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Alone In The Dark Review: A Dim Light In The Horror Genre

  • Spooky ambience delivered
  • Star-studded performances
  • Mix of clever and challenging puzzles offers moments of genuine satisfaction
  • Clumsy combat mechanics
  • Repetitive and lackluster replay experience
  • While not game-breaking, there are plenty of technical issues

An Xbox Series X|S review code for "Alone in the Dark" was provided to Zaaz for this review. The game is available now for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

"Alone in the Dark" is a title that commands respect in the survival horror genre, setting foundations that others like "Resident Evil" and "Silent Hill" would build upon. So, when THQ Nordic announced a reboot, there was a stir in the horror community. Now, picture yourself stepping into this game without the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia — you're here for a fresh fright, a novel nightmare. But does this reimagined classic fulfill those dark desires, or does it leave you wandering in slightly annoying shadows?

Derceto Manor is your playground — or rather, your haunted house of horrors. The ambiance? Spot on. Creepy corridors, ominous whispers, and that unsettling feeling that something is always lurking just out of sight. The game does well in the dread department, especially with its clever use of lighting. The flickering lights add an extra layer of tension to the already eerie atmosphere. As you navigate the manor's mysteries, the game oscillates between eerie exploration and solving puzzles that range from satisfyingly cerebral to "pulling your hair out" frustrating.

Combat, however, is where your unease and dread (and frustration) might stem from mechanics rather than the horrors lurking in the dark. Whether you're gunning down ghouls or swinging at skittering creatures, there's an awkwardness, a clunkiness, that makes each encounter more eye-roll-inducing than edge-of-your-seat. It seems like every bullet grudgingly leaves your gun, and melee weapons feel as effective as swatting flies with a pool noodle.

A Tale of Two Detectives

Here's where things get interesting — or so you'd hope. Choosing between Emily Hartwood and Edward Carnby promises different perspectives on the manor's madness. In reality, though, it's more like choosing between vanilla and French vanilla — similar flavors, with only a hint of difference. The narrative, penned by the talented Mikael Hedberg (known for his work on "Amnesia: The Dark Descent" and "Soma"), aims for profound and has its moments, but often hits a weird tone of pretentiousness, leaving you longing for more substance behind the stylish spookiness.

"Alone in the Dark" teases the allure of secrets unlocked only through multiple playthroughs. However, the reality is a bit like déjà vu — you've seen it all before, just in slightly different lighting. The game attempts to bait you back with collectibles and alternative endings, but if the core experience left you wanting, a second helping might feel more like punishment than reward.

Yet, there's an undeniable charm in the voice acting. Jodie Comer and David Harbour lend their talents, providing a glimmer of Hollywood in the gloomy darkness. They bring depth to characters that otherwise, arguably, could have easily faded into the background, even if the script doesn't always give them the richest material to work with.

A Feast for the Eyes, A Famine for the Ears

As eluded to earlier, visually, the game can be stunning. Derceto Manor is a character in its own right, with each room telling tales of decadence and decay. But while the main characters shine in detailed glory, other NPCs and environments can feel underbaked and not as impactful as one would expect from a horror game.

The sound design also deserves a nod, when it works. The "doom jazz" (or "dark jazz") soundtrack adds an unexpected, but very fitting, layer to the atmosphere. However, prepare for the occasional dissonance when audio bugs and delays to disrupt the immersion, turning would-be jump scares into moments of confusion.

On that note of technical gremlins ... no horror game is complete without them, right? From bizarre audio delays to characters getting intimately acquainted with invisible barriers, these bugs are like the unwanted guests who manage to elbow their way in at a séance. They're not game-breaking, but they're certainly enough to pull you out of the moment, reminding you that this nightmare is, after all, just a game. And that's a shame, considering some of the best games in the horror genre are the ones that linger with you long after you've walked away from playing.

Once Is Never Enough ... Or Is It?

So, where does this leave us? With all its build-ups and all of its delays, "Alone in the Dark" ultimately comes away as a game of contradictions. It's atmospheric yet awkward, intriguing yet inconsistent. As a newcomer to the series, you might find moments of genuine enjoyment and terror, but they're nestled within layers of frustration and missed potential.

This is a game that reaches for the stars — or, more aptly, the dark recesses of the moon — but finds itself tangled in the branches of its own lofty ambitions (which, to be fair, should have been high). For every step forward in narrative and ambiance, there's a bit of a stumble in mechanics and replayability.

With a final score of 6 out of 10, "Alone in the Dark" is not the revival the series deserved, but it's not a complete descent into madness either. It's a middle-of-the-road experience that might entertain, and might frustrate, but will undoubtedly leave you thinking about what could have been. So, if you're seeking a journey into horror that's as mixed as a bag of Halloween candy, step into Derceto Manor. Just don't expect all treats and no tricks.