Review by CrossWiber
Reviewed: 08/29/02 | Updated: 08/29/02
"Ambient Survival Horror" That is what this game was coined as.
Wow, where to start? I originally picked this game up for my old 486 at the local BEST department store quite a long time ago. It was getting rave reviews, so much as to be game of the year in most magazines. The game brought something new to the table, in fact a whole new genre. It lived up to the hype.
Alone in the Dark is a game made by french company Infogrames Inc. It is played in a style most games would recognize as ''Resident Evil-style'' Of course, there was no resident evil back then, so they coined the gameplay as ''Ambient Survival Horror''.
Story: Wow, deep stuff for a game like this. No rabid zombies running around because rats had a virus or other blasphemy like that. AITD pulls it's story from the mythos of the ''Others''. An HP Lovecraft tale. It takes place as either Edward Carnby (No, not Keanu Reeves from the fourth game, the fat guy with the mustache!) or Emily Hartwood. The game plays identical really with both characters. They both want to get the hell out of Derceto (Cool name eh?) Mansion.
Up to this time, the only decent ''True 3d'' game had been The Terminator by Bethesda Softworks, which all used monochrome polygons. No such thing as texture mapping back then. In alone in the dark though, if you do look hard enough, there is a SMALL bit of texturing, such as on the doors. It may be poor, but it IS there. Anyways, at the time, the look and fluidity of the graphics were honestly something to write home about, they made the game lifelike.
The pre-rendered backgrounds also were done in meticulous order, my only gripe is that sometimes the backgrounds didnt fit, like in the first room, if you walk towards the bookshelf, suddenly the camera switches to another wall somewhere else in the room. Other than that, it's fantastic.
Gameplay: Phenomenal and lacking at the same time.
Lets get with the bad first. Running is a b**ch! It is almost impossible to do that double-tap correctly. The only way I am able to do it is to hold in any other button and try to double-tap over and over. If you can't handle it though, that problem was fixed in the excellent 3do version.
Now with the good. Anyone familiar to resident evil will obviously recognize the controls. They are easy to learn, and easy to use once you get the hang of it. There is a great inventory and action system lacking in every other Survival Horror game though: You can *GASP* fight if you are unarmed!!! (Kicking the snot out of ghouls = win!). You can open/close and push things like any other Survival Horror game too. The kicker is that you can carry an endless amount of supplies in your inventory, and you can save anywhere! A neat innovation also was the fact you could prevent almost all enemy encounters by pushing a cabinet over a window so hellhounds cannot jump in, or simply closing a door behind you (Although, some ghouls will open the door and just waltz right in on you).
Atmosphere: Exceptional, yet again.
I always have this one scene stuck in my head. It's the room where you walk in, and the zombies (or ghouls, actually) are all sitting down slumped over in chairs around a large dining room table with all the furniture covered in sheets, and after the door closes, the creepy music starts up. Then a ghoul wakes up, and after you kill it, one by one the others slowly raise from their chairs and come to take you away. It's got so much atmosphere you could cut through it with a knife. (Although the one-eyed jack scene kinda killed it at the time) The atmosphere was like nothing seen before.
Music and Sound: Great, if you had the original MONO Sound blaster.
Nowadays, if you attempt to play the sound on a stereo sound card, or even yet a sound card with decent midibanks, the music and sound will be horrid. But for those of us who had either the Sound Blaster or Sound Blaster Pro (OLD) it was excellent. The music was purposefully creepy, and changed to a more rapid ''scary'' music whenever a monster would appear. The sound was also very good, honestly, when it comes to zombie sounds Resident Evil can eat it's heart out. The ghouls were something that cannot be topped. The sound also changed as the floor type you were walking on. The ''thump thump'' of the carpet to the ''pitter patter'' of walking on the wood floors. Something yet to be perfected on by any Survival Horror Game.
Overall: 9/10, as no game is perfect.
Gripe Time For Me !
Alright, I am sick of everyone thinking ''Survival Horror'' (The game type and the phrase'') started with Resident Evil. It started with Alone in the Dark as ''Ambient Survival Horror'', or even if you want to go back the ''Horror'' thing was done with Sweet Home, but in no way besides graphics was Resident Evil ANYTHING new. Lets look at a few things Resident Evil blatantly copied from Alone In The Dark, and even a few inferiorities.
1) Things copied: Hellhounds, Zombies, Scare Scenes, the Engine, the Mansion, the list goes on.
Really, for such a ''Revolutionary'' game, Resident Evil sure seems to be quite a lot like AITD. It even has some major downfalls to AITD, mainly being: 1) You can use just about any item as a weapon, chuck it at the enemy! 2) If you happen to be unarmed, you can still fight like a man, using your fists and feet to down any foe. 3) You can save anywhere! and 4) Unlimited Inventory space!
And to say Resident Evil perfected AITD, thats a longshot watson...
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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