There aren't many mainstream film adaptations of Lovecraft's work (although a Guillermo del Toro adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness is never too far from the rumour mill door), and even fewer console games based on his books. There was The Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth for the original Xbox...but there are few other console titles I can think of that specifically reference Lovecraftian horror and the particular brand of ancient, eldritch terror associated with his novels. There is one game on the Dreamcast however, that whilst not being truly based on a Lovecraft tale, takes lots of cues and plot points from his canon. There are interdimensional monsters, ancient other-worldly horrors, tales of madness and an overwhelming sense of dread that permeates every location - a dread that cannot be pinned on one particular source. That game is Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare.
Of course, things get a little bit more complicated when the plane they are travelling in is sabotaged by creatures unknown and the protagonists are forced to bail out. Naturally, they are separated and this is where the game begins - you can choose to play as either Carnby or Aline, and they each start from a different location on Shadow Island, each with a different set of initial equipment items and with a different style of game. Their paths cross on multiple occasions throughout the game, and they do stay in contact throughout via two-way radio. Rather than simply represent 'easy' or 'hard' styles of play, as in the original Resident Evil, both characters games differ significantly in terms of gameplay - Carnby's game is more of a shooter, while Aline's adventure focuses more on puzzle solving. That's not to say there is no gunplay at all in Aline's game, but if you want all-out shooting, then Carnby's the best character to go for initially.
"The enigmas of the adventure are so incorporated with the story that if you reveal the story, you reveal the game."
- Antoine Villette, DarkWorks CEO speaking to EDGE Magazine, Feb 2000
|The torch is your best friend|
It is true that Alone In The Dark features a mansion, but for me the comparisons to Resident Evil should really end there. There are other mechanics at play in DarkWorks' game that give it an individuality that should be recognised - the use of light and darkness is a massive part of the combat system and you are encouraged to use your torch to beat back the creatures stalking you from the shadows. Likewise, most of the weaponry employs ammunition that will create flashes of light (magnesium bullets, anyone?) as a means of lethality. This also bleeds into the control method which enables you to freely move and also shine your torch around simultaneously. It can be a little cumbersome on a Dreamcast joypad that simply didn't have dual analogue sticks, but it's a nice idea nonetheless. As you can appreciate with the style of game, you do encounter the usual stock puzzles such as locks that need to be opened with combinations that you'll find in old notebooks, and ornaments that need to be pushed around to open hidden doors, but there are also some nice scare tactics used - for instance when creatures flash in and out of existence in time with cracks of lightning and thunder, and the sound design is masterful - lots of howling wind and echoing footsteps on floorboards.
"There have always been movies in the horror genre and there will always be horror games. Fear is one of the most powerful emotions you can feel. There is love and fear - and what else is there?"
- Guillaume Gouraud, DarkWorks Art Director speaking to EDGE Magazine, Feb 2000
|Some of the locations are stunningly rendered|