Alone in the Dark (video game)
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|Alone in the Dark|
Original cover art
Interplay (North America)
Pony Canyon (Japan)
Franck Manzetti (layout)
Franck De Girolami
|Artist(s)||Didier Chanfray (3D models and animation)
Yaél Barroz and Jean-Marc Torroella (2D graphics)
Didier Chanfray (concept)
|Distribution||Floppy disks (4), CD-ROM|
Alone in the Dark is a critically acclaimed 1992 survival horror action-adventure video game designed by Frédérick Raynal and developed by Infogrames. The game has spawned several sequels as part of the Alone in the Dark series (as well as two movies loosely based on the series: Alone in the Dark and Alone in the Dark II) and is considered the first 3D survival horror game.
The game was ported to the 3DO in 1994. The 3DO version is largely identical to the original, but uses an orchestrated version of the original soundtrack and adds voice acting to the character intros and documents.
Players choose between a male or female protagonist (Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood respectively), and are then trapped inside the haunted mansion of Derceto. The player character starts in the attic (the place of Jeremy's suicide), having ascended to the top of the mansion without incident, and is tasked with finding a way out of the mansion while avoiding, outsmarting or defeating various supernatural enemies including slave zombies and giant bipedal rat-like creatures. Though able to kill most enemies with simply fists and feet, the player character can also find and utilise weapons.
Many opponents can be beaten by solving a particular puzzle rather than a straight fight - indeed, a significant number of opponents cannot be killed at all. Much of the game involves exploration and puzzle-solving, and optionally searching the house for clues to what happened before the player's arrival.
The player character can search any area, open and close doors, push certain objects, and pick up some items. Items in inventory can be used, opened, read, thrown, or put down, though not all of these options are offered for every item. Inventory is highly limited, and the player must often discard items to make room. It is possible to discard items that are needed to complete the game, but discarded items remain in play and can be retrieved later, even if the player character leaves the room. Available space in inventory is determined by weight, not number of items; for example, a player may discard a book and two knives yet still not be able to pick up the heavy statuette.
Unlike its sequels, and much of the survival horror genre, the game is partially non-linear. The player character is initially restricted to the attic and third floor, whose rooms are arranged such that they must be traversed in a linear order. Completing the puzzle at the end of the third floor grants the player character access to the first and second floors. The player can explore the rooms in this area in any order, and can also revisit the attic and third floor if desired. Upon completing a specific puzzle, the player gains access to the caverns beneath the mansion. The caverns are completely linear, and each challenge must be overcome as it is encountered.
In 1924, Jeremy Hartwood, a noted artist and owner of the Louisiana mansion Derceto (named after the Syrian deity), has committed suicide by hanging himself. His death appears suspicious yet seems to surprise nobody, for Derceto is widely reputed to be haunted by an evil power. The case is quickly dealt with by the police and soon forgotten by the public. The player assumes the role of either Edward Carnby - a private investigator who is sent to find a piano in the loft for an antique dealer - or Emily Hartwood, Jeremy's niece, who is also interested in finding the piano because she believes a secret drawer in it has a note in which Jeremy explains his suicide. Whether Carnby or Hartwood, the character goes to the mansion to investigate.
Upon entering the house, the doors mysteriously slam shut behind the player character. He or she continues up to the attic, but is attacked by monsters. The player character progresses back down through the house, fighting off various creatures and hazards in the house. The player character finds documents throughout the house indicating that Derceto was built by an occultist pirate named Ezechiel Pregzt, and that beneath the house are caverns that were used for dark rituals meant to increase Pregzt's fortunes and unnaturally extend his life. Pregzt was shot and Derceto was burned down by encamped Union soldiers during the American Civil War. However, Pregzt's spirit lived on, and his corpse was placed by his servants in an old tree in the caverns underneath Derceto. Jeremy Hartwood committed suicide to prevent his body being used as a host for Pregzt; so Pregzt now focuses on the player character.
The player character finds a passage into the underground caverns in Hartwood's study, and makes his or her way to the tree where Pregzt resides. The player character hurls a lighted lantern at the tree, then flees the collapsing cavern. Pregzt is consumed by the flames.
The story is heavily influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. The setting for the story is inspired by Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher". Grimoires found in the mansion's library include the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis, both taken from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Other Mythos references include books that feature the narrated history of Lord Boleskine, a direct reference to another Infogrames Cthulhu Mythos-based game, Shadow of the Comet, and the last name of player character Edward Carnby, a reference to John Carnby, a character in the mythos tale Return of the Sorcerer by Clark Ashton Smith. Several of the supernatural opponents are recognizable creatures from the Mythos, including Deep Ones, Nightgaunts and a Chthonian.
- Edward Carnby - A down-on-his-luck but respectable private investigator (to be reinvented as a paranormal investigator later in the Alone in the Dark series) who is sent to a Louisiana mansion to find an antique piano. As soon as Edward enters the house, the doors slam shut but the persistent Edward continues his search and battles several paranormal apparitions in the process.
- Emily Hartwood - A niece of Derceto's last owner. Alternative protagonist to Carnby, she goes on to become an actress and appears in the third game.
- Jeremy Hartwood - Last owner of Derceto mansion and professional artist. Horrified by nightmares, which were in fact Pregzt's attempts to possess him, he hanged himself in the loft. Jeremy's father, Howard Hartwood, bought Derceto's ruins in 1875, rebuilt it as it had been before fire, and later unearthed and explored its underground tunnels.
- Ezechiel Pregzt - Given the nickname "Bloody Ezech", he was reportedly the bloodiest pirate in all the seven seas. Pregzt anchored his ship Astarte near New Orleans, Louisiana, and made a hideout in a swamp, but ultimately was hanged in 1620. Now, his spirit lives underneath the Derceto Mansion, waiting to live again by possessing a living, human host and unleash darkness upon the world.
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The game's working titles included In the Dark and Scream in the Dark (or Screams in the Dark). Items and characters in Alone in the Dark are three-dimensional, rendered upon a two-dimensional fixed background. Mixing polygons and 2D prerendered background images required a fixed camera angle, which designers used to their advantage to create dramatic scene setups appropriate for a horror-themed game.
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Alone in the Dark was met with great critical acclaim and has won many prestigious gaming industry awards, including the ECTS 1993 awards for, best graphics, most original game and best French game of the year, and the CES 1993 award for the best foreign game. In 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 88th best video game of all time, adding that it "showed that 3D action needn't get in the way of a tense, exciting story," also listing the game's Game Over cutscene among the 15 "best ways to die in computer gaming". In 2005, Game Informer listed as one of the top 25 most influential video games of all time. In 2009, Empire included Alone in the Dark on the list of 100 greatest video games of all time for its "ingenious approach coming closer than any game had before to photo-realism, and inspiring other developers to experiment with fresh approaches to presentation."
Alone in the Dark was supposed to be the first part of Infogrames' Call of Cthulhu series, and later of the Virtual Dreams series (the original French cover included the Virtual Dreams logo), but ended up starting its own franchise. The game was followed by four more games in the series: Alone in the Dark 2 (1993), Alone in the Dark 3 (1994), Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (2001) and Alone in the Dark (2008), and inspired two live-action films Alone in the Dark and Alone in the Dark II.
- (French) Daniel Ichbiah, La saga des jeux vidéo
- Computer Gaming World 99, page 84: "Over There: enCore! enCore!"
- Loguidice, B.; Barton, M. (2009). Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. Focal Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-240-81146-8.
- Travis Fahs, Alone in the Dark Restrospective, IGN, June 23, 2008
- The Making Of: Alone In The Dark, Edge Online, May 11, 2010
- Leigh Alexander, Inside the Making of Alone in the Dark, Gamasutra, March 9, 2012
- 3DO GAMES CROSS REVIEW: アローン・イン・ザ・ダーク. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.330. Pg.78. 14 April 1995.
- Alone in the Dark: The Official Strategy Guide, Prima Games 1994 (page 9)
- CGW 148: 150 Best Games of All Time
- CGW 148: 150 Best Ways to Die in Computer Gaming
- Game Informer 136 (October 2005)
- The 100 Greatest Games Of All Time| Alone In The Dark | Empire | www.empireonline.com
- Clara Barraza (2008-09-01). "The Evolution of the Survival Horror Genre". IGN. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
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- Brett Todd. "A Modern History of Horror Games". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-03-18.