Alone in the Dark: Inferno Review
Alone in the Dark: Inferno box art
System: PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Eden Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atari 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 18, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Survival horror was mentioned in relation to combat mechanics, but it doesn't define Alone in the Dark's genre. Instead, the game is better classified as a supernatural thriller and the developers probably wouldn't mind that label as the DVD-like chapter system employed gives a movie vibe. Alone in the Dark is segmented into eight episodes and those episodes are made up of sequences. At any time you can fast forward or rewind. If you want to jump ahead an entire episode or two – effectively skipping hours of gameplay – you can, or if you just want to skip to the next sequence, forfeiting only about 10 minutes of gameplay, you can do that too.

Alone in the Dark: Inferno screenshot

The ability to jump back-and-forth in the story continuum is handy, as there are many segments that are so poorly designed that you'll want to skip them and you'll be grateful the option is there. One such sequence turns Central Park into a race track that you must zip around while avoiding bats that can somehow pickup your car. Another Central Park segment requires you to go on a fetch quest, killing a certain type of enemy over-and-over. There's even a bizarre portion that mimics the forklift, box moving mini-game from Shenmue.

Many of these deficiencies wouldn't carry so much weight if Alone in the Dark had a good story to tout. However, the script (centering on anything and everything Satanic) runs from juvenile – with characters constantly swearing – to predictable. It all leads up to a set of endings that seem like they were thrown in at the last minute. Neither one gives a proper sense of conclusion. In fact, both, in a way, negate all the work you've accomplished in the game, rendering them almost useless.

What about all the fixes promised for this version? Well, the camera definitely works better, giving you a better view from third-person and the ability to map item combinations – like the ever useful fire bullets – to the D-pad, which cuts down on item prep time. However, for a definitive version of a game, there are still technical problems. Edward fell through the world on more than one occasion, resulting in some very weird death animations – not something you'd expect from a game that's been delayed so many times to assure a certain level of quality.

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Alone in the Dark is ultimately a lesson in good intentions gone awry. Nearly all of its novel ideas misfire. What's so interesting about Inferno is the mentality that a patch was all that was needed to make a better game. The original was defined by a lackluster story, awkward controls, and merely okay gameplay – that's not a formula that needs a few tweaks, it's one that should be scrapped entirely. Nevertheless, Inferno is the definitive version of Alone in the Dark, but that's not the biggest compliment one can give.

By Jason Lauritzen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.0
Graphics
Lighting work – from shadows to fire effects – is superb, yet there are plenty of bland textures and issues with screen-tearing and anti-aliasing. It doesn't help that this is supposed to be the “patched' version and the character will still glitch through the environment.
2.5
Control
Aiming never feels as spot-on as it should and the dual-analog stick melee combat system is very uncomfortable. Setting up favorites (all handled via the D-pad) works well.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Aside from the occasional epic, choir-filled music track, there really isn't much to like. The voice acting – which is paired with a terrible script – is bad from beginning to end.
2.0
Play Value
The story is cliché and annoying rather than scary; the controls are unnecessarily difficult; and this version – supposedly “fixed” – has so many technical and design issues that it renders the game a chore to play.
2.4
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Full 360-degrees camera control: Enhanced camera controls allows complete freedom of the camera and better handling of third person movement for even more immersive gameplay enabling you to view the fire and mass destruction they are causing in all of its glory.
  • Fine-tuned controls: Quicker and smoother reactivity of the hero's movements in third person view increases the pace of the game and makes for faster, reflexive gameplay during tense fighting scenarios.
  • Inventory system more accessible: More logical jacket inventory system with the ability to scroll rapidly through the inventory with the D-pad or analog stick to combine objects. In addition, gameplay is paused when accessing the inventory system to allow maximum creativity in combining items to create unique weapons.
  • More tips: Additional on-screen tips will help players quickly adapt to controls and easily understand how to overcome tricky situations.
  • Spectral Vision tuning: A tutorial earlier in the storyline explains the need to burn roots in order to gain spectral vision (a power that grants you the ability to see the unseen) and difficulty tuning means less spectral vision is required to reach the end of the game.


  • Screenshots / Images
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