Today I was lucky enough to attend a preview for Alone in the Dark
, the newest survival horror title to hit the market this June. The event was held at the very classy Everyman Cinema
in Hampstead and was also a mix of press and competition winners attending the event.
The majority of our time there was being shown the general game play mechanics of the title. First of all I just wanted to say how beautiful the game looks - details on objects are superb and I was really taken away with the over look of the park and buildings in the surrounding area. After some hands on time with Alone, I found movement very sluggish and slow - something you should expect from most survival horror titles. However if you are looking for a title that relives classic survival horror moments I will say you could
be in for a major disappointment.
While AitD runs on a rather captivating story to grit our teeth into, and can run up to 15 hours of solid point to point game play, I can only feel that the developers Eden Games
have taken the 'Hollywood' idea too far. For example, if you pick up the game and have forgotten key moments of the story you can access a small trailer that outlines the key happenings in the game by replaying clips of cut scenes and gameplay etc. Get ready to snigger when "Previously on Alone in the Dark..." plays onto your screen - I couldn't help but laugh and so did a couple of attendees around me.
It seems the general consensus from the team was 'how can we make this more addictive? what's popular right now?' Shows such as Lost
must have been a huge influence seeing as when you enter the menu it shows a DVD style screen and options. Don't like a difficult part of the game? Skip it.
Yes you heard me right, skip it. Fast-forward through the hard bits. I don't want to try any more! Don't like that boss? Skip! SKIP! SKIIIPPP!!!
The whole game is organised into Episodes and Chapters making replaying certain parts of the game a snap, but also completing the title so much easier. You can pretty much play quarter of the title and still watch the ending. I find this the most ridiculous thing to ever be brought to a game, especially a survival horror title. What next? Auto play!? Okay, I don't know why I am raving about an optional feature of the game but the temptation to use it and miss vital scenes was upset me.
Lets move onto more pressing matters - The combat system. Shooting will always be in first person and will automatically change if you are playing in 3rd person. Why? Apparently because they wanted to use the right cameras for the right situations. I do agree that shooting has always been great in first person but after spending a lot of time enjoying the combat in Mass Effect I was curious as to why they didn't adopt that system as well as having an FPS view. There is also no auto aim as such, your laser will only attempt to lock onto enemies if you get it over them but apart from that your on your own.
Guns are not the only weapon available either - the game is prided over having a pretty rich choice of weaponry from your environment. While you can't pick up an Axe for example and shove it down your trousers, you can pick it up and use it again enemies in your area by either hacking away or throwing it in their direction. I really like the way you handle objects as well. Picking up and using the right analogue stick to swing the object around and over your head.
You can also combine objects to create pretty powerful and effective killing tools. Your gun not doing the job? Pour fuel onto the bullets and now they are enhanced with fire. Pour some whiskey into a bottle and wrap some sticky tape around it and you now you can throw it at enemies, shoot at it and oh noes their head asplode!
Another interesting aspect was the AI in the game. Enemies will seek you out and use the shortest route to get you. We were being attacked and so we ran off through a door, still outside was the enemy and you could see him through the window. Guess what? He can see you too! I know this isn't really revolutionary but most survival horror games work on that "run through the door and hide" system. Sadly the enemy worked out that politely opening the door was not the quickest route to me but jumping through the glass was. I found it weird however that when we jumped out of the glass after him jumping in he got a little confused and walked around in the small room before running out to attack us. I also found it strange that when I ran off an extra character I was with, Sarah, just stood there. The enemy didn't attack her though... I did ask the developer as to why that is and she basically said "if the enemy sees you then you become it's primary target". So a little buggy perhaps?
Also did I mention you could drag dead bodies into the fire? YAYAYAAYAYAYA!
I absolutely love the inventory in this game. It reminded me of Resident Evil 4 and "What ya buying?" with the inventory completely compiled from your jacket. It's all in real time too, so if you really need to make a molotov cocktail cocktail and if your surrounded by a number of enemies you will still be vulnerable to attacks. Honestly, a very refreshing take to the idea of inventories and hopefully more titles will take on this more direct approach in the future.
As I mentioned earlier with the Hollywood feel of Alone, I can say it works in some aspects. For example, you start off in the building and after a long and slightly annoying opening/interactive cut scene. Once you start to run around the building is constantly falling apart and shaking. Even with simple tasks such as rappelling down a wall can feel like an epic journey. Explosions were constantly going off and the fire technology in this game is outstanding. Everything that is flammable will catch on fire and you can slowly watch a whole room light up with fire. Seriously, it was amazing. My jaw was getting closer and clover to the floor as we were scaling across a building and bricks and wood and everything was falling off around me, exploding and rumbling.
We also got to see a rather impressive driving section of the game where you have to speed through the city as it collapses around you. The ground was shifting and buildings were falling and blocking your path. Really reminded me of playing Halo 3 on co-op at the end, screaming at that final jump! It looked fantastic and I really cannot wait to see more of the action in this game.
Oh man, I could go on for hours but all I can say is apart from some small disappointment's I cannot wait for this title to come out. I am upset to hear that horror isn't a main focus point throughout the game however the action will make up for it. DLC? Co-op? Who knows, we did ask but they cannot comment. I am upset to tell you that once you've completed the game that's pretty much it. No multi endings or unlocks.
I really enjoyed the event. It was great to see some regular faces and keep your eyes peeled on xbox insider as I was interviewed haha. I got to see Phil Harrison (shiny head) and enjoy the below video for some Nour Polloni action, who also presented the game to us.