So this is how it goes. Infogrames created a groundbreaking 3D survival horror game in 1992, about a couple of people stuck in a mansion full of monsters. While Infogrames went on to create 2 sequels that made the game more action horror than scary survival horror (I played them both on a Windows 95 PC years ago and they were uber cheesy), Capcom ran with the original Alone in the Dark formula and in 1996 released Resident Evil, a perfected version that delivered a brilliantly immersive, cinematic experience.
As Capcom was busy ruling game land with the best survival horror franchise ever, Infogrames resurrected Alone in the Dark with “The New Nightmare” in 2001. It was immediately labeled a Resident Evil clone. It took place in a mansion filled with ghouls like Resident Evil. And it had two different but intersecting playing experiences depending on whether you played the male or female characters, as in Resident Evil 2.
Which is why Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is the best Alone in the Dark video game ever. It’s amazing! Whether played on Dreamcast or PC (not on PS1—didn’t look as good), it is a super spooky survival horror experience with topnotch graphics for the time.
One thing that sets The New Nightmare apart from Resident Evil is the dark, gritty look; you even have to use a fricking flashlight a good amount of the time to see. Okay, so maybe that part steals from Silent Hill, which came out in 1999, but the feel of the game is still more “scary zombie mansion fun” than “freaky foggy town terror.” It’s definitely a gloomier atmosphere than Resident Evil.
Like Resident Evil, you have to collect ammo and health, solve intriguing and challenging puzzles, explore new locations as you go farther into the depths of the mansion, and fight off hellish creatures, many of which appear unexpectedly. There are creepy crawlies, chill-inducing underwater monsters (I fricking hate water monsters in these games!), zombies (even in a damn swamp!), and critters that materialize out of thin air. There’s also an awesome fight with a flying monster in a library.
There are fun cheap scares as well—like lightning flashes that screw with your head because they illuminate monsters that aren’t really there. Awesome! The only annoying part of the game is the respawning enemies. With games like this, in which you have to pass through the same halls dozens of times, there’s no better ammo waster than respawning fricking zombies!
Unfortunately, just like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, when Alone in the Dark finally got another sequel seven years later (on the PS3 and Xbox 360), the style of game play had completely changed—it was INFURIATING!!! I’m pretty sure that disaster ended the series forever—along with the terrible movie adaptations of the game. But Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is definitely one I replay when I’m feeling nostalgic for classic survival horror game play, which is pretty much always since it doesn’t exist anymore.