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Alone in the Dark (Wii) artwork

Alone in the Dark (Wii) review

"Imagine if you were driving along a coastal highway with your girlfriend on your way to a weekend resort as part of a paid holiday. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a semi truck slams into your vehicle, forcing it from the road to tumble amidst the jagged rocks a hundred feet below. Somehow you survive and pull your carcass out of the vehicle. You look back to help your girlfriend out of the car and see she's unconcious. You give her arm a tug to see if you can free her and her upper torso comes of..."

Imagine if you were driving along a coastal highway with your girlfriend on your way to a weekend resort as part of a paid holiday. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a semi truck slams into your vehicle, forcing it from the road to tumble amidst the jagged rocks a hundred feet below. Somehow you survive and pull your carcass out of the vehicle. You look back to help your girlfriend out of the car and see she's unconcious. You give her arm a tug to see if you can free her and her upper torso comes off.

That emotion you're feeling? That's the same kind of pain that buying Alone in the Dark for the Wii left me with. No, it's not the scenario of the game. That would be an awesomely dark and disturbing scenario for a horror game. It's simply the after effect of having spent fifty greenbacks on a horribly bad port of an already mediocre game. From what I understand, the game takes place mostly in Central Park at night with monsters. I wouldn't know for sure because I only managed to make it halfway through the first chapter before selling my Wii in disgust. It reminded me of that time I had a threesome with my girlfriend. Once Alone in the Dark had stuck itself inside my Wii, the magic of our relationship was forever ruined.

Let me walk you now through the details of my gaming experience.

Things began well enough. The opening cutscene (involving two suited men in strenuous conversation) was appropriately cheesy for a horror game without giving me any useful information. It was followed by the usual obligatory "walk up some stairs and through some office hallways slowly so you learn the controls" segment, though this was made a bit cooler by the fact that my vision was all blurry and I had to press a button to momentarily "blink" away the blurriness. As events exploded into mayhem I began to become excited about the possibilities of this new blinking system. Here I am, alone and running through a building, hearing monsters crawling all around me and chasing me, and I can't even see well. If the mechanic was to be combined with first person shooting elements, it could add a considerable amount of tension to the game.

I was so excited that I had to stop and go get a sandwich to calm me down.

When I came back about twenty minutes later I discovered to my annoyance that I had left the game on, and unpaused. And yet my grief quickly turned to confusion when I saw that I was still alive. The monsters that I thought had been chasing me turned out to be nothing more than show pieces, sound bits. I mean, christ, I'd left Edward Carnby for long enough to take a nice power nap. I was seriously perturbed that he wasn't chewed to pieces by the ravishing undead, or whatever was making that scratching snarling sound. It never actually showed itself, so for all I know it was a secretary having a noshing binge.

Anyways, I shook off these initial warning signs and proceeded to fall down an elevator shaft and end up on another floor where I ran into a woman trying her damndest to act concerned and scared. I don't blame her. The building was on fire by now, after all. I do wish she'd been a bit more convincing. I also wish the pointless cutscene of her whining was skippable, because about fifteen seconds after watching it, Edward Carnby suddenly went into a series of convulsions, I heard a bunch of popping noises, my screen turned orange, and he died. To this day I have no idea what happened. The game acted like it was all very natural, though, loading me back up to watch the cutscene again and inviting me to keep on playing. Despite a definite feeling of gamer's dread, I obliged.

Next up was a section involving fire. This I had been excited for. I had seen videos showing off the game's fire graphics and mechanics. Supposedly they utilized random processing so that the fire would spread differently every game, and I knew even from crummy you tube videos that it looked impressively realistic. Apparently, though, these things were only for Xbox360 users. The fire I saw on the Wii was not only static (in that it didn't spread), it looked like bits of orange cardboard paper being shifted around by an underpaid AI. Never before had I felt such love for the Wii.

I began to feel distinctly like I'd been ripped off. I continued to play in desperation, hoping that things would get better soon. Only now I was having trouble getting the Wii's controls to work. Moving around in first person was a chore, as the game would try to interpret my every twitch as a massive sweeping movement. Invariably, the result of the interpretation was the same. I would run into a wall and stay there for several seconds while Edward Carnby tried to remember why he'd come back for another game in the series. I tried switching to third person, but the game didn't like that much and showed me this by graphically freaking out, causing the camera to spin rapidly around Edward when I got near a corner, or making walls and floors dissapear if I actually managed to move somewhere. I persisted until my Wii threw up on my carpet.

Things got worse when I moved out of the building onto a small ledge. The way forward (a hanging electrical cord) was fairly obvious. A magical giant "A" showed me what button to push and where to jump onto the cord. Only the game was having bi-polar issues, and while it certainly encouraged me to press A a lot, it didn't actually seem to want to get out of bed and make the programing work. No matter how many times I pushed A, nothing happened.

How did I continue? By reseting the game, of course (Don't ask me why I continued). Fortunately, it had automatically saved right before this, so I didn't have to redo anything. And this time, the A button worked, treating me not to an animation of Edward actually getting on to the rope, but instead just teleporting him there. For a moment I wondered where the inbetween animation had gone, but then I remembered something I'd seen on the back of the box. There the developers proudly exclaimed I could skip chapters to get right to the end of the game if I was having trouble. I know I've mentioned before the "Oblivion Complex" in which a game feels obliged to let you skip its beautiful but pointless scenery via teleportation or taxi services. Alone in the Dark takes that to a whole new level, allowing you to skip a pointless and (in the Wii's case) ugly game. So of course it would also remove pointless and unneccesary animations as well. Silly me!

The climbing of the rope led to a short sequence of swinging and jumping from various ropes. Or at least I assume it was supposed to be short. From a combination of poor controls and the game refusing to recognize that I'd actually landed on a viable ledge, I had to play this part roughly fifty times over the course of two hours. And when I finally made it, the game was not pleased. Totally losing all sense of clipping, Edward found the wall that he was leaning up against turn suddenly non-existent. After some brief flailing, he fell several stories through the floor to his doom, and the game started me back at the damn ledge. I turned off the system and checked the back of the game box, to see if I'd perhaps missed a disclaimer proclaiming that the developers hated me.

I returned the game the next day, claiming that it hadn't played properly (not really a lie). I used the money to buy Resistance and soon sold my Wii for a well deserved three hundred dollars. There are some titles I'll miss. Alone in the Dark won't be one of them.

I now hear that a PS3 version of this game is coming out. While a part of me is still intrigued to see cool fire effects and play the game in a version that works, I recall the after effects of the first play through and quickly change my mind. A week after first putting it in my system , my girlfriend left me, my roommate and best friend left me, I pulled a muscle in my groin, and my cat died. Don't play this game, at least not on the Wii.

zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (November 12, 2008)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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bloomer posted November 12, 2008:

I did not experience teleporting graphics or instant death for no apparent reason.

There are basically 2 versions of this game, which have quite different level sets. The Wii and PS2 share one set, and the XBox and PS3 share the other. Lots of talk at 'Chris's Survival Horror Quest' suggests the Wii and PS2 got the good set. Nearly everyone found the Xbox version maddening, especially 1. The combat being infinitely harder and the necessity to flambe all monsters. And 2. There's a whole bit devoted to incinerating multiple ground dwelling monsters in Central Park . Just running away from 2 of these guys on the Wii is pain enough. Anecdotally, it's pretty unanimous that point 2 was the worst thing.

The PS3 version is an attempt to execute the Xbox level set again but addressing the sorest points. I haven't played it but I heard mostly it did not fix enough. So in the end it remains my recommendation to play the Wii version, which I really dig. I don't think anyone's gonna die as a result. I think some of this review is disingenuous (like the sandwich as criticism) but I don't think we miss the basic point - you didn't like the game.
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honestgamer posted November 12, 2008:

This review was an interesting read, but I'm not sure how much of it to believe. At the start, you say that you played the game only 10 minutes, then sold it and your Wii. I wondered at that point why I should read a review based on such a short time with it, but decided to anyway because you do have an engaging style--particularly at the start of this review.

So I kept reading, and later in the text you talk about playing the game, then going to get a sandwich while leaving the game running for 20 minutes. That's an interesting anecdote about the game and extremely effective at showing how perceived tension isn't really there, but it also contradicts your introduction. The end result is that I'm not sure what is exaggeration and what is fact, and the piece as a whole loses much of its effectiveness for me. It's still a good read (props for that!), but not something I would likely consider significantly when deciding whether or not to try the game for myself.

Speaking of which, I probably won't try it for myself. I don't generally like horror games all that much.
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zippdementia posted November 12, 2008:

Yeah, I wondered how people would interpret that. What i meant to say, and will change, is that I played what SHOULD have been the first 10 minutes of gameplay, but it ended up being much longer because of the issues.

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