I remember being too afraid to play the original Alone in the Dark games in my younger years, so my first experience of the series came with the 2008 revival, and yeah… it wasn’t great. I figured I’d dip back in a few years later with 2015’s Alone in the Dark: Illumination, which just so happened to be one of the worst games I’ve ever played. Given that the series is iconic for offering the first foray into 3D survival horror, it hasn’t seen a lot of love since its early years, but there was something about the latest entry that had me intrigued since its reveal.

Well, I’m happy to report that this revival is of a much higher quality, with the recently released Alone in the Dark reboot offering a tantalising survival horror experience that kept me hooked in from the moment I started playing.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Alone in the Dark’s tale is told from the perspective of two protagonists: Edward Carnby, a private investigator who is looking into the disappearance of a man named Jeremy Hartwood, and Emily Hartwood, Jeremy’s niece who hired Edward in the first place. Prior to his disappearance, Jeremy was last held at Derceto Manor, a psychiatric hospital that itself holds many disturbing secrets. Whilst things seem relatively normal at first, it doesn’t take long for the veil to slip, with Edward and Emily soon battling against dark and deadly forces as they look to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I was a big fan of the narrative, with the eerie atmosphere, clever twists, and wonderful performances of both David Harbour as Edward Carnby and Jodie Comer as Emily Hartwood all coming together nicely to ensure Alone in the Dark’s storytelling is gripping throughout. Whilst I’d be lying if I said it was the scariest survival horror game that I’ve played, it’s certainly oozing with tension and will keep players on edge as they look to keep their wits about them as a means to survive through the night. Players can experience the story from the perspective of both characters too, with the tale of both Edward and Emily complementing one another as well as offering a satisfying sense of foresight on the second playthrough.

Alone in the Dark doesn’t stray too far from the modern survival horror blueprint, with the game playing out from an over-the-shoulder perspective and featuring a blend of puzzle-solving and action-focused gunplay against the myriad of creatures out to get you. It plays things relatively safe, which is understandable given the negative response to the most recent entries in the series, but it does mean that you shouldn’t expect too many surprises from a gameplay perspective across your playthrough.

“I won’t spoil anything here, but Alone in the Dark definitely left me in the mindset to ‘expect the unexpected’ and it made for some really cool moments in-game.”

Luckily, most aspects of the gameplay are well delivered and ensure players will be engrossed as they unravel more of Derceto Manor. The puzzling offers a very satisfying blend of creative logic-driven scenarios and simple conundrums that rely on players using the right item in the right place, whilst the accessible map borrows a few ideas from modern Resident Evil titles by marking completed rooms to ensure players don’t waste their time scouring areas of no use. Each puzzle is cleverly designed, and whilst the game does offer plenty of tips to help you on your way, it ALWAYS felt good to solve each enigma.

And if you prefer your puzzling to be more old-school and offer less guidance? You can play in the game’s Classic Mode that does away with the hints and guidance… you know… just like the games of the 90s. I didn’t play in that mode, but I love that they’ve included it for survival horror veterans who don’t need any handholding.

The combat is fine, though it does lack the excitement seen in other modern releases in the survival horror genre. Your range of weaponry is very ordinary in design, whilst no weapon really feels like it packs a punch – whether that’s when fighting up-close and personal or when picking shots off from afar. There are some defensive manoeuvres you can perform to get out of harm’s ways and there are also some stealth mechanics in play that allow you to evade the attention of wandering foes, but neither mechanic feels particularly strong. It’d help if the enemies themselves put up a bit more of a fight, but with their AI lacking the finesse to overwhelm the player and each rarely taking more than a handful of bullets to be felled, it’s hard to get too buzzed over the combat in the game. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not a highlight of the experience.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Exploration is a lot more intriguing, with plenty of locales to scour through across Derceto Manor to keep players on the edge of their seat (and constantly in worry of what might be lurking around each corner). Everything is expertly designed to maintain the tension throughout the game’s roughly eight-hour runtime, with plenty of unexpected surprises showing up across the manor that change things up significantly. I won’t spoil anything here, but Alone in the Dark definitely left me in the mindset to ‘expect the unexpected’ and it made for some really cool moments in-game. There’s plenty of lore to be uncovered and collectibles to be gathered across the environment, whilst the visuals are impressive across the board and complemented by a mostly consistent 60fps frame rate when played in Performance Mode. It’s certainly a looker, and whilst I’ve seen some early reviewers complain of glitches in their playthrough, mine was fuss-free.

Alone in the Dark Review

Alone in the Dark puts the series in the right direction following some mishaps over the past eighteen years, with the unnerving storytelling, clever puzzling, and intriguing setting making for a genuinely enthralling horror experience. Sure, it has some missteps here and there with the combat sequences and it does play things very safe, but the intense atmosphere and flurry of surprises ensure that this marks a return to form for the old-school survival horror series.

Developer: Pieces Interactive
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PC
Website: https://aloneinthedark.thqnordic.com/