Alone in the Dark Preview (Xbox360)

Nobody really watches TV any more. Well, gamers certainly don’t. Being more technologically minded, most of us are au fait with DVD boxsets, or downloading TV shows using bittorrent so we can watch them at our leisure. Over the last ten years or so, we’ve all become rather more busy and impatient people than we used to be, and the media we consume are having to gear themselves more towards our convenience if they’re to be successful.

What’s this got to do with Alone in the Dark? We’ll tell you in a minute. First up, what’s the game about?

You play as paranormal investigator Edward Carnby, who finds himself waking up in modern-day New York. He’s lost several decades, and yet doesn’t appear to have aged a single day. Details on the game’s plot are still somewhat thin on the ground (not that we’d want to spoil it for you anyway), but it goes without saying that everything goes to hell in the game’s opening sequences, with paranormal creatures all over the place and buildings collapsing left, right and centre. Edward is then charged with the task of finding out what the buggery is going on, and putting an end to it.

What follows is a first- and third-person action/adventure game, with an emphasis on having to come up with ways to kill your enemies using everyday objects, rather than always relying on more obvious weaponry like guns or knives. Such weapons do feature in the game, but as the game’s enemies are mostly vulnerable to fire, you’ll be spending most of your time combining items like a bottle of lighter fluid, a box of matches and some sticky tape in order to progress. It remains to be seen quite how open-ended the system feels when subjected to a bit of active play experimentation, but judging by what we’ve seen, we reckon we’ll be spending quite a while just wandering around Central Park (the game’s main area) figuring out fun new ways of torching our enemies. Part of the demonstration we were given involved the player aggravating a group of enemies, puncturing a nearby car’s petrol tank, getting in the car and driving a distance away, then getting out and setting fire to the trail of petrol, thus igniting the pursuing enemies. Emergent gameplay aside, what we’ve seen of the game also showed a knack for ridiculously epic set-pieces that are clearly far too cool for a game that has its roots in the survival horror genre.

Still, what about the TV/DVD thing? Well, it is important because it’s a phenomenon that the team behind Alone in the Dark have based the structure of the game around. Rather than being like a TV show, where you have to sit through the game’s events in a pre-set order, Alone in the Dark behaves more like a DVD – you can, at any point, skip forwards or backwards through the game, albeit with a few obvious limitations. You can’t, for example, skip right to the end of the game straight away. But the idea is that players needn’t be frustrated if they find a part of the game that they’re unable to get through – instead of getting wound-up at their inability to progress, they can just skip the current section and come back to it later. Conversely, if you rushed a certain section and feel that there were certain details you missed, you can go back and check it out again.

What this means for the flow of the story, and whether or not it will even make sense if the player jumps back and forth too much, remains to be seen. But it’s an interesting idea nonetheless, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it works out when the game is released this coming Friday.

Check back soon for our full review.

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By ScythSoulces (SI Core) on Sep 11, 2008
I'v played this game and its ok but the story could be a little beter.
By angelsreeper (SI Newbie) on Nov 05, 2008
I love the game !
its just awesome