Survived Horror – Alone In The Dark: Illumination Released

Alone in the Dark: Illumination [official site] is a curious name for a game that’ll have you neither alone nor really in the dark, but strange things happen when games carry papers plucked from the corpses of fallen franchises frozen on the battlefield of the industry. The shooter named after ye olde survival horror series launched last night with class-based shooty action and support for co-op with up to four players.

I suppose you are in the dark mostly, but there are lots of convenient fires and your guns do have flashlights.

Illumination goes down in the town or Lorich, which sounds like a Lovecraft-y name to me. The monster wearing the skin of Atari is playing up the Lovecraft side in this one, though it seems more about shooty monsters in their face(s?) until they fall over than flailing incompetently against something you cannot stop or even be register on the awareness of, so insignificant are you. It’s a shame that Lovecraft-y games seem to skip that part of Lovecraft and settle for tentacle-faced monsters and globs of eyes – which I like, don’t get me wrong, but aren’t as fun as losing your mind.

Infogrames, the creature currently clutching the hide of Atari around its bones, was actually behind the original Alone in the Dark games but that was long, long ago when the company was very, very different. At this point, it’s not much more than a (bought) name and a handful of people.

Anyway. Alone in the Dark: Illumination costs £22.99 on Steam. Perhaps I shouldn’t be down on it – I haven’t played it, and co-op with your chums does make most games way more fun than they’d otherwise be.

21 Comments

  1. Ansob says:

    “INVISIBLE DEMONS!” *several shots of very visible demons, one after the other*

    Something of a mixed message, there.

  2. OmNomNom says:

    Maybe it will contain a sequence of intricate puzzles but the solution to each one will be to shoot the monster’s face off

    • Ross Angus says:

      The moral of the story will be monsters are the real monsters.

      • ansionnach says:

        Good one!

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        When you gaze long into an abyss… you should probably stop and re-evaluate how you spend your time.

  3. tomimt says:

    AitD stopped being good after the first game. Okay, the third one set in the western village was amusing, but none of the these modernized versions haven’t been even that.

    • Penguin_Factory says:

      Wasn’t there one for the original playstation that was supposed to be good? Never played it myself, but I seem to remember it getting a lot of buzz at the time.

      • tomimt says:

        You’re propably talking about “The New Nightmare”. I tried to play it, but at least the PC version has so horrible controls, that the controls in the original game feel like a joy ride. Besides the little I played the game I was ripping from my stitches laughing at how unintentionally funny the game was.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        The New Nightmare on PC is the same version as the PS2 re-release I think, perhaps it’s better with a dual stick controller.
        I’ve only got the Playstation version so I can’t really speak for the others. The controls in that version are better than AitD 1 and 2 at least and the atmosphere is okay. The flashlight was pretty cool at the time. An abundance of cheap jump scare attempts with respawning monsters is pretty frustrating with limited ammo though.

        I wish someone would do a remake of the old trilogy, I just can’t enjoy them today because I’m missing those extra thick, rosy nostalgia goggles. I never play them as much as I’d like in the past. :/

    • ansionnach says:

      Sounds about right. The first one was great. The second one was okay and the third one was a masterclass of deliberately infuriating design. Even in the original the engine could be infuriating but there wasn’t so much action and there was enough variety and otherworldly oddness to keep you engaged. The other two had a lot more action than puzzle solving, underlining the problems with the engine. The puzzles were often wilfully obscure, especially in the third one. Obscure puzzle design wasn’t a stranger to the first one but it got away with it. Whatever about the weaknesses of the original three games the ones that followed were derivative survival-horror clones that shunned their adventure roots as well as the rest of their ancestry. It’s amazing that the series continues – I’d imagine that most people who liked the originals would be appalled to see the series repeatedly dragged through the mud. I’d be happy with a genuine-but-failed attempt to make a game in the spirit of the original at this stage. It’d be an adventure game with some action, but where most situations can be more elegantly solved with some puzzling. There’d be plenty of reading Lovecraftian prose hinting at the horrors lying in wait for you… and if you don’t read any of it you’ll never finish the game or even know what’s going on. Alone in the Dark shouldn’t be another “me too!” game trying to ape derivative Hollywood films, marketed with the obligatory solemnly voiced-over, bullshit-spouting trailer. Its roots are literary and themes should involve the psychological effects of loneliness and desolation, but in a subtle, or at least non-bombastic way.

      • tomimt says:

        I always did wonder why they decided to move away from Lovecraftian style with AitD2 and 3 and what possessed them to think that bringing the series to modern age was anywhere near a good idea. They tried so desperately to be cool and angsty like the big kids, that the series was pretty much doomed to fall on its face because they simply forgot what made the first game good in the first place.

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        Andy_Panthro says:

        I still really like the first Alone in the Dark, and it kinda bugs me that there hasn’t been a proper attempt at making a similar game either as a remake/reboot or sequel. After all, the Resident Evil series has lasted far longer after an initial game which was very similar to AitD, and people are always talking about how much they love Silent Hill. There’s a market out there which a medium-sized budget game could easily attract.

        • tomimt says:

          There actually was an official remake of the first AiTD in the works, there’s footage of it flying around, but the project got cancelled. As far I recall the attic scene they showed in it was pretty 1:1 with the original.

          • ansionnach says:

            Thought I was replying to this with my “Really don’t see the benefit…” comment. Guess I wasn’t.

            Interesting, never knew there was a remake in the works. Looked at the walkthrough video. Other than the improved graphics I liked how you could control throwing the vase. There were more things I didn’t like about it, however. Firstly, the monsters were way overdone with muscles on their muscles and heads growing out of their heads. There were also plenty of QTEs, which is bad. I’d have left in the death when you fall through the floor, for example. There were too many cutscenes and scripted events as well. Worst of all was the dumbing down of the mirrors puzzle at the top of the staircase. Instead of the original’s subtle (obscure?) hints, all you do instead is a bit of busy work to find keys to find gems to put in statues’ mouths. So it was going to be more Resident Evil than AitD. Maybe it’d be like if they made a new Mad Max film based on the second one except remade as a product of its time rather than something unique and interesting – a slave to a lot of the popular tropes out there in blockbusterdom right now. It might do some things well, like giving a large supporting cast something useful to do and some agency in the success or failure of The Thing To Do… but it still wouldn’t be a great film when all the hype dies down. It might at best be decent and entertaining but would still be vastly overshadowed by its forebear. Niggling discrepancies like many of the vehicles being left-hand drive would only add to your feeling that it has shed its DNA in favour of something more marketable… like someone deliberately adopting a fake accent to impress fake people so busy trying to hide their own fakery that they don’t notice it all around.

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            Andy_Panthro says:

            Wow, I wonder how I missed it? link to youtube.com

            Looks pretty impressive (aside from being a little too dark and grey for my taste, I liked that the attic was quite bright and yet not safe). Shame they never got to finish it.

        • ansionnach says:

          Maybe Ecstatica and Bioforge are the games I’ve played that are most like the original AitD. Plenty of atmosphere, reading and puzzle solving in Bioforge; Ecstatica doesn’t really have many puzzles but it’s got a horror/Monty Python and the Holy Grail atmosphere – fusing the styles of all three AitD games! The second Ecstatica game was terrible. Don’t know what they were thinking. Very obviously designed as a cash-in PlayStation game. It’s nothing like the first one.

  4. zarnywoop says:

    Never again, Atari. Never again.

  5. Dale Winton says:

    So….. Are you going to review it or what?

    Not a great time for a Game to launch

  6. ansionnach says:

    Doesn’t seem to be going for the Alone in the Dark vibe at all. For the next one they’ll claim to have, through dark magicks, been in consultation with H.P. Lovecraft himself. Game will turn out the same. The one after that will be a parody of their efforts to make an Alone in the Dark game to equal the not-very-good Alone in the Dark 3 and you’ll have to find the source code for all the games post original trilogy and destroy it. Cthulhu will be along to provide assistance and exercise his comedy sidekick muscles. It’ll be a bit like the Plan 9 from Outer Space game in that it’s about something so awful that that should be the main plank of the plot. When you complete the game your machine will crash, overheat and burn down your house, making it difficult for you to play another Alone in the Dark game should you survive.

  7. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    So “Alone in the Dark: The Movie/Tax Scam: Directed by Uwe Boll: The Game”?

  8. ansionnach says:

    Really don’t see the benefit in remaking games most of the time. If it’s a rare classic then what are the odds of striking gold again? Even revisions done not long after the original game don’t always work. Only ever played the floppy version of AitD and seeing the CD version on youtube with a creepy voice reading the books breaks the atmosphere. Also: the talkie versions of Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max are awful.

    Emulators are great things. Saw what Tandy graphics look like for the first time in my life today courtesy of DOSBox. Never had a compatible real video card so always wondered. When you’ve got great emulators out there there’s zero need to remake games. It would make more sense to remake a bad or broken game like KotOR2 than ones that really can’t be improved upon.