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Yahtzee Talks the Tragic Flaws of Alone in the Dark

| 11 Mar 2010 15:07
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The modern remake of Alone in the Dark was by no means a good game - but as Yahtzee Croshaw details, the ideas were there to make a great one.

If you've watched Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation review of 2008's Alone in the Dark, you know this: He doesn't think it's a very good game. In fact, he doesn't think it's even an average game. But despite recognizing that Alone in the Dark is a fundamentally broken game on a number of levels, Yahtzee says he keeps coming back to it as an example of a title that could have been great - as he relates in issue 244 of The Escapist.

The Story

Alone in the Dark has a very effective opening. You wake up groggy and bleary-eyed, and you have to blink with the R3 button in order to make out your surroundings, which I still think is one of the most interesting uses of that button in gaming. Meanwhile, a bunch of strange men threaten you with guns and talk about stuff you don't understand before some mysterious demonic force starts tearing the building apart. Your escort is apparently eaten by the plastering, and you're left to stumble, disoriented and blind, through the building's maintenance tunnels until you come across a mirror and see ... a stranger. With a big fat seam in his face.

"Wow," I thought after the intro. "That was cool. I wonder why so many people hate this game."

Unfortunately: It didn't take long to answer that question. A story is only as good as its pacing, and when you're getting a rake in the face at every turn from physics glitches, stupid grind quests and good-old-fashioned cheap deaths, it's hard to keep caring about the fate of Mr. Seamy Face, especially when the plot turns out to be about Lucifer rising to destroy the world. Why can't Lucifer ever rise for some other reason, like to check on his stock portfolio?

To read more about why one sharp-tongued Brit thinks Alone in the Dark just missed greatness (and plummeted off a cliff on the way to "bad"), read "The Tragedy of Alone in the Dark" in Issue 244 of The Escapist.

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