Alone in the Dark PC Review

I do not have any connection to the original Alone in the Dark trilogy. It may seem strange for someone who enjoys horror games, but I missed out on that era as I did not acquire a PC until 1998. My first encounter with the darkness was through Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare on the Sega Dreamcast. This title served as a reboot for the series, evoking the feel of Capcom’s Resident Evil classics, even though the original trilogy inspired Capcom’s venture into the survival horror genre. I also tried Alone in the Dark (2008)…which did not quite measure up to The New Nightmare, and I will leave it at that. This led to a period of inactivity for the series, with a third-person shooter game released in 2015 designed for cooperative play. It has been 16 years since the last Alone in the Dark game focused on single-player horror. Now, it is up to Pieces Interactive to showcase their vision for a new entry.

The new experience introduces similarities with the original Alone in the Dark story from 1992. Unlike a conventional remake like Dead Space or Resident Evil 2, this is more of a reimagining aimed at appealing to both new players and existing fans. The game incorporates elements from Infogrames’ original, including the main characters Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood, now portrayed by Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and David Harbour (Stranger Things). These characters assume the same roles as in the 1992 game, serving as playable characters from the outset. Edward is a private investigator, while Emily is on a quest to find her missing uncle, Jeremy. Instead of the suicide theme, Mr. Hartwood has disappeared this time, prompting Emily’s search. The iconic mansion, Derceto, has been reimagined as Derceto Manor, a pivotal location in the game catering to the mentally fatigued.


From the outset, players must select either Emily or Edward to kick off into the madness that is Derceto Manor. Throughout approximately 75% of the game, the experiences of both characters are quite similar, with minor differences in their interactions with the manor’s inhabitants. It was somewhat disappointing that the game did not offer more significant variations between the two characters, unlike Resident Evil, which provided distinct puzzles and weapons for each character. Nonetheless, the final segment before the climactic showdown does introduce some divergence by exploring a past historical event of either Emily or Edward, adding depth to their characters. This aspect makes a second playthrough worthwhile. Alone in the Dark is relatively short, taking about seven hours to complete, and even quicker on subsequent playthroughs due to familiarity with solutions and item locations.

Similar to the Spencer Mansion in Resident Evil, Derceto Manor assumes a significant role in this game. It boasts a substantial structure with multiple floors and an abundance of rooms, often requiring unlocking in some form or another. The occasional inhabitant encountered by the player adds depth to the storyline through cutscenes, often leaving an air of suspicion. Trust is a scarce commodity within Derceto, mirroring the untrustworthy nature of the building itself. For the majority of the game, Alone in the Dark offers two distinct gameplay elements: puzzles and action.


The puzzle elements are situated within the confines of Derceto and encompass elements such as locked doors, sliding blocks, and deciphering messages. These puzzles have been featured in many similar games before. One thing to note is that there are options for clues within the settings. Modern settings will eventually push hints on the screen to direct the player into finding or solving the situation, while Old School is traditional mid-90s horror, where the player is on their own to find the clues to come up with the solution. This can be toggled at any time, which is nice if the player is stuck and feels they need a helping hand to continue in the game. In honesty, most puzzles are quite solvable without much problem. Players need to remember that the clues are either within the journals found within the environment or on walls close to where the puzzle needs solving. They won’t require a high IQ, which thankfully is good for me, as I am not the biggest puzzle fan, but these felt like the standard for horror video game puzzles.

Initially, the action begins to unfold when the main characters stumble upon a mysterious talisman that unlocks the game’s environmental creativity. This talisman transports the protagonist into what appears to be Jeremy’s dreams and memories. Consequently, they escape from the manor, providing a respite from the puzzle-filled setting as monsters invade the dream world. Notable locations within this realm include a shipping dock, a wrecked boat in a jungle, a desert, and a snowy mountain. I liked this split, since after experiencing combat with the monsters, it felt like the game was giving a breathing space when reappearing back within Derceto Manor. As the story progresses, the line between dreams and reality blurs, blending these two worlds and intertwining action and puzzles within the manor, intensifying the madness. Although it doesn’t reach the heights of games like Remedy’s Control or Alan Wake, there is enough intrigue to captivate players until the end.


However, the combat aspect of Alone in the Dark can be quite bothersome, more aggravating than anything else. There are some strange design choices that I am not wholly happy with. In terms of weaponry, there is a pistol, shotgun, machine gun, and flare gun. Fortunately, there is no need to be concerned with inventory management, as healing items (up to five at a time), guns, and ammunition do not require any attention. Each gun can carry a maximum amount of ammo, but there is no need to juggle items in an inventory since all other objects are stored in the key item area.

Melee weapons are scattered throughout the environment and have limited use as they break after a few enemy hits. Despite the small selection of melee weapons available, they all share a similar animation – a stiff swing that feels copied for each melee weapon. Heavier weapons, like the sledgehammer, do seem to deal more damage compared to a simple piece of wood, but the differences between close combat weapons are minimal. Each melee weapon features both light and heavy animations that can stun enemies until they die or the weapon shatters. While effective against individual foes, using melee weapons becomes challenging when facing a group of enemies because of the robotic attack motions.


There are throwable objects available in the game, but the mechanics behind them are rather impractical. Instead of allowing players to pick them up and save them for later use, the moment a player interacts with a throwable item, such as a brick or Molotov cocktail, their character enters a throwing state and can only move slowly while aiming. Once the trigger is released, the player automatically throws the object. The game includes numerous throwable items scattered throughout its areas, indicating that this design choice was intentional on the part of the developers. I fail to understand why players are not given the option to simply carry a few of these items, like healing items, to use at will instead of being compelled to use them immediately upon picking them up. As a result, I only interacted these items when I was near them and felt threatened by the number of enemies ahead.

One issue that stands out to me is how enemies can corner the player, hindering movement during combat. Although I can tolerate the clunky combat animation, the collision between the player and enemies is an issue. For example, being trapped by enemies in a confined space led to frustrating encounters where I was unable to defend myself effectively. I feel that if the player is hit, they should be able to pass through the enemy model or at least offer the player some way to push enemies so that these types of scenarios do not happen as it is unbelievably frustrating to not be able to defend against encounters like the above. Thankfully, one thing the game is very good at is how it saves, meaning that the player never loses much progression when dying. On the other side of that scale, enemies can also get stuck, leaving them prey to free hits. In this area, Alone in the Dark’s combat comes across as weaker than the adventure-puzzle elements of the game, which is a shame.


The presentation of Alone in the Dark is a bit inconsistent. On one hand, the game looks great, with excellent use of light and shadow to create an atmospheric feel in Derceto and its dream worlds. The character models are also well-designed, although their animation could be smoother. The voice work for the characters is pleasant, but it took me some time to fully appreciate it. Initially, it felt slightly off, as if the actors weren’t fully committed to their roles. However, as the game progressed and I heard more of their dialogue, this feeling faded away. I believe this is due to the game’s 1930s setting and how the actors adapted their dialogue to fit this period. The soundtrack adds to the overall atmosphere of mystery within Derceto Manor, and the game’s setting and tone were never a concern in this reimagined version of Alone in the Dark.

PC performance initially had problems. The notorious shader cache issue, which affects certain Unreal Engine titles, caused stuttering during the game’s loading process between different areas. However, the developers eventually addressed this problem by introducing an option to enable shader precaching. This allowed the shaders to be built before entering the game, resulting in a significant improvement in the overall experience. Occasional stutters still occurred, but they became much less frequent, suggesting that they might be caused by other factors. I commend the developers for incorporating this feature. However, considering the frequency of this problem in Unreal Engine, I find it puzzling why developers do not include this option right from the initial release of a game, I do not understand why developers are not putting this option in from the get-go of a game’s release, especially when a game such as Alone in the Dark has a lot of transitions when it performs its cool looking blend from the manor into the dream world so naturally.


Alone in the Dark is a game that gets 60% right, and the rest is a mixture of poor or frustrating gameplay mechanics. The story is interesting and takes the player to some fascinating places as its focus on the mind and dream world become heavier the further the story progresses; a plot that feels more psychological horror than the typical survival horror game experience. The reinvented Derceto Manor is itself filled with mystery and locked doors, like any good horror building, it has a history and character that makes what could easily be a boring living space into a fun place to explore and pull back the curtains on its lore and solve its puzzles. Anything that is not combat comes across as done well, but moving into that area is where Alone in the Dark feels unaccomplished. Combat should be tense and involving, but here it frustrates with clunky animations and poor collisions that pull the player out of what should be a fearful encounter. It feels like a game that puts its focus on everything else but the combat, but if that is the case then the developers maybe should have created something similar to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories rather than employing awkward and average combat encounters that spoil the rest of the good elements Alone in the Dark has going for it.

6 out of 10