Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare Review
developer: Spiral House
genre: Action Adventure
PII-300, 64MB RAM, 400MB HDD
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 25, 01
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There, after some impatient waiting for the latest sequel of the Lovecraft inspired horror video game series we are alone in the dark again. We could hardly wait to see this latest issue of the legendary series that was one of the first to introduce vector based graphics into video gaming in those days... Unfortunately, unlike its predecessors, this fourth sequel could hardly be called revolutionary...
We sure had enough time to get grips with the story... The New Nightmare is set on the dark and perilous Shadow Island which holds some unresolved mysteries. And as Mulder and Scully did not seem too interested in the matter, Edward Carnby and Aline Cedrac enter the stage. Edward's good and pretty nosy friend, Charles Fiske disappeared trying to find some ancient tablets which he thought could unleash dangerous energies on this island. Edward, being a true hero decided to investigate this case, and Aline, a high spirited adventurer and anthropologist joined him for some less obvious reasons. They soon find themselves in deep shit as their plane breaks down just before they reach the island, so they had to parachute on it...
This is where you get to choose which of the two adventurers you would like to lead. I liked this feature as it meant the game is not utterly linear: your choice of character will determine the type of tasks and puzzles you will have to complete. Edward's main trump is his big revolver, which is enough for you to conclude he will be using more force on the Shadow Island than Aline armed only with a flashlight. She will have to take a less aggressive stance and concentrate on solving puzzles.
I automatically chose the male variant of the game at first, and now, come to think of it, it seems a bit more difficult. The number of monsters you will encounter if you play the game with Edward is far bigger than otherwise, and the few extra puzzles you would get as Aline, are easily overcome... In fact, well, maybe I just wasn't that good at this game's combat system... especially in the situations when enemies suddenly pop up and give you little time to react. Not to speak of some locations where enemies respawn after you kill them, which can be very inconvenient if you do not have little ammo to spare. Though I guess the controls make this combat system complicated more than anything else.
I didn't think I would get to this so soon, but it was imminent, as it is the worst thing about this game. I know that all previous sequels had the same control method and that the authors wanted to preserve authenticity, but this is way too much. After mere ten minutes of play, you will be sick of the way your character moves and responds to commands. It seems as though everything around you is happening quickly, and you simply cannot react in time... A monster suddenly appears behind you, and it will take you 2-3 seconds to turn, let alone run. If I were in a situation like that it would take me 2-3 seconds to be 100 yards away! All this is done with keyboard (or gamepad / joystick), and the mouse is only used for looking around and targeting. Fortunately, targeting isn't that hard - it will be enough to turn towards the enemy and pull the trigger and he will fall... The entire control interface is slow and poorly done. Even when you try to stop the cut-scenes, you will experience a certain delay, and if you're nervous, and pres the key several times to remove the menu from screen it will appear again... etc... etc...
The inventory has that classical Resident Evil design, which means that it is more suited for the needs of console gamers and their control devices. Even though it looks good with all the 3D objects, typical PC gamers will find it annoying as it requires some typing on the keyboard to get the even simplest things done.
Nice dark atmosphere and flashlight effects, can be really scary at times;
Pathetic controls, not too interesting puzzles.