Things get worse in the driving sections dotted through the game. Vehicles are hard to control, those dramatic changes in camera angle become even more irritating, and one long, if spectacular sequence desperately calls for at least one mid-section checkpoint. There are chunks of game you’ll repeat over and over and over again, until it gets all too tempting to reach for that ‘skip’ button. And whoever decided that context-sensitive stick movements were the best way to handle actions like hotwiring a car, giving CPR or repairing a blown circuit board needs a good talking to. Everywhere you look, from puzzle-solving to inventory management – where you laboriously cycle left and right through the items stowed in your jackets while the action carries on around you – you feel like you’re getting a hard time because somebody decided that things should be done in a new way, and not necessarily the best way.
And this is a terrible shame, because the more I played Alone in the Dark, the more I stopped enjoying the experience. I stopped feeling tense or nervous about that was happening to the characters in the game, because I was too busy feeling fed-up or stymied by the way I had to control them. To be truly immersive, a game has to make the way you interact with it transparent, or at least second nature. Alone in the Dark keeps it constantly at the forefront of your mind, spoiling your enjoyment in the way that an irritating punter in the next seat can spoil a good movie.
Hence the low score. If Alone in the Dark had been more enjoyable hands-on, I’d be whacking an eight or nine at the top of this review, but I’ve found it so consistently frustrating to play that I can’t even reach for a seven. Is it a good thing that I can skip through a section of game and get to the next bit? As long as I don’t miss out on the story, it probably is. Is it a good thing that I constantly wanted to? Nope, and that’s Alone in the Dark’s problem in a nutshell.
A strong, potentially cutting edge horror game wrecked by car-crash controls and some hugely irritating design decisions. Only worth a go if you have an awful lot of patience.
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