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Alone in the Dark Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

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Alone in the Dark Review

Survival horror fans have had mega-hit franchises like Resident Evil, Dead Space, and even Silent Hill keep them busy these past few years. But now, there’s a new survival horror in town. Funny enough, it's the same franchise that lit the survival horror match way back in 1992. Yes, we’re talking about Alone in the Dark, the OG that made Resident Evil possible. Or, at least, had a hand in the intertwining of exploration, puzzle elements, and survival horror action bits here and there. 

If you followed the franchise closely, you’d know it’s had a bit of a rough patch since 1992. The team has tried to resurrect the franchise, but the results have been futile. Remember the 2008 Alone in the Dark reboot? It didn’t quite sit well with fans, which begs the question of whether reimagining the 1992 classic is a wise choice. Alone in the Dark (2024) is a brand new adaptation of the ‘90s horror, complete with revamped visuals, new characters, and storylines. It ditches the fixed camera angle for a well-appreciated third-person “over-the-shoulder” perspective, among other quality-of-life changes. 

It’s definitely following in the footsteps of the Resident Evil remakes and modern survival horror, even adapting the increasingly popular eerie Lovecraftian atmospheric vibe. That and debatable janky controls, which worked surprisingly well for Resident Evil, among others. You almost want to feel like you're grasping at straws during dire enemy encounters. But do all these attempts to resurrect the Alone in the Dark franchise stick? Just how worthwhile is playing the game? Read till the end of our Alone in the Dark review to find out.

Return to Form

Emily and Edward Alone in the Dark Review

Protagonists Emily Hartwood (Jodie Comer) and private investigator Edward Carnby (David Harbour) take charge in Alone in the Dark (2024). They return to the ‘90s Derceto Manor. Now, the place is a psychiatric hospital of sorts that housed Jeremy Hartwood, Emily’s uncle, until his mysterious disappearance. Emily has then hired Edward to help investigate the case and find his missing uncle. So, they both drive down to the creepy mansion and get down to business, gathering clues and evidence to solve the missing person's case.

Despite Derceto Manor sharing the same name as the mansion in the ‘90s classic, it’s evidently been reimagined to great depth and wild imagination. The manor houses several stories and overwhelming rooms, all laid out in a maze-like manner. Your job is to, of course, wind in and out of these rooms. You scan the oppressive and evil surroundings of every room for clues. All along, a palpable sense of dread hangs loose in the air as you completely lunge deeper into the crevices of the manor. 

Alone in the Dark is an all-around classic horror experience featuring story, puzzle elements, exploration and combat. It lets you choose between Edward and Emily, trudging forth two campaigns through the lens of either protagonist. It’s a nice touch to encourage replayability, but first, how worthwhile is the story to justify a second run-through? Uhm, you probably have recognized the star-studded cast: Edward Carnby (played by David Harbour of Stranger Things) and Emily Hartwood (played by Jodie Comer of Killing Eve). Yet even with such super-talented leads, the story falls flat in comparison to the brain-bending Alan Wake 2

On High Alert

puzzle clue

You’ll gather clues, piecing together the mysteries at the manor, alongside witness statements from the residents at the mansion. True, each NPC intrigues in their own way, donning striking accents and quirky personalities. The deeper you sink into the story, the more complex the mysteries become, quickly spanning from the real to the paranormal. Yet, something feels off. It’s not as gripping as you expect it to be. You untangle a few twists and turns. However, the story doesn't seem to follow any build-up, so much so that interactions with NPCs feel randomly placed. 

The same goes for the puzzles and clues, which you expect to push the story forward but serve more as ‘hey, did you know?’ segments. I’m not saying the story is an absolute disaster, far from it. Derceto Manor is definitely a freaky place, with captivating events within its walls. The delivery and writing are missed opportunities, though. I mean, having a star-studded cast doesn’t seem to count, with the annoying thought that any talented actor could have pulled off the script in their place. 

But what’s lacking in the story is largely compensated by the glorious manor embellishments. Everything, from the environments, characters, and locations, looks stunning for a reimagining of a ‘90s game. Each room and decor are incredibly detailed, whether during the day or night. From the fog to the misty air, trudging through it sends chills down the spine. You never know what’ll jump out of the shadows, especially in the seamless shift between the normal mansion space and a mysterious alternate reality. 

Job Well Done

Edward shooting zoombies


The visuals and graphics in Alone in the Dark are definitely the game’s strongest points. Intense thought processing must have gone into designing every item and world detail. Ambience. Rustic wood. Each detail of the Southern Gothic aesthetic is a job well done. Even going outside the manor, from the World War trenches, bayou cemetery, and old farm fields, is meticulously presented, inducing just the right amount of timelessness. It’s sad the story doesn't fully maximize the environment’s full potential. You’d hope plotlines tie in with the tiny details you see, for instance, but if wishes were horses…

If you’re wondering why the visuals are the best part of Alone in the Dark and not the gameplay, well, the puzzle sections do keep you engaged, not so much the combat, but more on that in a few. Puzzles really do spark your brain. Some are simple enough to cruise by, while others really push you to explore. And, well, more exploration is a reward in itself to comb through every nook and cranny of the spectacular manor space. As for the combat, you primarily engage in melee and ranged combat. For melee, you pick up all manner of axes, pipes, sledgehammers, and even spades and basically bash enemies’ heads in over and over till they die. 

Missed Opportunity

edward and batise

Unfortunately, melee feels aimless, with mindless bashing often getting you out of tight spots. It’s nice to save bullets, though. On the ranged combat front, you can switch between three weapons: a Tommy gun, a shotgun, and a pistol. The pistol works best for smaller enemies, while the shotgun works best on larger enemies. Either way, though, all three weapons work and feel the same. Fire a shot at the head, and the enemy comes tumbling down just as quickly. 

Perhaps it’s the lack of variety in enemies, too, with hardly any inspiration injected into their design. Honestly, combat is a drag, so much so that you can’t wait to get back to the explorative and puzzle-solving bits of the game. Oh, you also pick up bricks, bottles and Molotov cocktails in the environment to throw at enemies as projectiles or use them as distractions. However, you can’t equip them in your inventory.

While at it, the fact that you can replay the story as Edward or Emily is also a missed opportunity to coin varying experiences. Generally, Edward's and Emily’s routes are the same. Their storylines are mostly the same, except for different dialogue, thanks to the NPCs' different attitudes towards them. They do run into each other, yet they hardly evoke the shock or emotive feeling you expect them to, as Edward starts to show signs of losing his mind, for instance. The only significant difference in experience is that their independent pasts influence unique alternate realities. Still, completionists will probably have a better incentive to redo the story.


woman holding a knife towards Edwad in Alone in the Dark Review

A lot more can be said about Alone in the Dark. Survival horror aficionados will jump at the chance to re-experience one of the OGs that influenced mega-hits like Resident Evil. However, with the ups and downs the franchise has been having over the years, I guess it’s good progress that Alone in the Dark manages to be a ‘just fine’ experience. It is a wildly unsettling experience that grows more profound with time. Reality intertwines with the paranormal to a chilling effect. Plus, the atmospheric setting helps to ‘not dislike’ the sometimes mediocre character performance, weak writing, and generally disappointing plot. 

Furthermore, the lifeless combat further thrashes your expectations. Enemies, besides being too easy to kill, lack inspiration in design and variety. They’re hardly scary, too, unless you are scared easily. Spotting yet another enemy around the corner doesn’t inspire the same fright and flight we’ve come to expect from survival horrors. The ‘survival’ part of the gameplay is missing and wounds up, bringing the entire experience down. 

Still, it’s a commendable reimagining attempt. With only one way but up, at least we can hold on to the hope that future Alone in the Dark iterations will improve on the weaker gameplay sections. Maybe then, all the gameplay fragments will sync better to elevate it to the level we know the series is capable of.

Alone in the Dark Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)

Third Time’s the Charm

We owe a lot to Alone in the Dark (1992), particularly for inspiring the mega-hit survival horrors we know of today. As such, giving respect where it’s due, Alone in the Dark (2024) deserves consideration, particularly for those looking to evoke nostalgia. While considering playing the game, keep in mind that some gameplay elements miss the mark. Combat can feel lifeless. Meanwhile, the story may not be as mind-bending as Alan Wake 2. It’s a solid reimaging attempt, though.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.