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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Survival Horror

 

Publisher

Infogrames

 

Developer

Darkworks

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 2001

 

 

- Some genuine frights

- Use your flashlight as a weapon

- Two playable characters with different paths to take

- Nice visuals

- Some creepy sound effects

- Has a good map function

- Just the right length

 

 

- Brought back bad memories of the Blair Witch Trilogy

- Control, while fairly intuitive, gets in the way of playing the game via the keyboard

- Lackluster music

- Console haters will bitch a lot

- What the hell happened to Carnby?

 

 

Review: Alone in the Dark 4 (Dreamcast)
Review: Resident Evil Zero (Gamecube)

Review: Resident Evil (Gamecube)

 

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Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

Do you want to play a game that tasks you with blowing away other-worldly creatures with a triple-barreled shotgun, collect Native American artifacts, destroy a contraption of unspeakable evil, and save the world? Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (NN) may just be the game to satiate your desire.

 

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NN puts you in the role of Edward Carnby or Aline Cedrac. Both characters have been sent to the mysterious Shadow Island to unravel a few mysteries, not the least of which, is the presence of numerous zombies and spectral entities. On the way to the island, the plane is attacked by something, forcing the pair to parachute to "safety" – Carnby outside the big house that dominates the island, and Aline on the roof of the house. It’s at this point you get to choose which path you’ll take. Aline’s path has more puzzle solving involved, while Carnby, the battle-hardened veteran of the first three games, is presented with lots of zombies to gun down.

For whatever reason, I chose Aline on my first run through the game. Maybe it was because I wanted to try a different character to begin with, maybe it was because I wanted to explore my feminine side, or possibly it was because Aline’s a graduate of the school of Scantily Clad Heroines. After the first few minutes I couldn’t stop thinking about another game – Blair Witch 1: Rustin Parr. The similarities are striking – the big boobs, working for a government agency, a supernatural theme, no lip synch whatsoever, Native American lore, some "what the hell?" camera angles – so much so that the only thing really separating the two games is the stupid forest. The control is close to that found in Rustin Parr, with inventory management similar to the Resident Evil series, and really suits playing via a gamepad. The keyboard / mouse combination is okay, but it takes a lot of getting used to and there are some strange quirks. (No matter what keyboard button I used for turning right, I couldn’t run and turn right at the same time.) Plus, this is supposed to be a PC game, but it definitely plays like a console port. Case in point, you can’t just hit a button to reload your weapon. Sure, you can wait until your ammo is depleted and your weapon is automatically reloaded, but chances are you’ll want to reload even after waxing one bad guy so you’re ready if something big is around the next corner. Instead, you’re forced to access the inventory screen, then punch through some menus to reload, then make a few more button presses to get out of the inventory screen. Even using the keyboard, you don’t get the option. And you just can’t turn fast enough! I died more than a few times after taking a few paces into a room, a big lizard-looking thing dropping down behind me and biting into the back of my head all because I couldn’t turn around fast enough. Thankfully, you don’t have to have a direct bead on the bad guys – just aim in their general direction and let them have it.

 

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- PC Game Reviews

- Survival Horror Game Reviews

- Reviews of Game Published by Infogrames

Visually, NN shines. The flashlight that each character carries lends itself to create some truly creepy environments. (The flashlight also wards off those creatures sensitive to light – keeping them in the shadows. If the flashlight threatened to go out, then you might have a cause for concern but the battery power is infinite.) The many manifestations of evil look terrific (although slightly derivative of other monsters, i.e. Half-Life) and their animations are smooth. Environments 

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are nice to look at, even though most of the time they’re in near darkness. Finding items is not hard due to the fact that most light up and give a twinkle when your flashlight passes over them. This isn’t always the case. A few times, I just hit the action button randomly and next thing I knew I was picking up an amulet of Saving. (More on those amulets later.) As great as NN looks, there’s a downside – the camera angles. Scenes don’t flip around like in the Blair Witch games (or cause you to wonder just where you are), but there are still the occasions of the camera angles getting in the way of what you’re doing, like using your grenade launcher effectively on a particularly nasty bad guy. It’s minimal, but it’s still there – and at seemingly critical moments.

And these critical moments almost always end in reloading a game and trying again. In contravention of the Armchair Empire laws of PC game design (Section 2: you must let me save my game anywhere), NN has these silly things called amulets of Saving. Carnby and Aline, start off with a limited number of them, but they’re dropped all over the place like loose change so don’t be afraid to use them. However, NN limits you to four – four! – save slots. The other flaw to this amulet thing is that it doesn’t work the way you expect. Upon restoring a game I expect to pick up right where I leave off. NN makes you start from the beginning of the area you saved in, which forces you to repeat actions you may have done a million times before only to get killed in the same spot again and again. Nowhere is this more apparent than near the end game.

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The story is enough to hold your interest. Being able to play both Carnby and Aline on their two separate stories adds to the replayability and is neat to be able to see the effects the other character has on the environment. The story strands are interwoven with Carnby and Aline meeting up to help advance each other’s stories. And there are plenty of diaries lying around to read to get the full story. There isn’t a lot of tension though. There are a good number of "jump in your seat" moments but nothing that will make you quiver and lose control of your bladder. Part of the problem is owed to the music, which fails to stir any feelings of dread. Ambient sounds are well done and I think they should have been relied upon rather. Sometimes silence is the scarier than a new-age type soundtrack. To keep track of everything is a solid auto-map function and a notebook that helps to remind you what you’re supposed to be doing.

I was really looking forward to Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, which is probably why I feel less than satisfied. It’s got some good moments – a few marriages of sight and sound that run a shiver down your back – but overall standard stuff. If you’re a fan of survival horror that the original Alone in the Dark pioneered (featuring a very different looking Edward Canby), you’ll be right at home here and will probably have a great time. But as a PC game that feels like a port, especially with the save game method, it’s only good not great or excellent – due mainly to the items mentioned above. Think before buying this one.

- Omni

(August 20, 2001)

 

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