters, with no human NPCs. With this Alone in the Dark, we are introduced to a full cast of characters you will connect with throughout and help flesh out the story including connecting the previously released demo to the lore of the game.

Who you choose to play with will have a different relationship with each of the characters which helps via a playthrough with each character. This makes the overall lore much more interesting for everyone. You will also see a unique dynamic in the relationship between Edward and Emily depending on who you play as.

Now, I must break the frustrating news. During my sessions with the game, I had a variety of issues from audio clipping, and audio not syncing properly to effective story elements which when not accurate, will take away from the expected reaction. This contributed to bringing my enjoyment levels down a bit. We can be understanding to a point. For a 1st time playthrough, you want to be shocked, scared, or intrigued and some of these hiccups cheated me out of this.

The real nail in the coffin with the negative experience was a couple of potentially game-breaking glitches I thought I was not going to be able to get passed, but after uninstalling the game and reinstalling, I was able to progress. I will go into these in more depth on my show Pressed for Time in the coming week which will include a spoiler discussion because some of these happened in the last portion of the game.

On the side of being fair I raised these issues with the developers and know this will all be worked out in a patch. As someone who has a special connection to the franchise it was disappointing to say the least, to have some of these problems, but at the same time, this is an IP that doesn’t have a history of great releases. Alone in the Dark is not a bad game and it’s worth the time for any survival horror fan. Just temper your expectations with what I experienced in the event it’s not all addressed on day 1.

It’s such a great time to be a horror game fan and I feel going into Alone in the Dark with an open mind will help for a much more enjoyable experience. I think Jodie Comer and David Harbour did a great job in their respective roles and would love to see more content in the future. We have an IP that inspired so many games into a genre all its own and now it’s time for the master to become the student as it’s learned so much from other staples in horror like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and The Suffering for some examples. Alone in the Dark doesn’t try to mimic any of these games by inspiring them to pay respect to what fans love.

Note: THQ Nordic provided us with an Alone in the Dark PS5 code for review purposes.

Score: 8

Alone in the Dark - PlayStation 5

Price: $39.99

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