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Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare – 18th Anniversary Retrospective

The late ’90s and early 2000s have been an thrilling time for survival horror. Totally different builders have been making an attempt out new methods to scare gamers. The 32-bit period took benefit of state-of-the-art methods to take advantage of the potential of latest hardware. Video games like Silent Hill experimented with a critical tackle horror, whereas titles like D, Dino Disaster, Worry Impact, and Parasite Eve every put their very own distinctive spin on their respective recreation varieties. The survival horror style was evolving.

Out of this era of artistic new experimentation got here Alone within the Darkish: The New Nightmare, an formidable, fastened digital camera, single-player survival horror title. The sport was an try and rejuvenate a franchise devoid of any new releases since 1994. The irony was that this new entry would now should compete in a gaming panorama populated by quite a few titles which took direct inspiration from the style it had helped to create. Developed by Darkworks and revealed by unique collection writer Infogrames, The New Nightmare launched on Might 18th, 2001 and appeared on quite a few platforms, together with the PS1, Dreamcast, Recreation Boy Shade, and Home windows. It might later see a Europe-only launch for the PS2, in addition to a forgettable massive display adaptation in 2005 and a tie-in comedian e-book. The collection would go on to have two different essential videogame entries; one other reboot of types merely titled Alone within the Darkish (2008) for the 360 and PS3, and Alone within the Darkish: Illumination (2015) for PC.

Regardless of being critically properly acquired and financially profitable, AITN: TNN by no means acquired a correct sequel and has principally been forgotten. On the 18th anniversary of its launch, I’d like to have a look again at what made The New Nightmare so particular and why it nonetheless holds up as we speak as one of many 32-bit period’s defining horror classics, although many won’t be accustomed to it.

Alone within the Darkish: The New Nightmare acts as a reboot and religious successor of the Alone within the Darkish collection, a throwback to a extra gothic sort of horror. Its objective was to pay homage to the legacy of its predecessors, whereas on the similar time firmly establishing its personal distinctive id. Whereas it’s the 4th recreation within the collection, it has little to do with earlier entries in addition to the identify and characters. Within the making-of video for the sport, Infogrames CEO Bruno Bonnell talks about how they needed to return to the collection the place every thing began and make the very weird actual.

The sport follows collection protagonist Edward Carnby and newcomer Aline Cedrac. Removed from his portrayal as a 1920s period gentleman detective within the unique AITD, right here Carnby is a long-haired, trenchcoat-wearing personal eye. As the sport opens, he learns that his good friend Charles Fiske has been discovered lifeless on Shadow Island, simply off the coast of Massachusetts. Fiske’s dying has been linked to a reclusive professor named Obed Morton and his analysis into the abkanis Indian tablets. Aline is a gifted younger ethnology professor who accompanies Carnby to assist translate the tablets and seek for clues to her household’s previous.

As with the unique AITD, you’ve gotten the selection of enjoying as both of the 2 principal characters from the outset of the sport. Carnby’s story is extra action-heavy, whereas Aline’s focuses extra on puzzles. As with Resident Evil 2, you’ll have to play as each characters to expertise the entire story. Each characters are personable, and it’s enjoyable seeing their interactions with each other. The voice performances are applicable for every of them, even when they’re a bit stiff at occasions. Different characters, together with audio and movie recordings you discover alongside the best way, assist flesh out the backstory of the island and the ignominious Morton household historical past. Throughout gameplay, you have got the choice of utilizing your radio to succeed in out to your associate for steerage or updates. You don’t all the time get a response, however if you do, it’s a superb solution to hear about your associate’s progress and study helpful info on the story.

It’s arduous to speak extra concerning the recreation’s story with out stepping into spoilers so I’ll chorus from going too in-depth for many who haven’t performed it but. Suffice to say that the sport’s premise takes the thought of a haunted home and expands that into a whole island. The environments vary from wooded, dilapidated exteriors, the claustrophobic hallways of the manor, to an underground honeycomb of cavernous tunnels, and past.

The New Nightmare pays particular homage to a number of hallmarks of the collection, together with its use of utmost, cinematic digital camera angles and an oppressive, atmospheric temper. A number of lavish cutscenes, beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, and extremely detailed character fashions all contributed to the sport’s AAA look. These extremely detailed backgrounds can at occasions be a double-edged sword, although. Due to the best way some issues are laid out, digital camera angles may be hidden and essential gadgets and clues obscured. You actually have to go looking for every little thing. The sport’s driving, oppressive soundtrack instantly immerses you in the dead of night, gloomy setting, alternating between a pulse-pounding beat and moments of silence. Every sort is used to its greatest impact, sustaining a constant degree of rigidity that retains you on the sting of your seat.

Motion within the recreation is consistent with the usual tank controls in survival horror video games of the time. Your character is mapped to the d-pad, when you management a flashlight with the left analog stick. You will have the choice of turning it on and off and have full management to shine it on any a part of the surroundings. Double-tapping again on the d-pad does a 180 flip. AITN: TNN had some spectacular lighting results for the time, together with lens flares on the flashlight, background results, and dynamic shadows forged by totally different mild sources. Charms are collected all through the sport and function the sport’s model of ink ribbons, permitting you to save lots of your progress.

The interaction between mild and darkish is one other essential component of AITN: TNN. The sport is rendered in such a method that your mild can precisely illuminate environment, objects, and characters, all whereas casting dynamic shadows and highlights. It’s one of many standout options. Flashlights, as a convincing visible and helpful gameplay mechanic, is a function that began hitting its stride with the 32-bit period. AITN: TNN took benefit of the know-how of the time to duplicate in-camera lighting results like lens glare and rim-lighting — this was earlier than recreation builders might incorporate dynamic methods which calculate complicated lighting and rendering results, so TNN’s builders needed to discover a option to obtain the identical outcomes manually. The impact of the layered lighting utilized within the recreation is one thing really distinctive and was an progressive means of working round technical limitations.

Along with the flashlight, you even have a number of artistic weapons to fight the supernatural. They vary from custom-made pistols and shotguns, which make the most of magnesium and phosphorous rounds, to plasma cannons and lightning weapons. A number of the extra eccentric weapons undoubtedly have a gothic ghostbuster vibe to them and really feel actually satisfying to wield. It’s enjoyable to experiment with which weapons work greatest with totally different enemy varieties. Some video games make you are feeling overpowered by throwing plenty of ammo and weapons at you. Others strip every part away, and also you’re fortunate should you can break into a light-weight jog to flee from enemies. TNN finds the suitable stability of retaining you well-equipped and empowered, whereas nonetheless limiting your assets sufficient to maintain you feeling on edge.

Enemy design and conduct are additionally key elements of the sport. Via their unholy incantations, the Morton household has summoned supernatural creatures of darkness, operating the gamut between hulking humanoid designs and low-to-the-ground insect-like crab monsters, to large sewer gators and tentacles monsters. These creatures genuinely appear to stalk you. Since ammo is restricted, it’s a must to determine if it’s value it to stay round and battle or to show tail for the closest exit. One of many enjoyable issues concerning the recreation was wanting ahead to seeing what loopy monster would seem subsequent; the variability stored issues recent all through its runtime.

AITD:TNN’s affect on future titles within the survival horror style might be seen within the revolutionary use of things and stock, and the power to interrupt aside and recombine totally different gadgets in new and fascinating methods. Sure puzzles might solely be solved by disassembling gadgets to retrieve an important element. At one level, you must put a particular blue lens filter in your flashlight to disclose hidden markings within the surroundings. Different puzzles are solvable through the use of clues heard from audio recordings, requiring gamers to recollect a selected phrase or sound to finish sure puzzles. These are simply a few examples of the sport’s efficient marriage of gameplay and puzzles. Only a few video games took benefit of puzzles and stock the best way TNN did.

Not solely was the sport technically revolutionary, however it additionally helped to additional the moody aesthetic of the survival horror style. The builders went out of their strategy to create an oppressive tone and environment. The driving beat of its soundtrack helped maintain gamers on edge, and its partaking story gave them a cause to proceed enjoying. It proved that you might have a well-written story driving the gameplay by encouraging gamers to dig deep to uncover all of the secrets and techniques of the island all through the sport’s two 6-Eight hour campaigns.

Whereas maybe not fairly as influential or nicely referred to as its greater brothers, Alone within the Darkish: The New Nightmare continues to be a well-crafted, finely honed piece of 32-bit survival horror that doesn’t get acknowledged almost sufficient. Any fan of old-school survival horror owes it to themselves to check out this uncared for gem. It’s presently obtainable on PSN (PS3-only) and GOG.com for $5.99, and Steam for $6.99.

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