|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC||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: June 24, 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|
by Pete Richards
March 1, 2007 - A series that began on PC in 1992, Alone in the Dark is looking to make its first next-gen appearance a realistic and terrifying one. Giving inspiration to such games as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark helped pioneer the survival-horror genre. Now publishers at Atari are focused on expanding the game's image of survival-horror to more of a story-driven action game. Of course, AITD promises to remain as nerve-racking as ever, with evil lurking around every corner.
Though the original game took place in 1926, Edward Carnby is back to battle the paranormal in present-day Central Park in New York City. How Carnby hasn't aged since 1926 is beyond me, but Atari says there is an explainable logic that may even tie in with the game's plot.
The Central Park backdrop will be different from the narrow corridors and unlit rooms we're used to seeing in these types of games, though the eerie atmosphere of the park at night promises to be as freaky as ever. As Carnby travels though a dim and uncomfortable Central Park, he will be able to interact with almost every object he can find in the fully interactive real-time environment. The ability to use your surroundings in different ways will allow a number of methods to pass certain tasks.
"Our new format for Alone in the Dark greatly enhances the pace and tension, keeping players permanently hooked into the engrossing story surrounding the mysteries of Central Park and beyond," said Eden Games Director David. "You barely have time to breathe before the next cliffhanger hits you."
Eden is working on a more realistic game with a whole new appearance and cinematic feel. 2005 blessed us with an easily forgotten film adaptation of Alone In The Dark, starring a poorly cast Christian Slater as Carnby. This may be part of the reason why Eden are concentrating highly on the game's depth of field, motion blur, and dense lighting effects to make it feel more like a film or television series.
And the next-gen Alone in the Dark is set up very much like a television series, with an entirely new game structure. The story will be divided into 30-40 minute episodes the player must pass one at a time. The end of each episode will feature a suspenseful cliffhanger much like a television series that will leave the player wanting to move on and find out what happens next. Each time the player enters a new game or loads a previous game, the episode begins with a summary of what happened on the previous episode.
The developers at Eden have gone through some lengths to innovate new ways of playing the game. Like most games of this nature, the player builds up his inventory of weapons that can be switched back in forth in order. Eden are trying to avoid a HUD type of game, with no menus or health meters. In Alone In the Dark, all weapons and gadgets will be inside Carnby's jacket and the player will be able to pick items from his pockets with a button-click. In high-tense situations, players will be able to quickly grab an object, put it away, and grab a different object. This better simulates real-life, as it limits the amount of weapons you can possess to what the average person could actually carry.
Also new to Alone in the Dark, the player will be able to enter a vehicle and then switch from driver's seat to passenger seat and backseat with a flick of the analog. In moments of self-defense, the player will also be able to shoot through the car windows when being attacked by supernatural beings. Switching from seat to seat within the car will be vital to getting different vantage points when shooting at attackers.
The new Alone in the Dark will also require the player to earn skill in hotwiring. Contrary to what popular video games have taught us, most parked cars do not already come with keys in the ignition. The player will have to use stealth when breaking into cars and become accustomed to ripping apart the steering column and lining up the proper wires to start the engine. Line up the wrong wires, however, and you will set off the car alarm, drawing attention from enemies. Upon starting a car, the player will be involved in mission that require skilled driving and weaving through fires and demolished cars.
After giving life to a genre, Atari is continuing to innovate modern gaming with its horror-survival series. While they have only given us a glimpse of the long-awaited sequel thus far, Alone in the Dark promises to make a triumphant return with another heart-thumping survival experience.
CCC Freelance Writer
May 3, 2006
Can Eden raise the dead and restore life to the original survival horror series? by Vaughn Smith
Before gamers were formally introduced to Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, Jill Valentine and Harry Mason (3 points if you know what game Harry's from) there was Edward Carnby. While many credit Capcom's Resident Evil franchise as being the first survival horror game, it was Infogrames' Alone in the Dark released a full three years before the PlayStation would go on sale and four years before RE would hit the shelves in February 1996.
Edward Carnby, AITD's bowtie-wearing, zombie-punching protagonist has seen his fair share of change since his first appearance 14 years ago. He's went from an Ichobod Crane look-a-like to brooding long haired hero to Christian Slater (in the craptacular film) to his new appearance in AITD: NDE which looks to be cross between Ben Affleck and Ryan Seacrest. In that case maybe he'll scare the monsters out of the game with his bad acting or simply get America to vote them out.
Pretty boy or not, it does look like Carby has his work cut out for him in his latest adventure. While the original game(s) took place in the 20th century - the 1920's to be exact - NDEs timeline places our hero in 2006 smack dab in the middle of New York's Central Park. I don't know about you, but Central Park at night is scary enough. Part of the mystery Carnby will have to solve along the way is why he's in 2006....and why are hotdogs, like $4? The setting will allow gamers a wide open playground (slayground?) for them to explore while meeting NPC's from all walks of life in the park. The "death" theme will engulf the narrative and Carnby will have to sift through the opinions of those he encounters on his adventure and decide what is important to his investigation.
One extremely intriguing bit of news before we find out more from E3 is Eden's design philosophy. Instead of creating a movie atmosphere, which so many games attempt these days with usually disappointing results since a game cannot hope to sustain the sense of panic and excitement for 10+ hours without falling into repetition, NDE will be broken down into smaller 30 minute segments. Not only will this allow players to jump into the game for a few minutes and easily jump out again, but it can keep the pacing fresh since each "episode" will be self-contained. Eden has said that players will even see "Coming Events" for the next levels which will give them some insight as to what's waiting for them.
Various styles of gameplay such as puzzles, exploration, stealth, and melee combat promises to keep the players attention while the eerie visuals will certainly keep them on the edge of their seats. The next gen graphics look absolutely stunning and we can't wait to Alone in the Dark: Near Death Investigation in action.
CCC Former Site Director