Tuesday, 30 December 2014

alone in the dark

my older brother is currently obsessed with gog.com. he's a few years older than me so he remembers a load of old games from the 90s he played as a kid. every now and again he tries to get me to play one, as like a history lesson or something. for christmas he gifted me the alone in the dark trilogy and in return i agreed to actually play one of them. this is why i'm reviewing a game from 1992.

the story is that you're a detective (or there is a female character you can choose who i think is some relation to the owner of the house) hired to investigate a haunted house for some reason i've forgotten. the character turns up at the house, walks up into the attic and then you are left to explore. the graphics look pretty clunky by todays standards and the control system is hard work - it's really hard to get any accuracy in the fights and there's this awkward double-tap the forward arrow to run thing. at first i wasn't sure how far i was going to get and almost texted my brother to say 'tried it, as expected it's rubbish'. i mean, it's cool to see the origins of the survival horror genre and i get that it's kind of like watching a silent film, except the control system makes it really hard work. silent films aren't any harder to watch that contemporary films, if that makes sense. but there's one thing about this game that is amazing, and superior to most horror games now. it's the atmosphere.

there's a moment in the game where you walk into a kind of lounge and there's a ghost sitting in a chair - a transparent figure with glowing eyes. one of the many books you pick up in the game talks about this ghost. if you touch it, the ghost stands up and turns into a blobby monster thing and eats you, so you have to edge around the room. it's a really creepy sequence, and it adds to a building atmosphere of dread that runs throughout the game. the background material in the books you find adds to this as well, and what it does is present a world in which your character is dwarfed by the vast evil he is up against. i found this atmosphere and the process of piecing the story and history of the house together to be utterly compelling and it was this that made me press on to the end.

i admit, i did use a walkthrough a couple of times. life's too short to be wandering aimlessly through a house full of monsters with no idea what to do next.

overall, if you haven't played alone in the dark and you enjoy this type of game, i'd recommend checking it out. it does require a bit of perseverance to master the controls and has some frustrating moments but there are some genuinely creepy moments too and it's dripping with atmosphere and dread. i'm definitely going to check out the next one in the series.

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