A pattern is forming. Yes, brown is also in, but casting a certain kinda fella has become a trendy next-gen staple. It appears that companies cannot build a succesful scary game unless the protagonist falls under the following strict guidelines:
(1) Must be ruggedly emo. The bigger the chin, the better.
(2) Must wearing a leather jacket at all times. Especially when dealing with the forces of evil in any climate under dim lighting.
(3) Must have medium length hair unless there's a military angle.
(4) Must not own a pair of shorts. Ever. Converse shoes? Fired. Baseball cap? Fired. If a model shows up in an ironic T-Shirt he will be turned away.
(5) Brow must protrude enough to totally cloak eye sockets whenever possible. Must stand directly under lamps when milling around for added effect.
(6) The more perpetually moody, the better. Must never look scared, no matter what kind of crazy shit presents itself. The more sullen and distant, the better!
I came to the realization of this pattern while browsing the two new screenshots for Alone In The Dark -- a game that by no stretch of the imagination resembles the original franchise (for better or worse). If you loved the original, hear me out.
There were few compelling reasons to own a 3D0 in the 90's, and Alone In The Dark was certainly one of them. The game's graphics and play control were primitive and obtuse, but few games had tackled a haunted mansion environment quite like it so the experience garnered a genuine scare. The game was also humorously twisted: you could spend all day drinking potions that would make your head spin and snap off, read the Necronomicon, and die in all sorts of entertaining ways. I think this was key in cementing the game's popularity and (no pun intended) cult following.
Fast forward to 2005. We begin to see little grand illustrations of the next-gen installment, a video trailer makes it's way to the web last year, and we receive to brand new mystifying screenshots today. While this all looks like a blockbuster Hollywood production I'm left wondering ... where's the cooky professor with the awkward mustache? How is this an extension of the series that Virtual Dreams started? It looks serious as hell!
Pictured below: Alone in the Dark on the PS3
Thus, the name on the box is confusing for a long-time fan of the series. What a departure! Also of concern: Atari has entrusted the script to Lorenzo Carcaterra, author of The Sleepers. Will this production be worthy of the series name? I suppose we'll find out sooner or later, but at the moment it's hard to discern this from titles like The Darkness, Resident Evil, and even Alan Wake. Behold:
Pictured below: The Darkness
Back to Alone in the Dark. Different guy or good booking agent?
Pictured below: Alan Wake on the Xbox 360. Bonus points for elbow pads.
Stab yourself in the face if you don't recognize this fella:
Now, consider this character. Boom. Signature Alone in the Dark. It's fun to hate on redheads until you realize that all your video games look the same.
Don't get me wrong -- the new game really looks great and the PS3 desperately needs games like this. However, I do have a growing concern that game design is taking a nod from Hollywood to put Brad Pitts into our games in the place of better suited and original character design. I think memorable should come first.