Alone in the Dark
Posted 14 July 2008 - 07:52 PM
The game itself is interesting. The story thus far is good and there have already been some genuine "Oh jive" moments. I find myself intrigued to discover more.
Which is good, because this game makes you do things with a controller that make no fricken sense.
Hotwiring Vehicles, Swinging brooms, firing weapons...all of it independent of anything else is just flat out neat (Especially hotwiring a vehicle on the seat of your pants, as there is no "pause" feature while doing these mini-games), but it requires you to be able to switch up your hands at a moment's notice. Instead of targeting an enemy with the shoulder button and swinging with a trigger button, you get to manually swing around the controller to make your character swing.
It made sense and felt natural in R.A.D. for the PS2 (Where you controlled a giant robot), here it makes combat extremely clunky. Especially when effective combat boils down to "Pick up Flammable Object/Light on Fire/Chase badguy around while object is extended to burn it to death".
And then there's the camera system. Alone in the Dark comes in two modes: First Person and Third Person. Neither modes helps much. In First Person, the character's floaty physics (He...SLIDES) really hampers problem solving, and in third person the camera becomes static. STATIC CAMERAS! Did the Echo Studios team learn nothing from the past few years of Survival/Horror games?
Oh and the game does little to make you love it to start with, where you have to constantly manually blink to keep your vision from being blurry (It's quickly dropped, but as the segment it's used for is designed to be the "Calm before the storm" as it were, it makes it really difficult to appreciate the subtle "Something's wrong here..." moments).
Also the game can't seem to decide if it's a traditional Survival Horror or a Platformer. Though in the games defense, the platforming segments are extremely well done and allow plenty of wiggle room for the game's floaty physics.
But the inventory system, the invention system, the set up, the atmosphere, the story...
There's a lot of good ideas in this game. It's just marred by a terrible, terrible execution. The control scheme almost makes the game unplayable. I suddenly see why they set the game up to be "skippable" to the end with the DVDesque menu.
I'm going to give it a little more time to impress me, but no matter how interested I am in the story or what's going on, if I find myself continuing to get frustrated with it, I'm probably going to just turn it into Gamestop, get some credit, and get me something else.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:05 PM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 07:30 PM
Another thing is I was approaching the game from the incorrect mindset. "Survival Horror" for me meant the likes of Silent Hill and Resident Evil, but those are more "Action" Survival Horror games. Alone in the Dark is a throwback to true Survival Horror. It's not about blasting all the monsters, it's about staying alive.
Also, all the Puzzles within the game are mortality based. No key cards here - but one misstep and it's back to trial and error. Thus the game gets repetitive, but like Myst and the Action games of the bygone era, you can't help but go "HA!" or "Oh...DUH!" when you finally solve the puzzle.
For example, a lot of the world of "Alone in the Dark" is destructable. When apparently stuck in a area, I simply took a bottle of liquid that explodes when shot, attached some double sided tape, tossed it on a door, shot it and...voila. Problem solved.
Humiliatingly, it took me 10 minutes to figure that out. And then another three to realize I could use the Dead Body my explosion exposed to put out the flames around my makeshift escape route.
Also, there's a real sense of entertainment when you load a saved game and you get a "Previously, on "Alone in the Dark"..." followed by cutscenes of all that has transpired in the game since your current location.
The story continues to enthrall, and the presentation of the story is absolutely masterful. There's a sequence in which you are in a taxi (Vehicle control is absolutely SOLID) and have to outrun a rampaging force that is literally tearing up the landscape around you. Like something out of a movie, it really hammers home the fact that this is a very nasty entity out to get you.
Once I got into more open areas, the third person camera also loosened up and become a traditional over the shoulder cam, it only pulls out and becomes static when there's something on the screen you need to see that you wouldn't otherwise.
All in all, I'm going to really dig "Alone in the Dark". The "Season of Television" DVD quality the game has lends it a unique identity, especially when it comes to story presentation. The storyline is enthralling, the gameplay is actually rather brilliant, if slightly flawed (At present, it's too damn easy to set something on fire to take care of enemies), and the Music.
Oh my Gawd, I could gush for days about the music. If you're a fan of chants, or just female vocalizations...the music adds a lot of flavor to the game.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 08:38 PM
Alone in the Dark is vastly underrated. Rough around the edges but a great game and yes the soundtrack is EPIC.