Alone in the Dark: Illumination Resurrects the Franchise Without the Horror

Resident Evil is considered, by many, the father of survival horror, but that’s not entirely true. Sure, Resident Evil popularized the franchise, but Alone in the Dark came first. Unfortunately, the franchise never found the same success as Resident Evil. After one bad movie and a really bad reboot (Alone in the Dark 2008), the franchise fell into obscurity. Now, in 2015, it’s being revived. I recently got to go hands on with Alone in the Dark: Illumination and, though it does revive the franchise, it’s not all that scary.

Alone in the Dark: Illumination stars four heroes – the Hunter, Witch, Priest and the Engineer – who converge on the town of Lorwich. A curse shrouds the town in unnatural darkness, as the monstrous hordes of Cthulhu emerge to wreak havoc on the land. The four heroes must use the powers of illumination to defeat the demons.

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is a third-person shooter, four-player co-op game. Players choose one of the four heroes, each with their own unique weapons, skills and powers. I chose the Hunter in my demo, who the developers describe as the most balanced of the four. Equipped with an assault rifle and flamethrower, I was thrown into an early level from the game.

I was immediately introduced to the primary mechanic: illumination. You see, the monsters can only be killed when under a light source. There are numerous lights players can activate throughout the map, but will only stay on for a limited amount of time. Each character does have a flashlight, but the beam isn’t strong enough to cause a serious amount of damage.

My objective was simple: reroute electricity to a generator that powers an elevator. Special equipment was required, which forced me to search the town. All objectives were highlighted, like in Left 4 Dead, so it wasn’t too hard collecting the necessary equipment. There was final showdown with the demons as I waited for the final door to open, but there were so many lights that the fight wasn’t a huge challenge.

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The third-person shooting mechanics felt good. The controls are traditional, making it accessible for anyone who has played a modern shooter. What doesn’t work is that the game’s not scary. Maybe it’s because I only played in one setting, there was only one type of monster, or because the difficulty was toned down for solo play, but the horror just wasn’t there. Illumination doesn’t jump on the action bandwagon like Resident Evil did, but it’s definitely missing that horror element.

Illumination is running on the Unreal 4 Engine and has some strong lighting. The glow creatures emit when a light source hits them looks cool. Other than that, the game looks kind of drab thanks to the dark color palette. There are other areas, so this could change throughout the course of the game, but the demo I played did not have the best looking visuals.

Alone in the Dark: Illumination brings the legendary franchise back from the dead. There’s potential here for four friends to have a good time, as long as you’re not looking for something scary. That horror could return in other levels, but it just wasn’t present during the demo. Alone in the Dark: Illumination is out now on PC and Mac. No plans for PS4 and Xbox One versions at this time.