Over a week ago, Atari announced that they’re releasing a new entry in the Alone In The Dark series under the title “Alone In The Dark: Illumination”. Yesterday, Atari updated the Alone In The Dark website to include information and a teaser concerning the new AITD game. With each little section shown on the site, I, the author of this article, will give my opinions on this information.
“Do you have what it takes to be Alone in the Dark?”
“Inspired by the ‘Father of the Survival Horror Genre’ classic from Atari and H.P. Lovecraft, Alone in the Dark reinvents the series’ game style into a terrifying, new survival-action horror experience.”
As was noted in the previous article concerning this game, Alone In The Dark was the original series that did popularize the term “survival-horror”. As for the “reinvention” of the gameplay experience, this is where it could all go downhill. Granted it is just a brief summary of what is to be expected in the game, but when I hear the words “survival-action horror experience”, the first thing to pop into my head is the film Deep Rising starring Treat Williams. While the film was entertaining, it wasn’t actually scary, and, as the back of the box stated, the film is pretty much “Die Hard meets Alien meets Titanic”.
I have watched through this trailer twice, first time at normal speed and second time at quarter speed, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Though this is just a teaser, and as Dead Island 1 taught us that teasers can be very deceiving, it is still the only footage that we have concerning how the game will play.
While entire trailer is from the first-person perspective, which would indicate that the game will also be played in first-person , it is unknown if the game will be just from the first-person perspective but devoid of weapons (similar to games like Amnesia and Slender) or if the game will be a first-person shooter (similar to games like F.E.A.R., ZombiU, and Dementium). Given how this game is supposed to be a “survival-action horror experience”, it is logical to conclude that the game will be an FPS, which can work since games like Bioshock, ZombiU, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and Doom 3 are all FPS games and they were still able to scare the bejesus out of players.
As for the environment within the teaser, it looks like a mine shaft which could conclude that the town has a very old history. But, at the same time, the town doesn’t look too old because of the support beams being made of metal, the inclusion of what looks to be a gas pipe, and that there doesn’t seem to be an indication of any of the shafts caving in.
As for the spooks viewable in the teaser, there is definitely the one shown. It is shown at the end of the trailer. It has glowing eyes, a couple of horns, claws, scars all over its body, sharp teeth, and strange architecture in the legs, which would most likely inducate that this creature is some sort of demon. What this also concludes is that the player could be fighting against the evils of Hell of something like that.
“Four Heroes: The Hunter, the Witch, the Priest and the Engineer each offer unique gameplay experiences with distinctive weapons, skills and powers”
The four heroes’ part makes it sound like they’re jumping on the 4 player co-op bandwagon that Left 4 Dead, Borderlands, and Dead Island are already on. Whether or not this could detract from the scariness is still up in the air. Lastly, the “unique gameplay experiences” should actually define each character from the next, which would require different modes of thinking for every character rather than the usual characters having nearly the same skills except for that one power.
“Multiplayer: Cooperative multiplayer modes let you battle The Darkness with all four characters, or build smaller teams for a greater challenge.”
This sounds similar to F.3.A.R.’s multiplayer in which you and 3 other players have to survive wave after wave of enemies meanwhile doing a specific task during each wave (In other words: hoard mode). Who knows how well this will work, but it also sounds there will also be a survival mode where you can see who is the last player standing while wondering around the map. Last thing to note: is the enemy of the game really called The Darkness?
“Diverse Environments: Four ‘campaigns’ with multiple levels take players through the blasted landscape of Lorwich, and deep below to unearth the mysteries of this forsaken township”
By four “campaigns” the most positive conclusion one could make is that each character as receiving different experiences within the town rather than just going through the same however-many areas four times. With the fact that the word campaign is in quotes could also mean that there is an overarching story that spans all four of the character’s stories, which (just to throw an outlandish idea out there) could also mean that the final story or the concluding story is the multiplayer.
As for the town, the previous assumption that there will be a mine is correct and that the town has some sort of history. As for going through the town, it’s non-surprising to assume that the game will be linear in its level approach, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if the game did have open-world elements to it.
“The Power Of Illumination: Light up maps to create safe zones and damage your foes.”
Alan Wake, Luigi’s Mansion, why don’t they create a survival horror game where the light actually helps the enemy rather than hinder it. As for how it will affect gameplay, it sounds like the light will be a vital part of the multiplayer aspect of the game, but the inclusion of “safe zones” seems very similar of the temple safe zones in The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. With that in mind, it seems like the use of “illumination” could be a make or break part of the game’s system.
“Alone in the Dark brings you to the abandoned town of Lorwich, Virginia. Located near Virginia’s southern border, Lorwich was a flourishing industrial town with a bustling business generated by the local mines. These prosperous days came to an end when a flood devastated the mining facility, leaving behind nothing but destruction in its wake. The disaster forced an immediate evacuation, leaving the town desolate. It has been years since the accident, and the town has long been forgotten.”
“But the cause of the accident is still a mystery, and years later, nobody dares step foot in the town for fear of what lies there. There have been numerous reports of strange creatures and a dark, brooding fog within the town. Some locals who believe in the supernatural say there lurks an ever-present force known as The Darkness. The Darkness can reveal itself in many ways, such as fog, apparitions, and creatures. It has cast a spell over Lorwich, enveloping everything in its path. It is up to you to help defend the town by fighting back the Forces of Darkness.”
As for the back story of the town, there is one thing I want to say: Silent Hill much? Let’s see, there’s fog, there are creatures in the fog, the town was once very popular until the supernatural came into play, but the one thing that’s different is that it seems like “The Darkness” (Okay? So, they’ll be sticking with that name) is possessing the town rather than being there since the town’s origin. With that in mind, it is also right to assume that “The Darkness” had some responsibility with the flooding of the mine, but, at the same time, it also sounds like there is someone behind the scenes that’s pulling the strings for his (or her) own personal agenda rather than an entity or deity moving in and claiming the land as his own.
“The Hunter: As a direct descendant of Edward Carnby, a hero of the original Alone in the Dark, the Hunter grew up enthralled by the adventures of the ‘Supernatural Private Eye.’ He knew every detail of every case, including the notes of the strange creatures encountered. His grandfather was his mentor and as such the Hunter vowed that he too would help rid the world of the evil Darkness.”
“Primary Weapons and Abilities: AK47, M4, P90, Flamethrower.”
As far as the over-arching series is concerned, it looks like AITD 1-3 are officially considered canon. Also, from the summary given, it sounds like The Hunter is similar to Hugh Jackman’s version of Van Helsing. While it does mean the game may detract from the horror factor, it also means that the game could be fun it because I did like that movie. But, as Halo: Combat Evolved and F.3.A.R. demonstrated, there can be fun action sequences and creepy, scary, dread-feeling segments in the same game without really breaking the flow. Also, with how much of a powerhouse the Hunter sounds like, it’s possible that his experience may deal with him feeling very…vulnerable through whatever means if they really intend on following through on the horror experience.
“The Witch: The Witch is the great-granddaughter of Emily Hartwood, the heroine of the original Alone in the Dark. After her various other-worldy encounters with Edward Carnaby, Emily Hartwood began to dabble in the supernatural world. But unlike other occult practitioners she met, Emily learned only what she needed to protect herself. Her great-granddaughter, the Witch, followed in her footsteps and also studied the supernatural arts. From a young age, the Witch had a natural gift for magic, and her abilities far surpassed those of her other family members. The Witch swore to use her abilities to help others, and help protect the world from evil forces, such as those that terrorized her family”
“Primary Weapons and Abilities: Colt, Lightning Strike, Creature Control, Lightning Crawler.”
There isn’t much I could find about Emily Hartwood from the previous games other than she is the other protagonist you can play as in the first game and that she returned in the third game. As for the Witch, it sounds like she may be a very vital part to defeating The Darkness that is possessing the town. Also, with the fact that she dabbles in some of the occult, she may also have the deepest, and possibly the scariest, story out of all four of the characters. Lastly, I think her story may very much cross over with the Hunter’s.
“The Priest: The son of the nation’s most influential religious leaders, the Priest trained from a young age to combat the forces of darkness. With his enhanced abilities to heal and purify even the most extreme cases, the Priest has become a leading warrior in the never-ending battle against the darkness.”
“Primary Weapons and Abilities: Heaven and Hell, the Lord’s Blinding Light, Cleansing of the Sinners, The Binding Word.”
So, the Priest sounds like one of those characters who is been trained since birth to fight against evil for God. Don’t know how this will turn out, but you can almost bet that he will be butting heads with the Witch. Also, it is likely that his “journey” through the game will make him question his faith to some extent.
“The Engineer: The daughter of the Chief Engineer of the world’s leading computer hardware manufacturer, the Engineer was born to work with electronics. While other children played with plastic blocks, she was making remote-controlled robots from parts she found in her father’s work shed. Making gadgets filled up the Engineer’s free time. Her goal is to create mechanical items which could rival her father’s groundbreaking work.”
“Primary Weapons and Abilities: Beretta, Pump Shotgun, The Tesla, Comet”
Her backstory sort of reminds me of Claudia from Warehouse 13 and she even has a weapon/ability called “The Tesla”, so coincidence? I think not. To get back on a serious note, assuming that the Hunter’s and Witch’s stories very much cross and intertwine with each other, it is safe to assume that the Engineer’s story will very much intertwine with the Priest’s. There is nothing bad with that actually happening, but it just seems too predictable of a move. As for what horrors she may face, it may have something very much to do with how she’s living up to her father’s legacy and how everyone is holding her up to even higher standards than she is prepared for.
“Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft: Inspired by HP Lovecraft, Alone In The Dark: Illumination puts you in constant danger by coming face to face with demons of the underworld. As a player, you must survive the relentless onslaught of the Forces of Darkness, and the evil that lurks in its path.”
Admittedly, I have yet read a single piece of work by Lovecraft (I really need to though), but if Extra Credits is anything to go by, perhaps this is the part where the game could really turn things on its head. It has a slim chance of happening, but perhaps the designers decided to make all four of these character look and act powerful at first glance, and in the beginning moments of the game, as only to rip the rug out from under player as each character sooner or later realizes that they’re in over their heads and there is no way out. The Hunter realizes that the Darkness is an entity that he can never understand, the Witch watches in horror as the evil has its way with her and everything that she loves and hold dear, the Priest has an utter breakdown realizing there are some forces no one can ever defeat, and the Engineer would be manipulated to believing that she is failure no matter what she does. But, then it comes back to the whole illumination concept and it being a “survival-action horror experience”, so hope for the best and expect the worst.
“Dynamic Environments: Interact with a dynamic environment to change the structure of the map and advance your quest.”
Sounds like there will be some revisiting, backtracking, and scanning of levels since the environments are supposed to change with how one interacts with it. This could be an interesting concept and possibly reassures that the game may be open-world.
“Achievements and Bonuses: Track your progress and stats with Steam Achievements and Trading Cards”
Need we say more?
“Powered by Unreal Engine 4: Unprecedented Visual Fidelity using Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), delivers a unique layer of intrigue and story within the game’s environments.”
What do you really expect? It’s a new game engine so of course they’re going to show it off for all it’s worth.
And with that, those are my current opinions on the upcoming game, Alone In The Dark: Illumination. The game is set to release on Steam in Fall 2014 with no current indication of a console release. If you are interested in becoming immersed in the AITD universe before the game is released, you can find the Alone In The Dark 1-3 on Good Old Games.