Alone in the Dark review

by on March 19, 2024
Release Date

March 20, 2024


While many assume the birth of survival horror came with the original release of Resident Evil on the PS1, 1992’s Alone in the Dark got there first. This reimaging by Pieces Interactive is a love letter to the classic from Infogrames, celebrating the birth of the genre with some excellent acting, claustrophobic tone, and engaging story. While some of the combat elements became more of an annoyance and some technical issues that hampered my personal enjoyment, the Southern Gothic setting and detective noir feel of the story managed to keep me engaged throughout.

Alone in the Dark isn’t downright terrifying. There are many creatures you’ll bump into throughout the mansion and nightmarish realities you’ll find yourself in, but I was never outright scared. It’s more creepy than horrifying, relying on eeriness to create the tension instead of an abundance of gore. The reliance on the characters and story to draw players in as opposed to cheap jump scares and rivers of blood appealed to me, and a lot of that is thanks to the great job that both Jodie Comer and David Harbour do in the lead roles.

David Harbour plays the role of Edward Carnby, a private investigator who has been paid to uncover the whereabouts of a man called Jeremy Hartwood. Jodie Comer is the niece of Jeremy, Emily Hartwood, who has hired Edward in an effort to find out what has happened to him. Both characters offer something to the story, and although they don’t spend a lot of time together, there’s a clear chemistry that works well on screen. On their own, both Edward and Emily find themselves exploring the labyrinthian asylum filled with secrets, puzzles, hidden passageways, and multiple locked doors.

Each playthrough lasts around 7 hours, but there are plenty of reasons to complete the story as both Emily and Edward. As well as some different locations, their personalities are quite different, and while Emily has more of a personal connection, Edward has a narrative that relates to more than just the man he’s been paid to find. I’m being coy for a reason as I don’t want to ruin anything, but I was invested in the story as well as their individual journeys. While both Harbour and Comer play the roles very well, the rest of the cast seem somewhat stereotypical of the time and location that it’s set.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I found the accents and performances comical at times, and this sometimes dulled the horror of it all. I couldn’t help but think of that episode of The Office where Michael Scott gets everyone to take part in a murder mystery set in the deep South, where the accents were thick and the performances were a touch over-the-top. Perhaps the greatest character in all of Alone in the Dark is the asylum itself. Each room is filled with intricate details that help to give it an authentic tone, and there are plenty of notes that are all fully voiced to flesh out the history of the building and the people that inhabit it.

Along with unravelling the story, there are also a ton of collectibles known as lagniappes to find, giving players a reason to explore every nook and cranny of the asylum. A lot of the building remains closed off to both Edward and Emily until the story progresses, and there is a lot of back and forth as you run from room to room, wing to wing, working out where to go next. There’s plenty of help on offer via the map and objective screens, but if you prefer a challenge, hints can be turned off to give you a realistic detective story. Alone in the Dark is best enjoyed with the guidance, though.

You’ll spend much of your time trying to solve multiple puzzles. Some are simply about trial and error while others require a bit more thought and take place across different areas of the mansion. I was always impressed by the design of these puzzles, whether trying to find a combination to different safes or finding missing pieces of a puzzle that reveal an image of a town once rotated correctly. There’s also the mysterious talisman that helps to uncover certain locations where you need to go to, and most of the time its implementation is impeccably designed.

While the use of weapons aren’t the main focus of Alone in the Dark, sometimes you will need to shoot the creatures lurking in the shadows. Most of them never caused a problem, but there are some flying bugs that consistently annoyed me, especially in specific moments. They fly at you all the time, and it’s tricky to see them in the dark with no targeting system. There were also a few boss fights that I found a little dull and frustrating. Melee combat is also poor. You’ll find pipes, axes, and sledgehammers to use, but connecting with a moving target isn’t particularly smooth or exciting, and the weapon degradation aspect seems misplaced here.

Alone in the Dark is a good looking game, especially when environments change all of a sudden from the reality to nightmare. You never know when it is coming, and whenever these moments hit it’s always fun to see how the developer has manipulated the environments. The facial animations are pretty well done as well, with the motion capture for the characters helping to blur the lines between video game and tv show. The overall tone of the game is fantastic, and I loved the Southern charm of the world, and while the acting was excellent from Harbour and Comer, so too was the jazz soundtrack.

During chapter 2, I had a significant error where the sound completely cut off, and all I heard was a horrendous drill-like noise replacing every line of dialogue, piece of music, and sound effect. It lasted for a long time and despite restarting and reinstalling, the issue remained. I believe I resolved the problem from restarting my console, but these steps should never have been taken in order to get it to work. With many games, day one patches help to fix bugs pre-release, so hopefully nobody else will have to deal with the sound problems I had.

Alone in the Dark is faithful to the original, but it also brings a much-loved horror title into the present with a fantastic story, excellent acting, and puzzles that always keep you engaged. The asylum has been designed with a lot of care, and although you’ll find yourself moving from one end of the building to the next quite often, there are plenty of collectibles to find and notes to read. The soundtrack is wonderful and helps to bring that authenticity to the time period its set, and if it wasn’t for some awkward combat at times, I’d be singing its praises a lot more than I am.


Strong story
Great performances from David Harbour and Jodie Comer
Smart puzzles
Wonderful visuals


Frustrating combat
A lot of running from place to place

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Alone in the Dark is a faithful take on the original, with some smart puzzles and a charming Southern tone despite some frustrating combat.