Alone in The Dark, preview

We previewed Alone in the Dark, the modern remake of the progenitor of survival horror, by THQ Nordic and Pieces Interactive.

It’s amazing how fast intellectual properties of extraordinary importance can die or be reborn in the magical world of video games. A good game was enough to resurrect the entire Resident Evil series after the huge missteps made in Capcom’s dark decade. At the same time, several bad moves by Square Enix (and a genuinely forgettable online competitive game) have led to legendary names like Deus Ex and Legacy of Kain disappearing from the discussion. Let’s not even talk about the Konami IPs then, because there is a risk of a decent depression if you think of the enormous potential unexpressed for years now.

In short, a prestigious name is not enough to guarantee success on the market: foresight and solid projects are needed to support the brand. This THQ Nordic he seems to know this well, given that recently the house has been hunting for notable IPs with the crystalline intent of exploiting them all. We saw one of these come back during the last showcase, shown in “cut” form to the press and focused only on four new productions.

The first of these was none other than the rumored return of Alone in the Dark: progenitor of the survival horror genre and iconic series … at least until its monstrous qualitative collapse and total disappearance from the spotlight.

Considering the ugliness of the return of 2008 and Illumination, it was legitimate to tremble in front of a possible new “modern” reboot, far from the glories of the past. At THQ, however, the cunning is not lacking and, after listening to the wishes of the fanbase, the choice was that of a return strongly linked to the roots of the saga, as well as strengthened by the presence of an exceptional director. Let’s find out in this Alone preview in The Darkthe return of the original survival horror.

Welcome back to Villa Derceto

Alone in the Dark: the

Alone in the Dark: the “new” villa Derceto is still very disturbing

Wanting to stay true to the spirit of the original, this new title delivers as well two protagonists to choose from and are the same ones that historical fans remember: Emily Hartwood and Edward Carnby. After discovering that her uncle has disappeared from Villa Derceto, a sumptuous resting place for wealthy people with serious psychological problems, Emily hires Edward (who is, in fact, a private investigator) to investigate and accompanies him directly on the spot.

Obviously waiting for them they do not find simple rich people anesthetized by medicinal cocktails, but nightmares that have taken shape, take them to infernal worlds and the usual evil entities engaged in pulling the strings in the shadows. Ordinary for a mustachioed detective (although the mustache is not yet confirmed, as Edward has only been seen from behind).

Alone in the Dark: Monsters have an aspect between the undead and the insect.  Yeah, well ... they're disgusting

Alone in the Dark: Monsters have an aspect between the undead and the insect. Yeah, well … they’re disgusting

As you can see from the premise, the plot it is not exactly identical to the original, but the similarities are many and it is clear the desire to rework a much loved base so as not to betray its spirit. The developers have also revealed to us that the demo available at Gamescom in Cologne (more a playable teaser than a real test, but so be it) will even allow you to play as the little Grace of Alone in the Dark 2, so we suspect that there will be no lack of classic quotes during the campaign.

It is difficult at the moment to make considerations on the narrative, we have seen very little, yet the desire to respect the brand is evident and, as mentioned before, the reins of the project are Mikael Hedberg, writer of SOMA and Amnesia. There are therefore excellent reasons to expect distressing and potentially twisted events, as well as a world disturbing enough to amplify its effects on the player.

Patinated blood

Alone in the Dark: Edward's mustache has not yet been confirmed, but if they are missing, we will lower the game's rating by 3 points

Alone in the Dark: Edward’s mustache has not yet been confirmed, but if they are missing, we will lower the game’s rating by 3 points

Less convincing, in reality, is thegraphic impact of the game, which at the moment does not seem to have the production values ​​necessary to deal with other “illustrious returns”. Attention, there is clearly still a lot to do (there is no expected release date, although development has started in 2019), but the engine is the usual Unreal Engine 4 and, although in general the project looks solid, the character models and settings suffer slightly from the glossy look of some productions that use them.

What little that has been seen of Villa Derceto if nothing else it seemed well detailed, and some scenes confirm the intent of the development team to use also in this case a “duality of settings” beyond Silent Hill, with an alternation between normal locations and disgusting views full of horrid matter organic.

Alone in the Dark: There is clearly a lot of darkness in this return

Alone in the Dark: There is clearly a lot of darkness in this return

Some care has also been taken in the design of the monsters, which look like a mix of undead and insectoids to say the least disgusting. However, only a few basic enemies have been presented, perhaps to avoid revealing too many cards before a more substantial trailer. It seemed good to us – although it is impossible to assess its actual validity now – the weapons response during the action. The approach chosen by Pieces Interactive seems close to that of the Resident Evil remakes: slow motion, camera behind, but rather close, and claustrophobic settings that often leave little room for maneuver to avoid dangers. Yet, unlike Capcom’s notable recent work, where the basic pistol had the power of a pea shooter and required a considerable expenditure of energy to knock out even a single zombie, the guns here seem to have significant power. The service pistol, in fact, seemed to us able to knock out the enemies with a few shots and the shotgun really showed the muscles in the few seconds of gameplay observed. We immediately noticed a discreet difference in the resistance between two different monstrosities in the video, and we would not be surprised if this sense of security was linked only to the very first trailer, with far worse threats still to be discovered. In all honesty? We would also appreciate an acceleration during the action phases, as long as these are handled properly and the monsters require a minimum of movement and tactical thinking to be eliminated.

The new Alone in the Dark is a project that seems to have the strength to stand on its legs, finally true to its roots and potentially capable of reviving a big name. It remains to be seen whether the team will be able to refine the less convincing elements (primarily the graphic impact) in the time remaining, but expectations remain more than good. Let’s hope it’s not just the hope of seeing good Edward’s mustache on top of the world again that makes us positive.

CERTAINTIES

  • Finally a return to the roots of the series
  • The setting is disturbing and the premises more than good
  • There is the author of SOMA and Amnesia at the reins of the project

DOUBTS

  • Production values ​​do not seem exceptional
  • Little has been seen of the game yet

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About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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