Xbox Series X

Published on March 20th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Alone in the Dark Review (2024)

Alone in the Dark Review (2024) Gareth Newnham

Summary: Jodie Comer and David Harbour delight in this devilishly dark reboot of a survival horror classic.


Fear of the Dark

Alone in the Dark is a superb survival horror game that successfully blends old-school design sensibilities with modern genre trappings hamstrung by technical issues.

Essentially a retelling of the first Alone in the Dark from 1992, Pieces Interactive’s latest reboot of the granddaddy of the survival horror genre is the best game the series has seen in decades.


The latest take on the Lovecraftian franchise stars David Harbour as Edward Carnby and Jodie Comer as Emily Hartwood. I usually am the first to roll my eyes when any talent is brought in to fill major roles before it. Much like Death Stranding before it, both of the game’s leads do a fantastic job of bringing these new takes of some classic characters to life.

Yes, Carnby’s character has changed from a more Proitesque detective to a hard-nosed PI, but Harbour’s physicality and natural gruffness really sell this new version of the classic character and fit with the game’s pre-Prohibition era setting perfectly.

Comer meanwhile does a suburb job as Hartwood, bringing forthrightness to the role, while she battles against not only the monsters inhabiting the hospital but the rampant misogyny and societal bs of being a woman in the 1930s. She’s strong, she’s intelligent, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, she rocks.

Alone in The Dark opens with Carnby and Hartwood traveling to Derceto Manor in Lousianna to check on her uncle Jeremy, a talented artist who is receiving psychiatric treatment at the home after he sends Emily a worrying letter telling her that he’s in danger and that an otherworldly spectre known as the Dark Man is after him.

On arrival, the pair are introduced to the other patients and orderlies at the hospital, but it’s clear that something sinister is lurking just under the surface at the countryside convalescent house, and Jeremy is missing.

Thus it’s up to Carnby and Hartwood to find Jeremy, unravel the mysteries of Derceto Manor, and confront the sinister ancient forces that lurk there.

I could tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin it. But I will tell you it is a satisfying, slow burn with decent characterisation, and it takes a bloody turn and a half.

It’s fun to see the series that once inspired Resident Evil has now inspired Alone in the Dark, it’s tank controls and fixed camera (mostly) replaced with the over-the-shoulder action and UI of modern Resident Evil, although the combat feels a lot more Alan Wake than RE, with each character fighting with loud, slow weapons that take a while to aim, and like Wake Alone in the Dark has a dedicated duck button to avoid harm.

There’s even a little Silent Hill tossed in for good measure with a variety of melee weapons, from hatchets and pick axes to burned debris and even a crucifix that can be wielded to push back the manifestations that plague the former plantation.

On the whole, fighting against the eldritch horrors that stalk the shadows of Derceto Manor is a desperate affair. Especially when the game throws more than a couple of enemies at a time, it’s best to make a break for it rather than hang around and get lunged at or smacked about by the wild swings of the shapeless monstrosities, skeletal forms, and bizarre insects that are mostly there to get in the way.

Usually, making a hasty retreat is the right move, especially if you can get your hands on some of the environmental weapons that litter every area where there is inevitably going to be a fight. Finding a brick or, if you’re really lucky, a bottle of brandy or Molotov can get you out of a pinch. Alternatively, you can sneak past. None of the monsters are particularly clever, but once they catch your scent, all hell breaks loose.

The combat may be functional and fun (especially when you finally get your hands on a machine gun), but the best part of Alone in The Dark is its puzzles.

Yes, this reboot is very much about putting the adventure back in an action-adventure game. Throughout the mansion and beyond, the game is littered with some seriously fiendish puzzles, the kind you have actually to think about. You know, the kind, the ones that actually make you go slightly mad as you can’t quite figure out the solution, but you know it’s there if only you just read the clues one more time. They’re not impossible, far from it, but they are devious and require you to pay attention to the documents in your inventory and the world around you in a way that most modern horror games no longer bother with. Its not just find the key or place the statue. (although there’s plenty of that too)

There’s one safe you need to crack that sent my thinking to hell and back, i felt like for every 4 steps I took, I ended up taking 5 back, then ending up right back at the beginning again, at step 4. (Cough, cough). Despite the mild frustration, I loved every moment of them.

The presentation is, for the most part, pretty decent. The mansion is sprawling and oppressive, the cast and creatures work with the themes of the story, and the villain, when they finally show up, is sinister and unnerving in just the right way.

This is accompanied by an absolutely superb Doom Jazz score that squeals and rattles with discordant saxophone and drum beats, creating an oppressive tone that cuts right through you and keeps you on edge.

However, the lighting is either not great in many places or broken, and I can’t figure out which one it is. One moment, a scene is expertly lit and looks absolutely stunning, then you’ll wander into another corridor in the mansion, and it’ll be flatter than the original Alone in the Dark.

Either the flat lighting in the mansion is there to relieve tension and create a stark juxtaposition for when the horror kicks in that doesn’t really work, or the global illumination just isn’t working as it should ( on Series X, at least). Hopefully, it is just busted and can be fixed in a patch because if it is an artistic decision, it’s one that should be reconsidered.

Final Thoughts

Alone in the Dark is the best game in the series in decades. After several failed attempts at a reboot and one awful cash grab, Pieces Interactive’s take on the venerable survival horror successfully fuses old and new design philosophies, respecting Frédérick Raynal’s original vision while adding plenty of fresh ideas of its own.

It’s not without its issues, but if you’re looking for a game that actually knows the definition of Lovecraftian, a slow burn that is more chilling, the more you think about it. You might want to spend some time Alone in the Dark.

About the Author'

Back to Top ↑