It's been hard getting back into old school survival-horror
February 15, 2017

I've been playing Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare on PlayStation lately. I've had the game for a number of years, but never bothered to go through it because I wanted to play through the original 3 installments first. Unfortunately, at the time I purchased New Nightmare, obtaining the original 3 for PC was difficult without pirating, using DOSBox and tweaking my system or the games' files.

Thankfully, GOG held the answer. I registered there, bought the original trilogy in a three-pack and finished them. Now that I'm finally delving into New Nightmare, I have to say that it's both not at all worth it and so worth it.

There's no denying that New Nightmare has some kinks to work out. It basically copied Resident Evil's material and rehashed it less effectively. However, New Nightmare is also a little more approachable than Res-Ev because it hasn't been as balls-out challenging, especially not when you receive a triple barreled shotgun and piles upon piles of shells.

What I'm most thankful for is that the game is re-teaching me how to play a dying genre. It's been ages since I've touched a legit survival-horror game, and I'm a bit rusty. Here's what I've forgotten:

  • Damn tank controls... Press up to walk forward, use the left and right D-pads to turn, down button allows you to reverse... You know, all that jazz. New Nightmare's controls take some getting used to. Carnby moves about as if he's drunk, which makes running past your opponents quite the task. This is especially important when you're dealing with plant monsters because they can take several shots to the kill (5 shots from the shotgun, soaking up 15 shells). There's one scene where you can push past a pair of them and flick on a light switch, which automatically kills them. That saves 30 shells. 30!!!

  • Using the inventory screen to reload. Don't. Run. Out. Of. Ammo. Ever. Keep track of how many shots you have left and be sure to enter the inventory screen to reload. Otherwise, Carnby will reload the gun while his enemies approach him, giving them ample time to close the gap between them and steal some of his health. If you open the inventory screen, it pauses the action and allows you to reload without dealing with that pesky animation.

  • Be sparing. Just because you're near death doesn't mean you need to use a first-aid kit right away. I've been running on "caution" for a while, gathering additional medkits. When necessary, I'll use one.

  • Limited saving sucks. Remember when Resident Evil required you to find ink ribbons to save, and you could only use them whenever you saw a typewriter? New Nightmare kind of does the same thing, using an item called Charm of Saving. However, New Nightmare's version allows you to save anywhere. As with the first-aid kits, you need to be sparing with these guys.

  • Don't open fire just because you see something creepy. New Nightmare utilizes disturbing imagery, and also tricks you into thinking there are legit enemies in the room with you. Sometimes they'll appear, walk away from you and vanish. I've had another scare that involved a demonic insect creeping across the camera, creating the illusion that it was stalking the very chamber I was in. After a thorough search with my shotgun raised, I reached the conclusion that it was just a prank.


The game has had some highs and lows. Hopefully, when I reach the end, I can say that the highs outnumber the lows. I'm going to reserve any further opinions until I publish my review, though.

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Feedback
honestgamer honestgamer - February 16, 2017 (12:35 AM)
Survival horror games don't tend to work for me, though I did enjoy what I played of Silent Hill 2. I just really don't like the tank controls. Supposedly, they heighten the tension, but really they're just a tremendous nuisance. They certainly don't make anything more realistic, and I'm pulled out of a game's atmosphere whenever I have to spend too long thinking about how I can make a character walk to the left.

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