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Alone in the Dark 4 Review

/ Sep 6th, 2001 No Comments

I love a bit of “Survival Horror” as much as the next man, so I was excited to see this game arrive this week.The game is part of a long running series, hence the “Four” in the title. I’ve played Alone in the Dark games from way back, they have always been fun and this one is not an exception.

It’s the standard horror storyline. “Carnby’s best friend, Charles Fiske has been found dead off a mysterious island off the coast of Maine, Shadow Island. Carnby’s investigation quickly leads him to Fred Johnson who informs him of Fiske’s search for the three ancient tablets which, when placed in a specific location, will unlock an incredible and dangerous power. Johnson pleads with Carnby to pick up where Fiske left off and reopen the investigation in order to recover the tablets. Carnby accepts the mission to find and destroy the murderer of Fiske and avenge his death.” Enough of the blurb lets get on to the Gameplay.

Alone in the Dark 4 is pretty standard in the Gameplay department. The controls and interface are taken right from Capcoms Resident Evil games. This isn’t a bad thing, the Resident Evil series of games are good in there own right. In fact, to date, Code Veronica has given me some of my favorite few days of gaming. You also have the stand by flashlight, which is helpful in this game because the creatures are afraid of the light. So, shine your light on the creepy “lickers” to give you a few precious seconds to sneak by.

There are two modes of play. You can be Edward or the lady he brings along with him. Her name escapes me because she’s pretty annoying and unmemorable. I played the game using the lady first time around. She actually has no weapon, just a flashlight, so things are pretty tough with her. I recommend playing with Edward if you are, in any way, a newbie to these types of games. Edward starts the game with a gun to defend himself, so things are a bit easier. The enemy’s are your standard fare – zombie dogs, strange “Licker” type creatures, and generic zombies with strange distorted faces.

I have a few problems with the Gameplay. There are no difficulty levels to choose from. As you play you will understand that the difficulty is “unbalanced”. You get a lot of opportunities to save by picking up a emblem, aptly named “the charm of saving”. Again, very similar to the typewriter ribbon of the Res Evil games, but there there are a lot more of them scattered around. While saving often can make the game easier, here is the unbalanced part, there is hardly any ammo to be found. Consequently, you might be playing along, saving often, and get just little way into the adventure only to find yourself in an impossible situation with no ammo to defend yourself.

The puzzles are also either very obvious or so obscure you will be old and grey before you figure them out. This kind of imbalance usually means I will never finish the game, which is a shame as it really looks good. Just be prepared with a lot of patience to get through it all.

The controls are fine. I recommend a game pad because things are much to complex when using a keyboard and mouse. I also recommend that you go into the options and reconfigure the default controls. They are so badly laid out that you will be putting your self at major disadvantage using them as they are .

On to the graphics. I was very impressed with the look of the game. There are scenes where the game switches to fmv on the fly and the effect is incredible (Similar to the way it worked in Final Fantasy 7). You don’ t really realize it’s happening so it makes the game very absorbing. The default res is 640×480 which looks great. Pump up the graphics to 1024×768 and the game looks amazing. The lighting effects from the flashlight deserve a mention as they are true real-time and that doesn’t happen in a lot of games.

Overall the game is a hit and a miss at the same time. The graphics and visual effects are top notch. The story and style are entertaining as a flashback to good old Res Evil game play, making it fun to start a whole new adventure. Just be sure that you have a good amount of patience and are not scared of things that go bump in the night, if you’ve got that going for you, you will love it. Unfortunately this reviewer didn’t 🙁

Roy Rossi

Roy Rossi

Roy Rossi was a long time major contributor to Gaming Illustrated before disappearing of the face of the Earth. His service to GI will never be forgotten.
Roy Rossi

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