chlomo's Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Dreamcast) review

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  • chlomo has written a total of 15 reviews. The last one was for Hollow

You Got The Triple Barrelled Shotgun

It's kind weird to see Alone in the Dark go and use elements from Resident Evil, a franchise that itself used elements from the original Alone in the Dark, but here we are. This is easily one of my favourite horror games ever but objectively it's far from perfect.

The game follows either Edward Carnby or Aline Cedrac as they travel to Shadow Island, one to find the murderer of his dead partner and the other to interview the reclusive Obed Morton and find out if he's her father like she believes. The story quickly descends into a fight for the survival of humanity from the world of darkness they uncover as their investigation on the Morton family takes a dark turn.

The gameplay as mentioned above is a lot like Resident Evil, combat and puzzles, it's just toned down and there's no difficulty options, unlike the typewriters in that game you have saving charms which allow you to save anywhere but with the low threat of monsters and the abundance of ammo and medkits... I rarely needed to save as nearly every situation was manageable, which is fine. Carnby starts off with a double barrelled pistol and if you're clever you only need to use it against roughly two or three monsters before the next weapon comes along and before you know it your inventory is a fallout-style arsenal where you can have rocket launchers, plasma weapons and all sorts of sci-fi stuff and you only need to fall back on your older weapons if you really messed up. Also unlike Resident Evil there's no limit on the inventory space, so you can hold 7 guns, multiple rounds of ammo, saving charms, 3 keys, 5 puzzle items, a flashlight, a walkie talkie, a copy of every Morton family members diary and several medkits. The game isn't hard.

It's not exactly scary either, it doesn't aim for the same terror as Resident Evil instead going for a creepy story based adventure and that's what I like about it the most, sure it's got some disturbing scenes, one I used to look away from as a kid where a pilot drowns when he gets stuck in a plane that's sinking into a swamp, but it never scared me. It's jump scares are very sparse and pretty tame and it's enemies aren't intimidating they're just obstacles. Even when it was telling tales of sacrificing virgins and you encounter blood soaked chapel altars, it's never scary. But it's atmosphere is fantastic, that much is undeniable. The area's are so detailed even if you can't interact with everything, and I've travelled the halls of the Morton Manor so many times I could draw a map from my memory alone and I still find the place haunting. The music is so unnatural with it's weird drones and distorted beats, like a lo-fi Silent Hill rendition, I've heard fans talk down the PC port of the game but I love the way the soundtrack is done on there over the Dreamcast version. The lighting is fantastic and still blows my mind today, using a torch to light up areas could have been better used but it's still really cool and adds a tonne to the atmosphere.

But then there's the story and wow, there's a lot of story, pages and pages of diary entries, notes, books on the family, letters, wills... it goes on and on and I loved reading it all, often in horror games I find reading notes to be unrewarding with so many of them being banal or irrelevant, but if you play this game don't miss the Morton Family History book in the library, that still sends chills down my spine. The plot of the game takes several twists and most of it seems kind of cliche and predictable, evil twin brothers and the whole world of light, world of darkness thing makes me cringe when it turns up in a game nowadays and here it's just sort of... whatever. It's easier to get caught up in the creepiness of the game and forget the world is supposed to be at stake.

Overall if you want a decaffeinated Resident Evil experience with more atmosphere and an arguably better story, here's Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare.

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