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)
|Media/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 a film loosely based on the series) and is considered the first 3D survival horror game.
Players are given the option of choosing between a male or female protagonist (Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood respectively), and are then trapped inside the haunted mansion of Derceto after dark. The player character starts in the attic (the place of Jeremy's suicide by hanging), having ascended to the top of the mansion without incident, and is then tasked with exploring the mansion in order to find a way out while avoiding, outsmarting or defeating various supernatural enemies including slave zombies, giant bipedal rat-like creatures, and other even more bizarre foes. Though starting with no weapons except fists and feet, the player character can find and utilise weapons.
However, combat only plays a partial role in the gameplay. For example, the total number of slave zombies throughout the entire game is only about a dozen, and many opponents can be beaten by solving a particular puzzle rather than a straight fight - indeed, a significant number of opponents cannot be killed. Much of the game involves exploration and puzzle-solving, and searching the house for clues to advance the story and learn more about what happened before the player's arrival. Unlike its sequels, and much of the survival horror genre, the game is quite non-linear and many areas of the house may be explored in any order, and revisited, from the outset.
In 1924, Jeremy Hartwood, a noted artist and the 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. The player, either as Carnby or Hartwood, goes to the mansion to investigate.
As the player enters the house, the doors mysteriously slam shut behind him or her. Reluctantly, he or she continues up to the attic. In that room, the action begins. Seconds after the game allows the player to take control of their character, monsters will make their first attack. The player must then progress back down through the house, fighting off various creatures and other hazards in the house, including a whole staff of staggering zombies and various monsters (not all of which can be killed), booby-traps and arcane books, in order to solve the mystery of Derceto and find a way out.
It is eventually explained through documents found throughout the game that the house was built by an occultist pirate named Ezechiel Pregzt, and beneath the house are caverns that were used for dark rituals and other occult doings. The overall goal of these rituals was to increase his fortunes and unnaturally extend his life. Pregzt's original body was incapacitated after he was shot and Derceto was burned down by encamped Union soldiers during the American Civil War. However, Pregzt's spirit lived on within his dried-up corpse, and had been placed by his servants in an old tree in the caverns underneath Derceto (which is, as Pregzt explains in one of many books lying around the house, an alternate name for Astarte or Shub-Niggurath). It would be possible for him to regenerate himself, though that requires a living body. Jeremy Hartwood committed suicide to prevent being used for this purpose; so Pregzt now focuses his energies on the player.
The story is revealed to the player through an extensive series of books and notes found throughout the game, and 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.
|Famitsu||33 out of 40 (3DO)|
|This section requires expansion. (January 2012)|
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.
- Jim Sterling (2008-12-08). "How survival horror evolved itself into extinction". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- Brett Todd. "A Modern History of Horror Games". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-03-18.