Alone in the Dark Review – History repeats itself

Reviewed March 20, 2024 on PC


PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


March 20, 2024


THQ Nordic


Pieces Interactive

Alone in the Dark should be quite the event of a release. Serving as a remake of the original 1992 horror game, the title often described as the ‘grand daddy’ of survival horror, this is an attempt at bringing the series into the modern age.  The only problem is the franchise has tried this once before with the incredibly poorly received 2008 reboot. Sixteen years later and sadly, Alone in the Dark has repeated history, failing to capture modern audiences. A swing and a miss.

Alone in the Dark is set in the gothic American South, and follows a pair by the name of Emily Hartwood and Edward Carnby. The two are taken to Decerto Manor, where Emily’s uncle Jeremy has disappeared. Carnby, a private detective, is eager to help get to the bottom of the mystery. However strange residents, monstrous creatures, portals to other worlds and flashes of the pair’s past stand in the way.

Early on in your adventure, Decerto Manor becomes more than meets the eye. You stumble upon a talisman that opens portals to different locations across the globe; a bayou swamp, an ancient library rich with tapestries and even a sunken temple in Egypt. All of these environments are in fact quite gorgeous and captivating, with immense lighting detail that really brings life into some scenes. The way an afternoon glow can seep through a window, illuminating the flawed, aging architecture of halls is really something else. It made me stop and take it all in for a moment, something I rarely do in survival horror games.

“…Not exactly what I’m after in survival horror.”

This does however let up when even playing with the game stored on an SSD and more than above the suggested PC specs I was experiencing texture pop-ins, lighting flickering and the like. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it is noticeable. Similarly, the character model fidelity is a little rough for both major and minor characters, having cast members stick out like a sore thumb from otherwise gorgeous environments.

If I might offer a suggestion for players, I recommend going into the Extras mode and turning on the letterbox video mode, so as to make the experience feel all that more cinematic. There are also other neat features in here such as changing the filter for the experience, listening to the Director’s Commentary and even playing as the original 1992 models. All nice and considerate additions. Though I digress, this letterbox mode is what I consider crucial. It’s not often you’ll be taken by Alone in the Dark. This mode aids just that little bit more in squeezing every drop of juice out of the experience.

While you’re unravelling the mystery of Jeremy, Decerto, these mysterious worlds and what it all means, you’re engaging in typical survival horror gameplay. In modern Resident Evil fashion, you’re combing through rooms for pieces that help you solve puzzles. You’re discovering hidden contraptions and doors that lead to other secrets. When you clear a room of all its items and puzzles, that room on the map is now coloured blue instead of pink, indicating you’re done there.

Gunplay is aptly punchy and responsive as you fire over the shoulder with a magnum pistol, a punchy shotgun and even a machine gun and flare gun later on. It’s just… none of this is entirely original or adding anything new. For the grand daddy of all survival horror games, I’d hope they’d at least improve on or distance themselves from the games in the genre that are actually thriving right now. This game has done the bare minimum in providing the essentials. When I’d worked my way through the third sliding puzzle Alone in the Dark had to offer or taken down another dozen of the generic rot-induced monsters, I couldn’t help but wonder the point of it all.

The closest I could find to an original offering is making throwable items opportunities rather than something that is craftable. Peppered around a given environment are Molotovs, bricks and the like. To use these, one must go to said location and strictly throw it in the vicinity of the item’s placement. This is a good idea on paper; instead of overloading players with consumables and items they must, in a panic, scan the environment and think on the fly. Or, they can use these to distract an enemy and then stealth around them. The problem with both of these choices is that stealth is incredibly drab and slow and though I love when games encourage me to adapt, combat never really makes you sweat all that match and you’re rarely lacking in bullets. Not exactly what I’m after in survival horror.

David Harbour of Stranger Things and Jodie Comer of Killing Eve fame capture the roles of Carnby and Hartwood this time around. With such star-studded names, you’d think the script would put the work in for the two. It doesn’t. Not really. You see, you can play as both Emily Hartwood and Edward Carnby. Alone in the Dark does the Resident Evil thing where there’s an A and B side campaign where a playthrough of each character will wield different results and scenes. However, where its likeness does it right is that the two stories tie together canonically, filling in the gaps on what, say, Leon Kennedy was doing while Claire was off doing her own thing. Here, you’re getting almost exactly the same scenes, with more or less exactly the same lines as Carnby and Hartwood do combat barks and react to the environment nearly identically.

There is one brief playable chapter within each of the character’s campaigns that gives you their backstory and damage. In Emily’s, you’re learning about the relationship with her partner. In Edward’s, it’s all about how a prior case he had coincidentally ties into the mystery surrounding Decerto Manor and the disappearance of Jeremy Hartwood. Though Carnby’s story is more compelling and at least a little bit surprising, both are plagued with the same generic puzzle and action set pieces, stringed together. A and B route scenarios to these types of games are also meant to further aid the greater plot. Though I have some more context for characterisation having spent the 10 or so hours it took to tackle both campaigns, it still feels like a lot is missing. It all feels like the bones of a final product.

Therein lies the problem: Alone in the Dark is a rambly, confused mess of a horror narrative. Several ideas are introduced, never fully explored, and then resolved. It feels like there are several missing scenes. The end comes along abruptly, resolving with a boss fight that comes from nowhere and makes little sense, giving tonal whiplash. There are peppers and hints of other forboding ongoings throughout the game, but they’re all vague passing mentions in overheard character dialogue or in readables. However, when you get to the end it’ll blindside you in an entirely uninteresting fashion, never being clever with its ambiguity.

Horror games are no strangers to reveling in the ambiguous. Take Silent Hill, for example, a series that explores the psyche of its characters. This new Alone in the Dark shares that with the series, but at least Silent Hill always had something to say. Alone in the Dark has little interesting to say about, well, anything.




  • Environments can be quite pretty
  • Extras options include welcome visual and technical flourishes


  • Waste of a star-studded cast
  • Confusing mess of a story even with two campaigns
  • Servicable at best survival horror gameplay
  • Small visual bugs

Alone in the Dark has fumbled once again, with this reimagining circling the drain to a pit of mediocrity. Though the game itself and the environments can be beautiful, it doesn’t take advantage of its star-studded cast nor does it tell a story that is remotely sensical or engaging. Always offering just the bare minimum of staples for the survival horror genre and nothing more, it’s sad to see the grand daddy of the genre be a shell of its former self. Maybe Alone in the Dark should remain exactly like its namesake.