Like the two other games of the Alone in the Dark series, Alone in the Dark 3 follows the fate of private detective Edward Carnby. He finds out that an film crew has disappeared while making an western film in a place called "Slaughter Gulch". His good friend, Emily Hartwood (From Alone In The Dark), is among the disappeared.
Departing from the classic formula of the first two titles, the game does not take place in haunted mansions but in a remote western ghost town. The game engine is virtually the same as the other Alone in the Dark games and features the trademark cinematic camera and mix of action sequences with some minor puzzling. The game was not well received by both by critics as well as fans of the series, who claimed that the departure from the classic setting drastically changed the feel of the game for the worse.
The gameplay in Alone in the Dark 3 aligns itself very closely with the basic mechanics of its predecessors. Thus, the game makes use of the arrow keys for movement and aiming, while the enter key is used for interaction with items and the environment. Very basic inventory management is necessary for most puzzles in the game.
Over the course of the game, Edward will encounter enemies which can be dispatched using a number of hand-to-hand weapons and firearms. Enemies who appear in the game include mutants, zombies, and undead cowboys. When in combat, the limits of the keyboard controls for aiming are very apparent. Yet, despite mixed reactions from fans, these controls remain more or less the same for this third installment.
As in the first game, Alone in the Dark 3 focuses more on puzzle solving than direct combat. The puzzles usually involve using items in the inventory in combination with the environment. Occasionally, puzzles will require precision aiming to throw items for a desired solution.