Alone In The Dark Preview
With the exception of the brilliant Resident Evil 4, horror games have been lacking of late. Before RE4, all horror games tended to be of a similar formula – that being shooting zombies, dodgy controls, shooting monsters and, well shooting more zombies really. Alone in the Dark is the new and first Xbox 360 survival horror game set to revitalise both the horror genre and the Alone in the Dark series.
The game revolves around the misadventures of one Edward Carnby, a paranormal investigator that has somehow found his way onto an investigation in Central Park, New York. Fact fans may have noticed that this is the same bloke who was the main protagonist in the first Alone in the Dark game, which was actually set in the 1920s. Either Carnby hides his age well, not looking a day over 30, or there is something else at work here. Maybe a Doctor Who inspired story?
The game is set around exploring the huge Central Park, and will consist of (according to Eden Games): “exploring what happens to living beings after they die and exactly what lies beyond this mortal coil”. The setting of New York allows Eden to take advantage of the cultural melting pot that exists there, so there will be many people with many different beliefs on what happens to us when we die. These beliefs that are presented by the various NPCs will ultimately shape Carnby’s own beliefs, which in turn will shape the outcome of the game.
However, this rather spiritual storyline would be impossible to pull off without a good script, so this is where Eden has decided to take a different approach to storytelling. Similar to hit television shows Lost and 24, the game is set out in episodes, with each episode lasting about 30-40 minutes. In true TV style, each episode will also end in a nail biting cliff-hanger and each new episode will start with a “previously on Alone in the Dark” catch up video to push gamers on that little bit further. This should allow Eden to get rid of 10 hour long movie scripts that have blundered games for way too long, and is one step towards making their game more action packed and immersive a lÃ¡ Resident Evil 4.
Although a good story is one stop towards making the best Alone in the Dark game yet, it isn’t the full picture. The game is also going to need new game features and clever additions to propel it forward, and it’s in this department that Alone in the Dark doesn’t disappoint. The main anticipated feature is huge environment interaction, a stand out in this part being the driving of cars. When a car is entered, the game switches to a first person perspective which allows the player to interact with such minute details as the heating, to clear the fogged up windshield, the radio, to tune into police frequencies and listen to a spot of Marvin Gaye, search the glove compartment, for that vital extra clip of ammo or hotwire the car if you don’t have the key. Indeed, it seems as though Carnby isn’t afraid of a bit of grand theft auto in his spare time, and when hotwiring is activated a minigame launches. For those of you not in tune with illegal activity, [It seems you are! -ed] this minigame involves trying to link the two wires to the ignition together to start the car but if you get the wrong two wires the car cleverly honks it horn which may alert passers-by to your midnight wrong doings. Other than driving cars though, Carnby can also jump into the back of moving vehicles and can ride with a shotgun to shoot enemies.
So it seems that Eden Games are going all out to make this Alone in the Dark the best yet. A new story structure, new interactive environments and varied gameplay could all lead this horror game out of the dark and into the light of classic games. Although Eden seem to be reluctant to show any length of in-game footage or any extensive game details, we don’t think this is going to be a sleeper stinker, much rather a surprise hit.
Alone in the Dark is scheduled to scare us silly in the third quarter of 2006.