It’s been a while since famed paranormal investigator Edward Carnby appeared in an Alone in the Dark game. The last entry in the series was the much-maligned Alone in the Dark: Illumination, released in 2015. That game featured Theodore “Ted” Carnby, a direct descendant of Edward Carnby, though it’s implied that he’s actually the original Carnby living under an assumed identity, still alive in the modern era due to the events of 2008’s Alone in the Dark game.
Now, after a hiatus of nearly ten years, Edward Carnby and the series that popularized the survival horror genre are planning their triumphant return to PC and consoles with a brand new reboot simply titled Alone in the Dark, which resets the timeline and promises to be a love letter to the ground-breaking original survival horror classic.
During a recent press preview last week presented by publisher THQ Nordic and developer Pieces Interactive, Executive Producer Michael Paeck and Writer/Director Mikael Hedberg (Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Soma) shared a wealth of new info on the upcoming survival horror adventure game, including details about its story, cast, gameplay features, and release date.
Alone in the Dark combines psychological horror with the Southern Gothic subgenre in a reimagination of the classic survival horror game from 1992.
This modern homage to the ground-breaking original is being developed in Unreal Engine 4 and lets you experience a haunting story through the eyes of one of two protagonists. Players can choose to play as either Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood and explore their environments, fight monsters, solve puzzles, and uncover the sinister darkness that lurks within the walls of Derceto Manor. The core of the game is the haunted mansion at the center of it all, and the game is being designed with the explicit goal of exploiting players’ fears of being trapped inside a small space.
“The way that we reimagined the game was by looking at the original. It feels like we’ve been cultivating a seed that was planted thirty years ago and it has now grown into something even more dark and sinister.”
– Writer/director Mikael Hedberg
Discovering that her uncle has gone missing, Emily Hartwood goes looking for him with the help of private investigator Edward Carnby. Arriving at Derceto Manor, a home for the mentally fatigued, they encounter strange residents, portals to nightmarish worlds, dangerous monsters, and ultimately a plot of rising evil and its followers. As the pair are drawn deeper into this world, they will face off with a sinister presence known as the Dark Man.
Real or not, something is definitely corrupting the mind of Jeremy Hartwood. Something very, very dangerous.
During the press event, the developers revealed that big-name actors David Harbour (Stranger Things, Violent Night) and Jodie Comer (The Last Duel, Prima Facie) will take on the roles of Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood, respectively.
While many other games go more into the “terror” part of survival horror, the developer sees themselves more in the tradition of psychological horror. They said they consider themselves lucky to have David Harbour and Jodie Comer on board, whose spellbinding performances will convince everybody who’s here for the story experience.
“It maintains some of that weirdness of the old games, but it had an updated slickness to it that I liked as well.”
– David Harbour
You will get to see exclusive levels and different parts of the mansion and the people at Derceto will react differently depending on which character you choose, so players are encouraged you play both campaigns in order to experience the game’s full story.
If you go for a second playthrough with the other characters, there will be slight influences in your game depending on which items you found in your first playthrough.
The extent to which the developers at Pieces Interactive have stayed faithful to the source material here is truly impressive. The writer/director of the game, Mikael Hedberg, even met with the creator of the original 1992 game, Frédérick Raynal, to pick his brain about the nuts and bolts of how it was developed and to get feedback on the new title.
“With all the remakes going on today, you are never sure what you get at the end. I think Mikael and the team at Pieces did a great job preserving the core feeling of the game. They even went further than everything I could expect thirty years ago. I feel the franchise is in good hands now and I can’t wait to play the full game.”
– Frédérick Raynal
When asked what separates their upcoming title from its competitors, the team said that since Alone in the Dark actually predates all other popular survival horror franchises, its strength lies in the fact that it established most of the genre’s rules and traditions.
The developers believe that grounding in the original game is also what makes their re-imagination (“love letter to the original”) so interesting and unique.
To this end, they are conserving the classic survival horror elements of (scary) exploration, challenging puzzles, fraught combat, and a deep story (in the best tradition of Silent Hill and earlier Resident Evil games) with the presentation of a contemporary 3rd-person game.
In addition to the story and characters, gameplay elements like combat and exploration have also received an overhaul. The gameplay shown in the showcase video switched between exploration, combat, puzzles, and interactions with other characters.
The game takes advantage of a variety of atmospheric and compelling settings including the claustrophobic interiors of the manor and its ominous grounds, the surrounding town, murky sewer, greenhouse, oil derricks, and the treacherous swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, among others.
Combat in Alone in the Dark is a mix of firearms and melee weapons, and the video shows both Carnby and Emily utilizing handguns, shotguns, axes, and Molotov cocktails to take out a grisly assortment of monstrous enemies. Even if you run out of bullets, players still have a way to defend themselves.
Throughout the game, you will need to gather clues in order to solve some interesting puzzles. Depending on how much help you need, players will have the option to customize the level of difficulty for puzzles and exploration.
The way the music is being created for the game is also noteworthy. The developers refer to the musical style they’re using in the game as “Doom Jazz.”
“There’s a huge volcanic mountain of reverb with the drums and screaming saxophones, to this explosion of hair-raising horror and big chaos.”
– Jason Köhnen
Sound designer & composer Árni Bergur Zoëga along with Doom Jazz legend Jason Köhnen have crafted a soundtrack that, just like the game itself, is inspired by noir films and noir detectives, and is one of the reasons why this musical direction fits the game so well.
If you pre-order the game, you’ll get the “Derceto 1992 Costume Pack DLC” which features a playable skin of the polygonal 3D model of Carnby from the original game.
There will also be a digital deluxe version of the game that includes a vintage horror filter pack that lets you play the game in a sepia tone, black and white, and other weird color schemes, a digital artbook, and an exclusive director’s commentary mode from writer/director Mikael Hedberg and special guest Frédérick Raynal in the form of audio logs.
THQ Nordic says they’re currently looking into making a physical Collector’s Edition of the game and will have more information in the near future.
In addition to the pre-order bonuses, there will also be a special Prologue gameplay demo that will give players a first glimpse into the atmosphere, mood, and story of the full game. It’s set a few weeks before the main game and features a little girl named Grace Saunders. You play as her walking around Derceto and trying to post a letter.
Overall this was a very effective and well-done presentation. I was blown away by everything from the cast reveals and gameplay, to how close to the developers are sticking to the classic source material. I was already pumped to play the game before, but now I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on it. Even better – it’s releasing just in time for Halloween! I can’t think of a better horror game to play during the spooky season.
Be sure to check out a complete breakdown of all the game’s features in the special spotlight video below.