The secret brilliance of Alone in the Dark




The AITD series has been around for a long time. In 2008, Eden Games sought to bring the game that pioneered survival-horror to a new generation. While the game did make an appearance on the PS3 as a superior version that addressed a lot of shortcomings, it was initially released on PC, 360, Wii and PS2.

NEXT GEN VISION

From what I remember, the potential of Alone in the Dark started shining the moment a tech demo was revealed showcasing the game’s ‘Twilight 2’ engine. It was impressive for the time. We got to see propagating fire, realistic physics and an interesting take on managing items. The HUD was almost completely replaced with your character looking in first-person mode inside his jacket, picking and choosing which objects to combine to make anything from explosives, incendiary rounds to bandaging wounds. The story was to be divided into ‘episodes’, the parts of which you could play out of sequence, if you wanted. The game was very much aiming for a TV-series type of feel, even including a “previously on Alone in the Dark” line at the beginning of each segment.

DISAPPOINTMENT?

Sadly, the final game was disappointing to many. While it was ambitious from a technical and story-telling standpoint, it failed to reach the potential of its revolutionary ideas. The free-roaming in the PC and 360 versions felt like an unnecessary chore and glitches were plenty to be found. The story, as well as the episodic feel, were criticized for being a cheap excuse to game-breaking glitches and not being as exciting as initially described. Personally, I played the PC version and loved it despite its many flaws. But we’re not going to talk about those versions. Let’s focus on the largely overlooked Wii version for a moment.

ALONE IN THE DARK…WITH A WII REMOTE

I read the reviews. I watched people comment on it on YouTube. But I had to play it on Wii for my own. And I loved it. I knew AITD wasn’t game of the year material but it managed to gain a special place in my heart because it tried to do something different. The Wii version, developed by Hydravision Entertainent, was graphically inferior, lacked free roaming and had a few less item combinations. Believe it or not though, this worked to its advantage. The removal of pointless free-roaming (in order to collect a number of something to progress) streamlined the story. Though I have to say that a big part of the reason I loved it so much was the unique Wii remote gameplay.

CONTROL YOURSELF

The Wii version’s saving grace were its controls. Opening up your jacket, checking your pistol’s ammo, hotwiring a car, driving, swinging around burning objects and putting things in/out of your pocket was so natural. To this day, I believe AITD Wii is one of the best examples of how fun and immersive motion controls could be in a game. It worked and it worked well, even though it didn’t look as good.

WHAT NEXT GEN SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT

At first glance, any version of Alone in the Dark will seem unfinished, unpolished or simply bad; and that may very well be the case. But see past that and you will discover a fun game that tried to do awesome things on every platform it came out on. It gave us a sneak peek at what next-gen was supposed to be. Instead, games nowadays look pretty, but rarely try to immerse you in the world as much as AITD. Before you say it, VR doesn’t count. But that’s a matter for another article.

Alone in the Dark had too much negativity surrounding it when it came out and it definitely isn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Do yourself a favor and check it out. It probably won’t cost much and even if you hate it, the game has an amazing orchestral soundtrack guaranteed to make it worth your while.

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