2008 Reviews

Alone In The Dark

  • Review Date: 2013-12
  • Release Date: 2008-06
  • Developer: Eden Games
  • Rating: 4.0

Well I should have known with a score on Metacritic of 5.5 that there must be something wrong with this game, despite the screenshots and cover looking quite good. What is wrong are the controls and gameplay.

I rage-quit around the end of chapter 2 (of 8) so only 1/4 of the way through the game. But it was too much to bear. While I don't like to miss out on even the average games, AITD is a game I'm just better off never experiencing.

The design actually looks okay. Though the movement is slow so you don't actually go through much per level, the engine looks nice enough. Looking at videos on youtube of future levels it really looks quite good.

The story, well there is a story going on but I didn't get far enough to know what was going on.

But oh the gameplay. How could this possibly get past the testers? How could a company like Atari allow this to get out there? It might have been bareable on consoles with their limited buttons. On PC, it seems like every key on the keyboard is bound to something. So when I reconfigure it, of course, the nightmare begins. Most of my playtime would have been spent trying to figure out what keys the game was wanting me to press. I'd have to run my hand across the keyboard pressing everything, just to get something to work. Why on earth would they bind so many trivial things to it's own key? Here's an example: to apply health you press a key to open the health menu, then press a directional key to apply health to an area on your body. Only you can't bind this to something that makes sense, I already had my standard direction keys bound, WASD was bound to car movement, the arrowkeys to something else. So health directional keys had to be something else, some other random set of four keys that I have no chance of ever remembering. With just about every FUCKING key bound to something, you basically have to print your config off and hang it on the wall.

Next there's the bugs. The game wouldn't allow me to change resolution, it wouldn't load if I did. Another bug, the inventory often didn't load properly and would freeze, meaning restarting the level all over.

Next the movement. This one really did my head in. First-person is okay, but the game constantly puts you back into third-person view. I mean constantly, every couple of minutes. Sometimes it'll repeatedly do. Then there are many things it will only allow you to do in third-person. So what's the issue with third-person? There's no sidestep! To turn around, you have to stand still and slowly press a sidestep while your body rotates around. It makes trying to walk or run in third-person ludicrous, let alone trying to fight enemies.

Which brings me to the final issue: combat. I won't go in-depth, but trying to fight enemies with such retarded controls and movement is a joke. You have to pick up an item then attempt rotate around, hold a key to lock on to them, them swing with another key. Quite often the characters just stands there and doesn't swing. Then you have to drag them to fire, which quite simply doesn't work.

Having some black shit attack me right after throwing me into the uncontrollable third-person, dying because I don't even know what the fuck isn't going on, then being put right back to the start of the level because there's no checkpoints and manual saves don't actually work, was the last straw.

It's a shame this studio would create a semi-promising game but absolutely butcher it with such hideous gameplay and controls. A 5.5 is being generous, because this game is void of any joy playing on the PC. At least some of the other 5.5 games I've rated you could actually enjoy playing, even if hey do look years out of date.

I do think perhaps if you leave the controls as they are you might have better luck, and consoles might be better again.

Alone In The Dark