In video games the horror genre has always been a favorite of mine, but it wasn’t until 1992 that a game would actually put fear into my heart. The first game to do this successfully was Alone in the Dark.
This game was your standard graphic adventure similar to the classic Sierra adventures that I also loved, but there was no typing or mouse clicking. Everything was controlled by keyboard keys. Functions such as examine, pick up, drop, push, open, and close were used. In addition to the standard adventure controls there were also action commands such as run, fight, kick, and shoot. This gave the game an added layer of excitement because not only were you exploring, but you would also have to fight a number of monsters along the way.
Before the game starts you make your character choice. You can play as either Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood. This took me by surprise when I first played the game because most protagonists in video games were, and actually still are, male. Although it doesn’t affect game play or the outcome of the game, the fact that you were given a choice to be male or female was interesting and rather refreshing.
The story of the game starts out with you exploring a mansion in which there is a piano that you must find. You enter the mansion and the doors shut behind you, trapping you inside. Your character automatically walks up to the attic where the piano sits and your adventure begins.
The encounters with enemies are really what set the tone of the game. For instance, you’ll simply enter a room and strangely the door closes behind you. After you’ve searched everything in the room you calmly open to door to reveal a zombie. At this moment the music strikes up and you jump in your seat (or at least I did). Now you’re face to face with a zombie and you quickly have to get yourself into fight mode. A few kicks and the zombie falls to the ground and turns into a swirl of colorful bubbles that float away. As strange as it sounds it’s actually quite satisfying to watch.
All in all the game is very entertaining and quite challenging. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of adventure games or horror games in general. So turn off the lights, fire up that copy of DosBox, and prepare to be scared.