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Alone in the Dark was the progenitor of the Survival Horror genre in 1992. It was also the first game to feature 3D polygon characters over fixed 2D backgrounds, allowing for cinematic camera angles. Featuring a mix of combat, puzzle-solving, inventory management, and exploration, the game was well-received and made a rather large impression at the time. Set in the 1920's, the game had players take the role of private detective Edward Carnby or socialite Emily Hartwood, who were locked in the haunted mansion of Derceto, searching for a way out while battling zombies, monsters, and a lurking evil inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Alone in the Dark 2 was more linear and combat-oriented, featuring a tommygun-wielding Edward Carnby facing off against 1930's mobsters led by the villainous One-Eyed Jack to rescue kidnapped child Grace Saunders. As it turns out, Jack and his gang are in fact immortal pirates, the crew of the Flying Dutchmen, who made a pact with witch Elizabeth Jarret and perform regular human sacrifices to retain their life and youth. There were also a few stealth segments where players took the role of Grace Saunders and had to evade the mobsters searching for her.
Alone in the Dark 3 took place in an abandoned Wild West ghost town, with Carnby attempting to save Emily Hartwood (who was filming a western film along with a film crew in the deserted town), who has inadvertantly awakened the ghosts of the town's evil inhabitants, led by prospector Jebediah Stone. Although still linear, the game featured a more balanced mix of combat and puzzle-solving.
Jack in the Dark was a short free PC game released in 1994 using the then-current Alone in the Dark engine. Using all of the standard Alone in the Dark mechanics, the small Grace Saunders, dressed as a witch for Halloween, must escape a haunted toy shop. A Let's Play of the game shows its charm.
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare was a re-imagining of the series. Taking place in modern times, the game featured a new protagonist (also named Edward Carnby. No relation.), who teams up with linguistic expert Aline Cedrac to unravel the mystery of Shadow Island and its reclusive inhabitants, the Morton family. This ultimately puts them into a battle against the Creatures of Darkness, reptilian shadow monsters originating from an underground underworld known as the World of Darkness. The game featured many control, gameplay, and presentation elements taken straight out of the playbook of Resident Evil. It's most unique feature was the use of the flashlight to reveal hidden details of the environment, as well as to drive back some of the light-sensitive monsters.
The film Alone in The Dark did borrow a few bits from The New Nightmare but had little else to do with the games that came out before it.
Although not an Alone in the Dark game per se, Cold Fear was originally supposed to be Alone in the Dark 5. Although the end product ultimately had nothing to do with the series, it can still be considered Alone in the Dark AT SEA.
In 2008, a new game in the series was released, rebooting the franchise. Known simply as Alone in the Dark, the game features the original Edward Carnby from the original games, waking up in modern day New York City alive, unaged, and with a major case of amnesia just in time to witness living fissures wreck the city and turn many of its inhabitants into vicious monsters. Taking place in Central Park, the game was a Gameplay Roulette featuring elements of First Person Shooters, 3rd Person Platformers, Driving Games, Beat Em Ups, etc. It also borrowed quite a bit from Boll's film; this was not prudent.
The series contains examples of:
- Action Commands - Used in the 2008 Alone in the Dark to try and escape if you get eaten by a fissure.
- Action Survivor - Carnby and Hartwood were like this in the original Alone in the Dark. By the sequels, Carnby has become a Badass Normal paranormal investigator, an occupation shared by the new Edward Carnby from The New Nightmare.
- And I Must Scream - Captain Pregtz from the first game was turned into a tree and has lived in an underground city for 300 years. Subverted in that he still has servants waiting on him hand end foot. Er, branch and root. Jack in the Dark, despite being a kids game, features sentient toys living in an abandonned toy store for years. Despite this, they don't seem to mind much.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: The ending(s) of Ai TD 2008. "I'm the lightbringer! I'm the fucking universe!"
- Apocalyptic Log - Jeremy Hartwood's diary in the first game.
- Arbitrary Equipment Restriction - During the 2008 game, during a light based puzzle section near the end of the story, the flashlight you have throughout the entire game suddenly becomes unusable until after the puzzle is solved.
- Attack Its Weak Point - All of the humanoid enemies in the 2008 game can only be killed by igniting the fissures on their bodies.
- Back From the Dead - The members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad in Alone in the Dark 2 will resurrect an hour or so after being killed, unless you physically destroy their contract with the Devil first. In Alone in the Dark 3, Carnby himself comes back from the dead (thanks to a little Native American magic) after being shot by the Big Bad. In fact, the sight of Carnby digging his way out of his own grave even scares the undead skeleton-arm zombie sheriff member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad so much he drops his gun and runs away.
- Badass Longcoat: Edward has one in The New Nightmare.
- Badass Normal - Edward Carnby and Emily Hartwood are among the few Survival Horror protagonists able to punch zombies to death with their bare hands.
- Black Cloak - The human villain Crowley and his men in the 2008 Alone in the Dark.
- California Collapse: The Big Bad's in Alone in the Dark 3 wants to use a nuclear bomb to crack the San Andreas fault and send California into the ocean.
- Climax Boss - The swordfight against the pirate ghost in the original Alone in the Dark. The battle against the huge Museum Beast about 1/2th of the way through the 2008 Alone in the Dark (complete with awesome battle music - "End to a Prelude" on the official soundtrack).
- Closed Circle - In the original game, trying to exit the mansion via the front door reveals the exterior to be an otherdimensional void which promptly eats you.
- Continuity Nod - The Big Bad of Alone in the Dark 3 is revealed to be the child of the Big Bad from the original Alone in the Dark and The Dragon from Alone in the Dark 2. Also, one of the villains in The New Nightmare is named De Certo, after the haunted mansion in the original game.
- All 3 games in the original trilogy as well as The New Nightmare feature an "unseen being watching your character through the window" scene at the beginning of the game.
- Cosmic Horror Story - A major element of the franchise's flavour, most prevalent in the fourth and first game, the latter of which containing many monsters taken directly from the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Depth Deception - A few areas in the original trilogy have pathways concealed by walls that appear to come together but are actually separate walls.
- Drop in Nemesis - Many puzzles throughout the original trilogy will have something appear to quickly and unceremoniously kill you if you don't do them properly or quick enough.
- Franchise Killer - The 2008 game was most likely this, even a rerelease that fixes quite a few of the bugs probably wasn't able to save it.
- Franchise Zombie - Both games after the original trilogy.
- Gainax Ending - The endings to the 2008 game.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality - Despite following you around for a good portion of the game, Sarah Flores in the 2008 Alone in the Dark is unkillable, and won't even be targeted by monsters.
- She does vanish into nothingness if you die and respawn, but she'll either teleport at the destination or just be ignored until the next gameplay segment. It's mostly one of the game's many glitches.
- Game Breaking Bug - 2008 Alone in the Dark seem to be made of these. One of the biggest problems with the much-hated 59th Street Scrappy Level is that your vehicle can and will get stuck into invisible walls. The rest of the game doesn't get much better; driving never outgrows the invisible walls, which also invade jumping puzzles, while combat is helplessly random due to both the accuracy required (enemies have only specific weak spots) and the problematic collision detection.
- Gameplay Roulette - The 2008 Alone in the Dark features so many different gameplay genres, it's hard to categorize exactly what the "main" gameplay genre of the game is.
- Grand Theft Me - Ezechiel Pregzt of the first game is trying to find a new body to inhabit, and has been luring people to Derceto to that end.
- Have a Nice Death - In Alone In The Dark 2. Just shoot a gun in a room full of gunpowder on the pirate ship. You'll be treated to one hell of an explosion.
- Hey, It's That Voice! - In the 2008 reboot, Carnby is voiced by James McCaffrey, the voice of Max Payne.
- Hive Mind - All the monsters in the 2008 Alone in the Dark are merely puppets controlled by a single entity, Lucifer.
- Hyperactive Metabolism - The main source of health replenishment in the original trilogy came in the form of whisky-filled hipflasks. Considering the sheer amount of booze in the second and third games, it's a wonder Carnby was able to stand upright, let alone aim a gun.
- I Love Nuclear Power - Seen, strangely, in the wild west-themed Alone in the Dark 3. It's revealed that the Big Bad discovered uranium back in the 19th century, used it to create monsterous mutants, and was planning to build a nuclear bomb to crack the San Andreas fault and sink California into the ocean.
- Implacable Man - The mutated Howard Morton in The New Nightmare. Also a Recurring Boss.
- Infinite Flashlight - Seen in Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, where the flashlight was a core element of gameplay. Averted in the 2008 Alone in the Dark, where the flashlight had to be periodically reloaded with fresh batteries.
- Invincible Minor Minion - The Elwood Brothers in Alone in the Dark 3, a pair of unkillable gunslingers whose sole purpose was to railroad you through the town of Slaughter Gulch by killing you if you tried to go somewhere the developers didn't want you to.
- It's a Small Net After All - In the 2008 Alone in the Dark, when asking a doctor to check his online database, the first and only result that comes up for "Edward Carnby" is someone who disappeared in 1938. It's not that uncommon a name...
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: A puzzle in the second game.
- Kill It with Fire - The main premise of the 2008 Alone in the Dark. All the major monsters can only be permenantly killed with fire. Fortunately, you can shoot flaming bullets, toss molotov cocktails, attack with aerosol spray flamethrowers, or simply set a chair or baseball bat on fire then whack monsters with it.
- This is also the method by which the Big Bad of the original Alone in the Dark is finally dispatched.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia - Carnby's condition in the 2008 Alone in the Dark.
- Late to the Party - Alone in the Dark 3 has Carnby arriving shortly after ghosts have wiped out the film crew visiting a wild west ghost town. Central Park in the 2008 Alone in the Dark is also like this, as you get there after Lucifer has already trashed the place.
- Lightning Reveal: A lightning flash in one of the outside areas in The New Nightmare shows a massive horde of ghoulish humans surrounding you for an instant. It's an early prelude to when you return to the location later and encounter just such a force, but thankfully you happen to have found a gun that fires emulsified light.
- MacGyvering - In the 2008 Alone in the Dark, you can combine various inventory items for assorted effects. I.e., taping a box of bullets to a fuel can to make a stronger bomb, or pouring fuel onto your gun's bullets to shoot flaming bullets.
- Magical Native American - The shaman who helps Edward in Alone in the Dark 3, as well as Edenshaw in Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare.
- Mind Screw - both finales to the 2008 Alone in the Dark. Sheesh.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - The worse of two endings to AITD '08, if you kill Sara, Lucifer takes control of you instead, becoming even more powerful than otherwise.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot - Alone in the Dark 2 featured zombie pirate mobsters as the game's enemies (one member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad was even a zombie pirate ninja!). In Alone in the Dark 3, you fought zombie cowboys, and during a short section of the game, zombie cowboy werewolves.
- Obvious Beta - The 2008 game, most obvious in the 360 version.
- Ominous Latin Chanting - Prominent in the soundtrack to AITD 2008.
- One-Winged Angel - In The New Nightmare, both of the Morton brothers undergo a monsterous transformation to become the game's final bosses. Alan Morton just turns purple and grows to about 8 feet tall, whereas Obed Morton turns into a large, two-headed, jet-black bipedal reptilian monster.
- Paranormal Investigation - Carnby is like this in the second, third, and fourth games in the series. In the first game, he's a regular detective (who mostly makes a living following cheating husbands), and in the fifth game he's got amnesia.
- Plot Tumor - burning the Evil Roots (of an Evil Tree, of course) in the 2008 game. Padding at its best.
- A nod to the original game, where ths Final Boss is an evil tree that must be burned.
- Pop Star Composer: Stewart Copeland wrote the credits song for The New Nightmare.
- Powered Armor - Seen, strangely, in the wild west-based Alone in the Dark 3. The Big Bad dons a primitive suit of Powered Armor (which even has an Arm Cannon!) to fight you in the final battle.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: An instrumental version of "Vesti La Giubba" from Pagliacci is played in the "Game Over" screen when Our Hero Is Dead in Alone in the Dark 2.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad - the Big Bads of Alone in the Dark 2 and Alone in the Dark 3 both have a band of several colorful minions whom you fight throughout the games.
- Save Game Limits: Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare required a Charm of Saving to save the game. There was a scenario early on which allowed the player to get as many Charms of Saving as desired, though.
- The original 1992 one only let you have one save. If you made another it replaced the previous one. Woe unto you if you make a mistake rendering the game unwinnable and then save.
- Sheathe Your Sword - Carnby's zombie double in 3 can only be defeated by dropping your gun and approaching it unarmed.
- Solve the Soup Cans - Done in the original trilogy, and the New Nightmare.
- Sprite Polygon Mix - The original Alone in the Dark started this trend.
- Survival Horror - The game that started it all.
- Swords Akimbo - This is the (rather cool) fighting style of Alone in the Dark 2's Big Bad and final boss, One-Eyed Jack.
- Sword Fight - Alone in the Dark had a swordfight against a pirate ghost as a major encounter about 2/3rds of the way through the game. Alone in the Dark 2's climax involves a series of sword fights against the Quirky Miniboss Squad of pirates.
- The Unfought - The 2008 Alone In The Dark builds up to a climactic showdown between Edward Carnby and Lucifer... and just when it looks like the two are about to throw down, the game ends with a Gainax Ending.
- The Bad Guy Wins - Both endings to 2008, more or less, although one is a potential Sequel Hook.
- The End - or Is It? - The original game ends with the hero destroying the evil force and escaping the mansion into daylight, hailing a passing cab and getting in, only for the driver to turn around and reveal himself as a cackling zombie. Of course, since he appears in the sequel, presumably this experience wasn't ultimately negative.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore - The first game includes Fragments of the Book of Abdul and De Vermis Mysteriis. Reading the former will hurt you and reading the latter kills you. The Vermis is found with another book warning you that reading such tomes can be harmful (and mentions the Vermis by name), but the game doesn't tell you what a book's title is until you've already read it.
- Trial and Error Gameplay
- Unwinnable by Design - A bunch of circumstances in the original 1992 game. For example, if the mirrors are broken before you put them on the statues you are trapped on the 2nd floor, and if you forget to unlock the basement door and all the planks leading across the chasm have fallen down then you're stuck underground.
- Updated Rerelease - The 2008 Alone in the Dark is be rereleased on the Playstation 3 as Alone in the Dark: Inferno, with exclusive new levels as well as improved, faster and more responsive controls. The Scrappy Level has also been made easier and much less frustrating.
- Alone in the Dark 2 had a CD re-issue, with the difficult initial garden maze skippable and a further sequence with child co-star Grace.
- When Trees Attack - The boss of the original game is a tree (inhabited by the Big Bad) that shoots fireballs at you.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz - the horrific monsters in the 2008 Alone in the Dark are listed as Ratz, Vampirez, and Humanz. If anyone thinks they could sound less lame in the original French... they don't.