XBOX REVIEW | Alone in the Dark

XBOX REVIEW | Alone in the Dark

“The exploration of the manor is quite possibly my favorite part of Alone in the Dark.”

Alone in the Dark as a series has always been close to my heart. Back when I was still rocking a PlayStation 1, Alone in the Dark – The New Nightmare was my go-to game. I found it more entertaining than Resident Evil at the time, with its more unique creature design, better story, and overall end-game sequence. The series only grew on me from there with the PS2 port, and the Xbox 360 re-imagining, which to this day, still has some of the best practical effects I have seen. The franchise even spawned two movies. Despite the latter games and movies not performing well at all, I finally accepted that Alone in the Dark was done. Imagine my surprise when I then read a few years back that THQ Nordic & Pieces Interactive will be bringing the series back in 2024. Major hype. Finally, it is here, and we can all experience a reimagining of Alone in the Dark which stars David Harbour and Jodie Comer as the leading roles. But does Alone in the Dark bring back the glory days of the original offerings, or should it have stayed in the dark?

ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on X!

DeveloperPieces Interactive
PublisherTHQ Nordic

Spooky scary skeletons

Things I liked!

  • The graphics | Alone in the Dark is by far one of the most impressive-looking games I have played this year. Graphically, it is a very intense-looking game with detail oozing in every corner of the room, including the outside areas. What the team has managed to do is very impressive. The tech used in Unreal Engine is hard at work here with the actor’s likeness being portrayed on screen too. Emotions are captured nicely and they fit well in the setting. The team has done a lot of research on the setting and era of the game, and this translates well overall. Thick heavy god rays and strong use of post-processing with lights and shadows create a moody atmospheric game from the moment you step inside the manor. My favourite area was the mezzanine floor which you can see in the image below. The detail is just staggering, and on a 4K TV in quality mode, it’s something special.
  • The Music | The music in Alone in the Dark is great. The Derceto Manor area is usually quiet though so you can hear all of the wind howling at the windows, the creaks of the floorboards as you walk. But when you enter these dream worlds, you are greeted with some of the most tension-building horror music I have heard. It’s a good combination of music from the south and infused with the modern take on horror. There will be times when you walk slowly around corners because of the dread that builds up with its pulsing tones and hard beats.

  • Derceto Manor | Like most remakes we have had over the last 5 years, the main attraction is the setting in which our heroes find themselves. With Leon, it was the remastered R.P.D Station, and here the Derceto Manor is no different. Alone in the Dark is a reimagining of the very first game created in 1992. Back then, it was much smaller in scale, and we started in the attic. Here, we start from behind the house as we make our way inside. From the very beginning, it is clear how big this place is going to be as you have to make your way through a garage, a kitchen, a conservatory, and a garden, before finally reaching the front door to let your partner in. I don’t want to spoil anything because the exploration of the manor is quite possibly my favorite part of Alone in the Dark. Everything feels so alive, from the tiniest bedroom to the grandest of halls. The entire construction of the manor is the star of the show.

  • The Acting | It has been no secret that Alone in the Dark hired two prolific actors to fill the roles of the main characters. It’s been one of the main uses of their marketing campaign. To their credit, it’s worked well. Both David Harbour and Jodie Comer do excellent jobs at portraying their characters with excellent voice acting and motion capture. The cutscenes are great. They look and sound fantastic with some very movie-inspired scenes that allow the actors to immerse themselves in the role. Despite them spending most of the time apart in the game, they do get to interact with other characters quite often, which compliments the supporting character role nicely. Additional characters like Grace (the little girl) provide our character with more clues about what is going on at Derceto Manor, without fully giving away the plot, nudging us closer towards our end goal. The supporting cast does a great job at being just creepy enough to know something isn’t right, but not too much for us to want to run away from them entirely.

  • Developer Commentary | Alone in the Dark comes with a developer commentary mode which I highly recommend activating after your first playthrough. There isn’t too much to say here, but what it does, is allow you to interact with certain aspects of the game at certain points and listen to the choices the team made and how they went about creating this specific part of the game. It’s very interesting stuff, especially if you are into game design. I wish more dev teams implemented this option.

  • The Story | I have to choose my words carefully here since I can’t give anything away. The story in Alone in the Dark is strong. It’s one of its strongest points. In a nutshell, Emily hires Private Investigator Edward Carnby to accompany her to Louisiana as she has received a letter from her Uncle that makes her believe he is in danger. Upon arriving it appears her Uncle is lost and the staff at Derceto Manor do not know where he has gone. What quickly transpires is a tale of voodoo, pacts with the devil, and a cover-up that you must untangle from inside Derceto Manor and the mind of one of its patients. There are a few iconic twists and turns throughout the game that piece the story together properly. But for now, I will leave it at that.

The mezzanine floor is just stunning

Neither good nor bad

  • Transitions | At certain key points in Alone in the Dark you will transition to the other world, or dream world as it is sometimes referenced. This is a nice little way of removing you from reality as you know it and putting you into some of the creepy locations you’ve seen in the trailer, and also from previous games. However, it is how the game goes about it that makes it less interesting. I will use Silent Hill as an example here. During the siren blast, the world around you will begin to strip away revealing the underworld of Silent Hill. This is all done in real time without cuts, with the walls peeling away as it happens. It looks cool, it’s seamless, and doesn’t break any immersion. Alone in the Dark, however, handles this by cutting to a black screen for a second or two before coming back and having the setting change. It’s harsh, looks a little janky at times, and pulls you out of the game. It makes you question how and why this has happened. Sometimes it makes logical sense to do it, for example when the lights all turn off and it goes black, and when they come on you are somewhere else. But far too many times the transitions simply don’t work in its favor.
  • Enemy Variation | It doesn’t take too long before you see three of the main enemies of Alone in the Dark. The first of which is a swamp-looking creature that looks like it’s covered in weeds and black sticky water. They remind me a lot of the creatures from Resident Evil 7. The next are skeleton-looking creatures that still retain some meat on their bones (haha). They move fast and will hit hard. We also have the walking maggot carrier that will vomit in your direction leaving you to dodge its attacks by pressing B. Some dog-like creatures bury themselves underground and pop up and hit you and some flying creatures that swoop down and hit you from all directions. I would say the pacing of these creatures needed to be better because it feels like you see them all quite quickly. There are two bosses in the game as well which I will talk about more below.

  • Puzzle Solving | I understand that not everyone likes puzzles, but I feel like the puzzle system in Alone in the Dark could have been better. Most of the time if you need an item to unlock a door, it is either in the same room or it is extremely close by. This takes the fun out of having multi-puzzle scenarios where you need to combine A with B to create C and so forth. I can overlook the key issue most times, but there is a clear lack of direction when it comes to the puzzles. For the most part, you come equipped with a book that you find in Emily’s Uncle’s room, called the commonplace book. Inside it contains a lot of information based on certain things within the world. These things are usually the puzzles. Because of this, if there is a puzzle that doesn’t seem straightforward, your character of choice will usually mutter a few words about checking the book, letting you know that your solution can probably be found there. It is worth noting that there is also an option from the settings menu to change to Old School, where you aren’t given any clues, but for me, this didn’t really change anything, and most solutions can still be found extremely close by or from inside the commonplace book.

Amazing lighting and post-processing effects bring these creatures to life

Things I disliked!

  • Sound Effects | I know I spoke about sound effects a little under the music tab, but there are some glaring issues with the major sound effects that I think I need to discuss. The biggest one that you will be faced with is almost always present and I have no idea how this is happening. I work in Unreal Engine myself and I have never seen anything quite like this. Upon firing your gun, and this goes for any gun in the game, the sound effect is so delayed it plays around 1 to 2 seconds after pulling the trigger, making your guns silent. Eventually, it catches up with itself, but it is prevalent at every level, all of the time. Stop shooting for a few seconds and the problem comes back. The only thing I can think of here is that the sound is being spawned as opposed to just playing each shot which is causing the delay. The same thing goes for stinger sounds when something creepy happens. It can be very mismatched with the event making the scare effect useless. The other area where this happens is with the environmental weapons and melee. Hitting an enemy with your melee weapon also produces delayed sounds along with the throwables smashing as well. It’s annoying and if this were my game, I would want this fixed as soon as possible.
  • Opposite Characters | Like the previous Alone in the Dark games, you can choose to play as either Edward or the female counterpart character. These games had different events or situations play out before you making a second playthrough a must to get the full picture. Sadly, after starting a second playthrough it appears as though this isn’t the case with Emily. You start in the same location but just reverse the roles. Leon and Claire both had different starting locations, met different characters, and had different puzzles to solve, but here, there are only slight changes to what happens regarding who suffers from delusion. Again, I can’t go into too much detail as it directly conflicts with the story, but if you are expecting major changes and differences like in Resident Evil, I’m sorry to say you will be disappointed.

  • Bugs & Glitches | Since this is a pre-release copy of the game, please take this with a pinch of salt as these may be ironed out by release, but there were a lot of issues that either broke my game entirely or forced me to reload. The biggest of the bunch was hard crashes. After almost each chapter the game would crash back to the Xbox dashboard. This would mean that I needed to repeat the last part before retrying to load the new chapter. This would normally be okay the second time round but it did cause me to save manually more frequently. This leads me to the big issue. Manual saving also caused big crashes, some of which caused corruption to my saves forcing me to restart the entire game. Thankfully this only happened once, and fairly early on so I only had to completely redo the first two chapters which are pretty short. Stuff like this though shouldn’t be happening especially on a version that states 1.2.1 which would indicate a post-1.0 full version release. Other major issues were getting stuck inside objects, scenery, and enemies. Since I couldn’t wriggle out of these it meant I had to reload my game more than a handful of times each session. It’s a shame because there are quite a few areas that this happened in and it appears that nowhere inside Derceto Manor, or the Dreamworlds are safe from this.

  • Boss Fights | There are two bosses to fight throughout the entire game. One is a humanoid figure that mutates a little but offers nothing in terms of a unique fight, and the final boss is a lot more visually impressive but again, only offers a slight variation in terms of fighting. There are no gimmicks added, no environmental hazards to use to your advantage, and even though some people may not mind, I think it goes to show that given how many remakes we have had now over the years and how they have created big set pieces and made boss encounters staples of the game, it is sad to see that Alone in the Dark hasn’t been given the same treatment.

  • Quality Mode | For something that is called quality mode it sure does a bad job at actually making a difference. While something is going on behind the scenes, the quality mode does nothing major with the final presentation of the game apart from making the frame rate a constant sub-30fps experience. I managed to record over a 2-hour playthrough that the game’s average came in at 23fps, with its lowest coming in at 16fps. The game does come with a performance mode, and my advice is to stick with that one entirely. For the most part, it is a solid 60fps but can drop down to mid-40s when fighting more monsters. As far as I’m concerned, there was no need for a quality mode at all. We shall see what this adds to post-launch.

How long did I play the review before publishing? 12 hours
How long to beat the story? 8 hours
How many Achievements did I earn before publishing? 18
How long to achieve 1000G | 16 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Resident Evil, Silent Hill,


60/100 ⭐ Alone in the Dark is back, but ultimately falls short of the expectations I had set for it. Is that my fault? Possibly, but with so many glaring issues it’s hard to deny that things could have gone better. Graphically Alone in the Dark is impressive and brings the sleepy Louisiana setting to life with its clear references to Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The psychological horror story is a good fit for the setting and I look forward to following its inevitable updates as they come in post-launch for another playthrough.