Preview: Alone in the Dark (XB360, PC)

Publisher: Atari
Developer: Eden Studios
Genre: Survival Horror Action
Release Date: (Tentative) 3-1-2007

When people think about the survival horror genre inevitably what comes to mind are long running series such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill and assorted others. Whether this recognition is deserved or not is up to the individual gamer, but I am willing to bet most gamers donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t think of the series that brings us our preview material today, even though it is this series that truly gave birth to the survival horror genre. Alone in the Dark seeks to resurrect the franchise and breathe new life into it on the X-box 360 and PCâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s this coming year. Expectations are running high for Atari and developer Eden Studios to deliver in spades on this release and so far Alone in the Dark looks not only very promising, but it also looks like it will be delivering your dose of survival horror in a decidedly unique fashion.

While some aspects of Alone in the Dark have been kept intentionally tight lipped, what can not be denied is the impressive visuals seen on the various versions of the game. The demos seen so far show the main character, Camby, in New York City. Particular attention is paid to the Manhattan area, and Central Park. Taking one of the most well know places in the United States (and arguably the world) and turning it into a genuine survival horror buffet is no easy task, but early screenshots definitely prove how creepy Eden and Atari have made NYC. Taking liberties with the city at times Alone in the Dark presents a very detailed world with virtually no waiting times. Attention to detail is a big time concern for Alone in the Dark as they will not only take you around the upper parts of the park and city, but underneath it as well, bringing every dark and dingy aspect to life.

Game play will see a change in direction from previous titles in the series as well as many other titles in the survival horror genre. Game play will be action orientated and will see you, as Camby, do all kinds of stunts and tricks as you make your way through the plotline. The demo shown to journalists displayed Camby escaping from a burning building in Manhattan, and the goal was to get him out of the building safely. Using wires and other tricks Camby runs, swings, and does an assorted array of visually amazing tricks to accomplish his goal. Setting the tone for how game play will be, gamers should expect to be more involved and at the ready with Alone in the Dark as opposed to other survival horror games that can, and often do, slow the pace down as you explore and solve puzzles.

As for the story, while not much is known, it isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t even the main focus on the buzz surrounding Alone in the Dark. Rather the way that the story is told is what has people talking right now. Taking a cue from the realm of television, the people at Atari and Eden Studios are looking to flesh the story out like the way TV shows flesh the story out over a full seasonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s time. This will translate to each separate â┚¬Å”chapterâ┚¬Â of the game taking about one hour to complete tell, with a total time of somewhere around 10-15 hours (depending on your speed) to actually complete the game. While that does seem short, my guess it they are banking on the very uniqueness of the storytelling to draw gamers back to Alone in the Dark after their first run though to play again, just like fans of Lost (such as myself) re-watch the first two seasons again and again to constantly see what we may have missed in the first telling of the story.

Alone in the Dark is slated for tentative March 2007 release, but nothing has been set in stone yet. Still sometime during the upcoming year gamers will be treated to this title, and it certainly does look to be a very fresh look at the survival horror genre, and it just may establish a new way for games to communicate their stories to the gaming masses.