Ahead of the Alone in the Dark Spotlight event on May 26, 2023, publisher THQ Nordic and developer Pieces Interactive offered a hands-off early look at Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood’s Southern Gothic horror adventure at Derceto manor. (David Harbour and Jodie Comer are the actors that will be giving life to Edward and Emily, respectively.) The new Alone in the Dark takes cues from modern industry standards established by games such as the recent Resident Evil remakes, and even seems to model its own two-protagonist structure in a similar manner to the recent Resident Evil 2 remake.
Creative Director and Writer Mikael Hedberg said that they used the original 1992 Alone in the Dark as foundation for this new entry in the series. Publisher THQ Nordic added that the re-imagination of the 1992 classic will include many callbacks and references to it, while also serving as a post-modern reflection on the nature of remakes. This could be seen during the presentation in the interactions between Emily and Edward when arriving to Derceto. Emily remarks that she dreamt about seeing her uncle Jeremy die in the same way as he did in the original game, but that the manor looked different. Meanwhile, Carnby feels like he’s been at Derceto before.
The setting and main conflict of the game seem to be similar to the original. Jeremy Hartwood is being haunted by the mysterious Dark Man, and he tries to find help at countryside hospital Derceto manor, located near the city of New Orleans. Players will choose between playable characters Edward and Emily. Depending on the choice, the story of the game will play out differently. Emily has a more personal connection to the plot from the beginning, and Edward slowly finds out his own role in the story. The performances by Comer and Harbour are very convincing. Whether accidental or not, Edward looked a bit campy at times, which works very well. He doesn’t feel like just a gruff wall of bricks, and horror stories can benefit from such range.
Aside from the classic haunted mansion mystery and the interpersonal drama of each character involved in it, the game will include new narrative themes and expand preexisting ones. Hedberg said that Jeremy surviving in this re-imagination and choosing to find help allows them to explore themes like those of predestination. There are hints of Jeremy, Edward, and Emily being too aware of their role in the narrative, and even remembering some things they shouldn’t. Hedberg added that they exhaustively combed through the original lore to expand on these old and new themes, and that the “cosmic” horror elements of the original game might appear in quite a literal sense, questioning whether destiny is ruled by something beyond control or understanding.
In terms of gameplay differences, each character will get to experience exclusive levels and parts of the mansion. It seems like a second playthrough with the other character will see items in the first run influence the second one, somewhat similar to Resident Evil 2. The characters will be controlled with a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective that is standard for survival horrors nowadays. Edward and Emily can carry several weapons like revolvers and shotguns. Gunplay looks weighty and satisfying, with guns having a lot of kick to them. Meanwhile, melee combat looks clunky and slow, and seems like a last resort when out of ammo. Players will also be able to find environmental elements like bottles of alcohol to damage enemies and light them on fire. Exploration and detective-work will be key in advancing through the game as well, with the game allowing players to customize the difficulty of finding clues and solving puzzles.
All in all, the Alone in the Dark re-imagining is shaping up to be a game informed by its predecessor, and by its horror contemporaries. And while the developers have revealed many new interesting details, and established a strong link to the original 1992 Alone in the Dark, the story of this new entry still seems shrouded in mystery. Whether the game will be able to compete with the many entries in the current survival horror revival and deliver on its themes is a matter of waiting and seeing for ourselves.
Alone in the Dark will appear on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows PC on October 25, 2023. The Grace in the Dark gamescom and TGS 2022 demo is immediately available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.