It's a clumsy port, but what's even more disappointing is that it's a clumsy port of only a middling console game.
In the early '90s, something happened that changed computer gaming forever. It's an upheaval that can be traced to a single focal point: France. In games like Out of This World, Flashback, and Alone in the Dark, French game developers created an entirely new genre--the action-adventure game--and opened new vistas for future game developers to explore. But while Out of this World and Flashback featured stunningly lifelike animation, polygon graphics, and environment-based puzzles, it was the original Alone in the Dark that left the most lasting impression on gaming. Inspired by the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft and featuring a constantly shifting cinematic third-person perspective, Alone in the Dark's blend of gunplay, tension-filled exploration, 3D characters, and intricate puzzles made it an instant classic. It's been six years since the previous Alone in the Dark game, so longtime fans of the series have every right to expect a top-notch product that melds the latest in graphics with the same sort of atmosphere and gameplay that made the original a classic. Unfortunately, everything about this new game--from its infuriating save-game system to its awkward keyboard controls--shows that it was primarily designed for video game systems, which it was. It's a clumsy port, but what's even more disappointing is that it's a clumsy port of only a middling console game.
Though the game's resolution is locked at 640x480, the in-game graphics are generally crisp and convincing, and have plenty of detail and good lighting effects. The only exceptions are the game's washed-out skyscapes and inexplicably blurry close-ups of inventory items such as maps, blueprints, and photos. Also, the video used in the intro is extremely lackluster--the whole thing looks as though someone smeared petroleum jelly over the camera--but at least the characters' lips move when they speak in this sequence; during the rest of the game their mouths are locked shut as they carry on conversations.
In The New Nightmare, Infogrames has abandoned the 1930s ambience of the first three Alone in the Dark games for a present-day setting in which you play as either private eye Edward Carnby or anthropologist Aline Cedrac. You might think these two might have a rendezvous with Scooby Doo since they're both headed for Shadow Island, a moniker almost as cheesy as the game's subtitle. Cedrac's been sent by a couple of shadowy figures to assist Professor Obed Morton in the translation of some tablets left by a tribe of Native Americans called the Akbanis, and to ensure she makes the trip, her contacts have given her reason to suspect Morton might actually be the father she never met. Carnby's ostensibly tagging along to watch over Aline, but he also wants to find out more about the death of his friend Charles Fiske, who was found dead off the coast of Shadow Island. After their plane mysteriously crashes, the two are separated, and the game proper begins.
Carnby and Aline are both cut from the standard video game character cloth: Carnby's flowing hair and trench coat make him look like The Crow minus makeup, while Aline is a busting-out babe who was poured into her jeans and tank top. Each character takes a different path to the game's finale: As Carnby you'll spend much more time fighting, while Aline has more puzzles to solve. Although you communicate with the other character from time to time via walkie-talkie, these are generally scripted events--the only time you actively use the walkie-talkie is during a silly puzzle in which Carnby must follow Aline's directions and radio back what he sees. Unfortunately, this is also where you'll encounter a bug: If you use the menu system to access the radio, Carnby can't contact Aline; you instead must use the radio hotkey to get past the scene.
You play from the same type of constantly changing third-person perspective that debuted in the original Alone in the Dark--which means the same problems with combat and exploration that were lodged against that game are still intact all these years later. That is, it's too easy to get trapped in a spot where you can't see what your character's doing, and the keyboard-only control (you can use the mouse only for a third-person "free-look" and to aim and fire weapons while stock-still) means you'll watch in agony as your character slowly turns around to face an attacker. Also, the decision to use the same key for actions (opening doors, picking up objects) and firing weapons means you can accidentally pop off a round as you explore with your gun in the aiming position. That's not good, since ammo can be a scarce commodity for Aline.
- Player Reviews: 10
- Game Universe:
- Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (DC, PS, GBC, PS2, PC),
- Alone in the Dark (1992) (PC, MAC, 3DO, ARCH),
- Alone in the Dark 2 (PC, MAC, 3DO, PC98),
- Alone in the Dark 3 (PC, MAC),
- Alone in the Dark: One-Eyed Jack's Revenge (PS, SAT),
- Alone in the Dark: Inferno (PS3, X360, PC, WII, PS2),
- Alone in the Dark: The Trilogy 1+2+3 (PC)
- Number of Players: