Alone In The Dark Review – Good Ol’ Southern Hospitality

A uniquely charming setting elevates an otherwise standard horror adventure.

It’s easy to forget that Alone In The Dark came before and inspired Resident Evil. Despite this, as a series, Alone In The Dark has always struggled to find the level of notoriety in the genre that Resident Evil and even Silent Hill have. It’s not for lack of trying, though – there have been five games, two questionable films and an even more questionable multiplayer spin-off. And yet, it still remains relatively obscure. But Alone In The Dark has always deserved a shot, so it makes sense to go back to where it all began and try to capture the now ravenous horror audience that we know exists. Thankfully, the 2024 remake of Alone In The Dark is perhaps the best the series has ever been, but not without some caveats.

Alone In The Dark follows an in-debt detective, Edward Carnby, played by David Harbour, as he investigates the disappearance of a man named Jeremy Hartwood. He’s been hired by Emily Hartwood, played by Jodie Comer, who happens to be Jeremy’s niece. The two travel to Decerto Manor, a home for the mentally fatigued, where they discover that not everything is as it seems and that a strange journey awaits them both.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Emily Hartwood Discovers A Ceremonial Knife In A Tomb

Keen fans of the original Alone In The Dark will notice a change to the plot already – Jeremy is missing rather than having committed suicide. This is one of the many changes the Alone In The Dark remake makes in its narrative. At the surface level, it’s a rather typical Lovecraft-inspired story that was more unique in 1992 than now. But with this remake, directed and written by the mind that brought us SOMA, certain aspects have been twisted in an interesting way. I don’t think it’s anything mind-blowing, but it is still at odds with your expectations, especially if you’re intimately familiar with the original.

It’s well documented that the team behind this remake was inspired by the success of Capcom’s much-beloved remakes of Resident Evil 2, which especially shows here. That game is played from an identical viewpoint, inviting you to explore Derceto Manor to solve the mystery of Jeremy’s disappearance. That means finding items and clues to solve puzzles while occasionally fighting strange creatures. The inspiration is liberal, so if you know how a modern Resident Evil game plays, you know how Alone In The Dark plays, too.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Edward Carnby Looks On As A Mysterious Woman Walks Into The Fog Behind Him

A genre staple both then and now, Alone In The Dark allows you to choose Edward or Emily as the playable character at the beginning of your journey. Each character treads the same ground in the opening moments, with some slight divergence as the story ends. But it’s not two sides of one story, but rather just one side of the story flipped to suit whoever you play as. If you play as Edward, then Emily will become the more level-headed companion played against Edward’s more zany sense of investigation. If you play as Emily, the roles are reversed. It’s a weird choice that leaves me unsure which version of events is canon, given that both characters can inhabit either role in the plot.

From a gameplay perspective, Emily feels like the “easier” option between the two. Her pistol is automatic and reloads faster than Edward’s revolver. However, these differences are negligible given how inoffensive the combat can be—more on that later. The other key differences have to do with how the story plays out, but how much you’re invested in this story in the first place will really determine if you see value in playing through the game multiple times.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Emily Hartwood Enters An Elaborate Stained Glass Convent

That’s because the order of events you experience as Edward and Emily are identical up until the final few hours or so. A personal subplot for each character is neatly slotted into the story, but beyond that singular level, everything else in terms of locales you’ll visit and paths you take through the game is identical. There are some interesting subtle differences – characters will treat Emily differently to Edward in conversation, given that Edward is an outsider. Still, these feel relatively superficial in the big scheme of things. However, Emily’s playthrough feels less cryptic (even if it’s still outlandish).

Your time in Decerto harkens back to the original Alone In The Dark. You’ll explore the mansion while solving puzzles, finding keys and piecing together clues. At its core, it’s a rather typical Survival Horror experience. However, exploring Decerto Manor does lack the tension of classic settings like the RPD or Spencer Mansion. On the one hand, I appreciated that Decerto felt like an old-school haunted house, threatening but never truly dangerous. On the other hand, it means that tension dissipates quickly when you realise you’re almost always safe in the manor while exploring.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Inventory Screen

As you progress, Edward or Emily can use a talisman to transport themselves somewhere outside of Decerto. Sometimes, that’ll be another area, another point in time or sometimes even into physical representations of other characters’ psyche. This is where most of the action happens, and they’re an excellent way to break up the slower-paced exploration when you’re in Decerto. But it’s also where most of the combat happens, and this is, unfortunately, where Alone In The Dark falters.


While some interesting things happen on a narrative level with Alone In The Dark, the combat leaves much to be desired. The problem is that the enemies lack variety and, more crucially, don’t ever threaten the player much. There are around four enemy types that you’ll fight through the entirety of the campaign, too, with each looking like some kind of oily skeleton with a random appendage attached. There’s a flying enemy and two boss-like enemies, too, but overall, the enemy variety could be more inspired and much better.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Edward Carnby Aims Down A Tunnel Through Fog Against An Enemy

This is incredibly disappointing because the combat feels weightless, too. This is owing to the shoddy audio, which is often out-of-sync with your weapons firing. There are “opportunity” weapons peppered throughout the environment as a single-use item, but throwing them lacks the weight and the heft you’d expect. There’s even a wide range of melee weapons to pick up, one at a time, which are also breakable. But hitting enemies feels like so much of a gamble, given how shoddy hit detection can be, that it’s rare to even bother trying.

I don’t know why horror games insist on implementing breakable melee weapons, especially given how many of the horror greats don’t do so, but it is still frustrating rather than what I can only assume developers think will be tension-creating. Even aiming feels off because even when lining up the perfect shot, they’ll sometimes just not hit an enemy for whatever reason. These aspects could be finetuned with some updates, but in its current state, the combat feels like the game’s weakest aspect. It’s a shame, too, because conceptually, there are plenty of options for the player, but none are well-honed.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Edward Carnby Is Overrun By Bats Inside Decerto Manor

With the choice of two playable characters and these differences in story and lore, there is a degree of replayability in Alone In The Dark, but it’s very dependent. My first thorough run, where I took my time and explored everything, took around seven to nine hours, give or take. But like any classic survival horror game, on my third run, I could quickly finish it in half of that. In addition, there are collectibles called Lagniappes that unlock other endings if found. Some Lagniappes can only be found as Edward, others as Emily, so if you want the full (and deliciously meta) story, it’s worth replaying to seek these out. But, once again, it depends on how much you value story first in games and whether this plot grabs you in the first place.

From a presentation standpoint, Louisiana is well-realised in Alone In The Dark. The incredible city and all its surroundings are immaculately captured, drawing from the Southern Gothic influences the team was clearly going for. Decerto Manor looks great, but the bayous you’ll trudge around in are incredibly atmospheric. Other urban locales, like shipping yards and even the streets of New Orleans, are also incredibly moody, with fog and dingey streetlights really setting the scenes for these moody locales. Unfortunately, there are some invisible walls that do take away from the immersion, but otherwise, the world of Alone In The Dark is incredible.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Edward Carnby Has A Conversation With Ruth

On a similar note, the original score is also fantastic. Many of the game’s key moments are supplemented with catchy, sombre jazz that really gives the game a unique feel and ties in directly with its unique setting. The result is admittedly something that’s not scary but still feels unsettling, similar to an episode of Twin Peaks.

The voice work, on the other hand, is less of a surefire hit. David Harbour sounds just like David Harbour, with no range whatsoever. It can be distracting to hear Hopper during some of the more seminal moments of the story. On the other hand, Jodie Comer’s performance can best be described as her sleepwalking through the script, which is a shame. I appreciate that celebrities might bring more attention to the game, but they feel so at odds with the rest of the atmosphere that I’m not sure it was worth it.

Alone In The Dark Remake Review - Emily Hartwood Looking Shocked After Making a Discovery

Despite its shortcomings, I still enjoyed Alone In The Dark when all is said and done. It’s compelling enough that I played it through three times, even if at no point did I ever feel any sense of fear or terror. It’s short enough to be replayable but significant enough that I didn’t feel shortchanged. However, with clear inspiration taken from Resident Evil 2 comes a clear invitation to compare, and in that regard, it ultimately comes up short. But still, if you’re a fan of horror and games like Resident Evil, or more specifically, psychologically themed horror like The Evil Within, you’ll no doubt find something to love in Alone In The Dark’s uniquely charming setting and atmosphere.

Alone In The Dark is an ambitious reimagining that does little to differentiate itself from the games it's inspired by. While it's clearly taking inspiration from both Resident Evil and The Evil Within to be a survival horror powerhouse, the flat feeling combat and timid horror elements stop it from standing above the games that inspired it. Despite this, a unique take on the story and the strong setting makes it well worth a look for horror fans.
Unique Take On The Original Trilogy Story
Strong Presentation And Direction
Clever Puzzles
Combat Feels Off
Lacking Scares And Tension
Flat Voice Work