Home / News / PS5 First Look: Alone in the Dark weaves an eldritch tale that’s both familiar and fresh

PS5 First Look: Alone in the Dark weaves an eldritch tale that’s both familiar and fresh

THQ Nordic and Pieces Interactive’s Alone in the Dark arrives today, and we’re taking a First Look ahead of our full review.

*Note- this First Look uses a PS5 copy of Alone in the Dark, supplied by THQ Nordic

Not that Alone actually

Much like all of the previous stabs at resurrecting Alone in the Dark, the latest reboot is a ‘new’ take on the original’s story. While that’s true, this Dark is also pretty easily the most faithful to that 1992 release, even with its myriad of alterations.

While past AitD’s have brought the story to the city, changed its narrative entirely, and radically altered the look and time-period, developer Pieces Interactive would have none of that. This time around, Alone in the Dark is pretty darn close to what fans might remember. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that it won’t surprise those who fondly remember the Lovecraftian original. Well, in some ways anyway.

The old mansion Derceto has definitely seen better days

Before you read on, be aware that we’re taking an early look at the game here, since our review isn’t ready just yet and the title hits stores today. We’ll try to keep things fairly spoiler-free also, but at the same time give you a good sense of what you might be in store for if you pick up a copy.

The good

The former southern plantation of Derceto is the setting for this new Alone in the Dark, which should immediately strike a chord for those who played the original game. But though the name is the same, this new manor isn’t the building that it originally was. Instead of being a private home, Derceto is a kind of mental facility, one that’s had a tragic past.

As a setting for a cosmic horror story, it’s a great change, and perfectly fitting for the mood and narrative. Alone in the Dark’s story is actually tied in deeply to Derceto’s new identity, with the main trigger for it being the disappearance of one Jeremy Hartwood. The owner in the original, where he wasn’t seen at all, Hartwood is a patient in this new AitD, and has a pretty big part to play as the story rolls out.

Players can pick from Edward Carnby (played by David Harbour) or Emily Hartwood (actress Jodie Comer) to experience this new tale of terror, with the former being the series’ mainstay hero and the latter being the niece of Jeremy (and who’s hired Carnby). The two heroes vocals sound fantastic, as does the rest of the cast really, though Harbour’s Carnby is a standout.

Both characters play differently, and have varied stories. If you’re a survival-horror vet, you might get the sense that Pieces went for a classic Resident Evil vibe with their intertwined tales. I sure did, and I loved the choice to engage with that, instead of just switching back and forth between the two throughout the campaign.

Evil lies beyond that threshold

As far as the presentation, the game’s settings both look and sound fantastic. Derceto itself seems old and lived-in, and has a haunting vibe, and there are some really well done visually-shocking moments too, as… well we’ll just say ‘as worlds overlap’. That’s not to say that you’ll be staying inside of the plantation’s walls though, as the game shifts locations quite often. Fortunately most of those look sharp, and there are some standouts as well.

As for the controls, while you do have some options, if you’ve played a modern Resident Evil game then you have a good idea of what Alone in the Dark offers. It’s much less action-oriented than RE is though, and leans more into puzzle solving and exploration.

That being said, you do have a limited supply of projectile weapons, plus some melee possibilities, and you will have to make use of all of that. So if you’re looking to bust some heads (in a cosmic sense of course), don’t worry because there is action, it’s just that it’s meted out along with the above mentioned mechanics.

The not-so good

As cool as Derceto comes across, I was a little bummed that it wasn’t bigger. Don’t get me wrong, the place is sizable and offers a lot to do, but as mentioned the story changes locations quite often. And while the shifts to a city street and swamp (for example) are well done, they aren’t what I had assumed I was getting when first diving into the game. I realize this could be just my own preferences, but I was hoping that Derceto would have been a sprawling place, completely containing this new adventure within its creepy and decaying walls.

While I’m picking too, I have to mention is that I found most of the enemy designs a little lacking. There are some standouts for sure, and some those are incredibly gruesome looking, but overall I expected something a little… wilder? Again I don’t want to spoil too much just yet, but a good chunk of the enemies, especially the very early ones, come across as being pretty basic.

I did also want to wedge in here, that while I really dig the story, I felt there were some odd choices made. There’s some terrific audio narration for example, that fills in some gaps and gives clues to your character’s thinking, but you have to access them via a button press.

They can be easily missed as such, and I feel like it would have been way better to have had the segments play over the action. Also along the same lines, there are collectibles that you’ll find along your journey that open up additional story. I get that this is kind of the point of looking for said items, but some of the (background) story points that they make seem too cool to miss out on because you didn’t find a little statue or something.

Maybe that’s just me wanting to know absolutely everything about this new Alone in the Dark’s universe though. And I suppose that is actually a good thing overall, since it means the game is definitely doing something right.

And finally, I’ve got to include that there are some technical issues. There aren’t a ton, but sometimes the camera can shift into really weird angles for a second or two (unintentionally), and I did get stuck on a handful of occasions. One of those times, I wildly swung my equipped melee weapon and it somehow unstuck me, but that kind of stuff is a pretty big pet peeve, especially when I haven’t saved in a while.

More to come

Even with the negatives I mentioned above, I’m enjoying this new version of the classic quite a bit. As a fan of the original, I can add that that’s the first time I can say that. While some saw release a long time ago, I’m pretty sure I’ve played all of the reboots and none of the other go’s have felt authentic to the original.

This new AitD definitely does, even with the alterations to the story and themes. So if you’re looking for a springtime scare and some cosmic-level weirdness, you might want to dig into the deep dark of Derceto’s collective psyche.

But again, if you’d prefer to see what we thought of the game in-depth, hang out for a few and we’ll have that full review posted soon.

About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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