Sunday, October 5, 2014

VGR Alone in the Dark 3 Ghosts in Town

Carnby is back for one last classic adventure!

This time, say bye bye to Lovecraft, zombies and mansions and settle in for a Weird West tale of ghosts and Native American lore!~

VGR: Alone in the Dark 3 also known as Alone in the Dark: Ghosts in Town or simply AitD3 or Alone 3
From Infogrames/AMT Savan Corp/Interplay Infogramess
Played on PC
Also available on Mac

Type Adventure/Survival horror
Year 1994

The third Alone in the Dark was developed by Infogrames and first released in 1994 for Dos, with a Windows edition the following year and a Mac release in 1996. Most of those later editions added the subtitle: "Alone in the Dark: Ghosts in Town". 
Alone in the Dark 3 was the last episode of what is considered the classic "Alone in the Dark trilogy".
The game was still using the same original engine two years later. Which means the same overall gameplay mechanics. Since both Frédéric Raynal (AitD1) and Franck de Girolami (AitD2) had left Infogrames by then, it was Christiane Sgorlon who took over directing duties and the design of the whole game for this project. Bruno Bonnell was left just overseeing the entire game, and the scenario was written by Hubert Chardot and Christian Nabais this time.

"Alone 3" was distributed by Interplay (and Electronic Arts in Japan).

This episode ditched the entire zombie and lovecraftian aspect from the past games for ghosts in the wild west!

The story takes place in 1926.

Edward Carnby is now a well-established successful private investigator, who goes by the title of "Supernatural Private Eye".

A film crew disappeared in the ghost town of Slaughter Gulch, located in the Mojave Desert in California, near San Andreas.

Following her adventures in the Derceto mansion, we find out Emily Hartwood (from the original game) became an actress. She was in a production, filming in this abandoned ghost town... when it appears they awoke a curse which prompted the crew to be plagued by all kinds of problem before everyone disappeared or ran off!

Carnby learns her disappearance and wants to find out what exactly happened to Emily. But as soon as our hero arrive there he is attacked by all these gunslingers waiting for his arrival!

Our hero soon discovers the truth about this.

This small town was funded by the criminal Jebediah Stone. He established this place to hid his true purposes, as the man wanted to get right and steal from the rest of the state. When the local villagers found out about this, they stone him and his henchmen to death. But not before harnessing evil power nobody should mess with... And now Jed Stone is back! He's revived these souls who now work for him as gunfighters. With some outside help, he plans to awake these spirits to take his revenge on the world!

But there are some survivors left to help Carnby in his quest, including a local miner and this old Shaman. That's right! Carnby is not really alone nor in the dark either anymore. You will find these other people that can help you in your quest.

And at some point Edward Carnby even gets killed by the villain... only to be resurrected by the Shaman as a puma! In a fun segment where you will only be able to perform some new actions and forced to think outside the box and improvise...

Alone 3 is a much more straightforward game than the previoustitles.

It uses a pretty similar gameplay. You play from this 3rd person perspective on these static gackbgrounds with cinematic angles (there's a lot of weird Sam Raimi-esque shots). Follwoing the release of Alone in the Dark 2 on the consoles, they tried to bring the same kind of little details and animations put in most backgrounds (like little lizards running in the caves, etc.).

You spend most of the game solving these puzzles and trying to get around these dangerous foes scattered all over Slaughter Gulch (you even have access to a map of the area).

If there's one thing I miss the most from the previous title is how streamlined Carnby's actions were. In Alone in the Dark 3 Carnby can choose the following actions to open/examine, move, fight and jump in some special occasions. Open and push are separate actions again, which is strange. And the added jumping ability is only really used a couple of times. I think it would have been better to simply have an "action/interact" and "fight" choice.

The goal is to try avoiding fighting as much as possible, there's always a much better way to solve your way out of an area.
The puzzles are pretty fun. The town might seem huge at first, but there's a pretty straightforward specific path if you want to avoid death - there's some dangerous enemies looking for you.

There's also a few platform sequences, which are not ideal, but they're much calmer and simpler than the ones from the past game.

Actual game dialogue, no kidding!

At least beating most of your enemies isn't a choir like in the second game, it's always better to use your head. Not just straight shooting your way through all your enemies lik in AitD2.

There are several enemies and some more dangerous foes (or bosses) around town, most announced in wanted posters near the beginning of the game.

Despite starting to feel somewhat archaic for the time, they were able to make the most out of the game's engine. Pretty decent gameplay and a couple of puzzles scattered through the environments. Never leaving you thinking really "outside the box", everything is always cleverly layed out pretty clearly in the clues you can find around those areas (in books, notes, etc.).

There's always some information for the way to solve these puzzles. In fact, there are three difficulty settings you can set. The riddles difficulty levels as well as the defense and the attack (Carnby and the enemies' health levels).

The game does feature a lot more puzzles than the previous episodes. Some of those tie directly into finding the vulnerability of the boss enemies.

The Wild West theme means than instead of mere zombie you will face ghost outlaws, armed with revolvers and rifles which you can find around. There's not a lot of ammo scattered around, so be sure to save it. There will be more and more ghost creatures through the game and by the mid-point you will finally see some mutated creatures coming from some kind of laboratories beneath the town.

Actual dialogue, again!

There's a lot of zany moments in Alone 3. Following the H.P. Lovecraft lore from the first game and the zombie/gangster/pirates from the second, we get a western with a radioactive twist! It sounds ridiculous. And it means a game closer in tone to B-movies.

There's certainly less horror and more action, but unlike AitD2 the game still has pretty good interactions and emphasis on playing an interactive story. The background story is explained through documents you can find around the town, such as newspaper clippings and old films (the movie crew shot, done in an old timey cinema style).

You even end up playing as a puma! And there's a mention to Alone 2's main villain, One Eyed Jack! (how he ended up buried here is a complete mystery though, but the mansion and the enemies of the second game are hinted in a photography, so maybe they came from this place afterall...)

Graphic-wise, this episode is colorful, more so than the past games. It's mostly the same kind of visuals and graphics. They only had a short year of production. Sure, it was starting to get somewhat dated, but it still worked nicely in the context of the game.
The game is not really that long, although finding your way around might take some time on a first playthrough. But it gets really easier and faster to get through it pretty quickly on further plays, like most adventure games.
At least the experience is always pleasant and fun enough, something you can't say from the much more action-oriented Alone 2.
The game uses a nice varied western-y soundtrack. The music was composed by Frédéric Mentzen. While it feels less creepy in tone than past games, it's a nice funky appropriate atmosphere for this game.
The voice acting is pretty solid for the most part. Since it's a French game, English wasn't the first original language, but this time it doesn't feel like it much. Sure there's some overacting as well, but it's overall much better than the previous episodes.
Finally I would like to point this out: Never, ever throw anything away, ever, periode. Carnby has an infinite capability he can store. Better be safe than sorry! You might end up needing a particular object you haven't used yet later on, without being able to backtrack between "chapters". (Don't get stuck like I did personally, which forced me to restart and redo the entire game for something you get at the start of the adventure!!)

Overall, a much better sequel, and a great final entry in the original Alone in the Dark trilogy!

Alone in the Dark 3 was far less creepy, and did away with plain "horror", but it was pretty fun. In a "horror comedy" kind of way, sort of similar to what Army of Darkness did with a similar mixed genre while acting as the final entry in the Evil Dead trilogy. 

It's probably the funniest and most accessibly episode of the series!

More puzzles, more exploration and a lot less combats!

All the installments of the Alone in the Dark trilogy are classic games. If you're a fan of the whole Survival Horror genre, I really Highly Recommend giving a look at the entire trilogy. There's really worth a try, and it's great to see where this entire genre came from. Sort of the prototypes of the entire survival horror genre which went on inspiring the likes of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc.

Unlike all the other episodes in the entire series, Alone 3 is the less ported Alone in the Dark game, and has only remained on computers only to this day.

They're well worth a look, and are all available through

Next time, I'll be reviewing a "spinoff of sorts" before returning to the Alone in the Dark series by going through the first proper modern episode... 

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Invaders!

1 comment:

  1. Super-dooper game. <3 Played a lot when I was in Elementary school.