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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (European Version)
    Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (European Version)
The grandfather of survival-horror gets a new sequel! - Review By Tren - Page 2/2

  • The Bad

    Though not as gory as Resident Evil, survival-horror fans won't be disappointed.

    Perhaps it's because the graphics are so fantastic, that the encounter with the first real monsters fells like a massive let-down while playing TNN. This is probably due to the fact that the bulk of the enemies in the game aren't actually "of our world" (a plot point which you will discover once you reach Shadow Island's mansion) and as such, they aren't composed of blood, bones and flesh. Thus, when the creatures die they de-materialize in a blue flash, instead of splatter on the ground into a bloody mess. I found this particularly disappointing, being a Resident Evil fan used to extreme amounts of blood and guts. While the blood-thirsty mansion dogs do die in a pool of their own blood, these are only met briefly near the beginning of the game. As such, overall the game will do little to quench the thirst most survival-horror fanatics have for gratuitous violence.

    Another area where the game falls short, in comparison to Resident Evil, is in its soundtrack. While the sound effects are above average, the music itself verges on being annoying most of the time. The screams and scratching effects are good, but the music and background noise ambience just doesn't do enough to increase your heart rate and make you nervous. Although, the footstep variations are very well done and change based on what surface your character is walking on at any given time. Unfortunately, this alone isn't enough to save the soundtrack from being average, overall.

    While it's obvious a lot of effort was put into making the player work hard to put together the pieces when solving a puzzle, certain aspects of the game are unnecessary illogical and difficult to work with. The map, for example, is particularly difficult to use because it only shows the doors to the room which you're currently in. Locked doors found in previous rooms don't show up on the map, meaning you'll often find yourself wandering aimlessly through the mansion to recalibrate yourself to the environment.

    The mansion's key naming conventions only make matters worse. On the map screen, the mansion has a first floor, second floor and an attic. However once you begin picking up keys to open up locked doors, you'll find that they have their own separate naming convention, different from the game map. Keys with "ground floor" written on them, actually refer to doors which are on the floor the map calls the "first floor". This may in itself have been a puzzle, but I personally just found it a pointless aggravation.

    Say "Ahhhhh!"

    The flaws with the keys don't stop there, as the key's themselves are a pain to use. TNN will make you appreciate just how good Resident Evil is at helping you unlock doors you have a key for. For those who don't know, in Resident Evil, if you have a key to a locked door and you try to open it, the game will offer you the choice of unlocking the door with the key. This saves you the trouble of having to check your inventory for the key and use it. Even if Resident Evil made you go into your inventory each time, this still wouldn't be nearly as frustrating as TNN because its always clear in RE which key is for which door. In TNN the keys are named extremely vaguely. For example, a key marked GRD FL WEST would refer to a door in the western side of the ground floor of the mansion. This means you'll have to try to use the key in every locked door on the ground floor (or first floor as the map would call it) on the west side of the house. As mentioned previously, TNN has no auto-use key in door feature, meaning you'll have to dive into your inventory each time to try out a key on the door before finding out it is, in fact, the wrong key for that door. Overall, the poor implementation of the map, locked doors and key's naming is completely unnecessary and could easily have been improved if the standard features of Capcom's interface had been implemented by Darkworks.

    These are probably the worst of the game's flaws, but there are a few other minor annoyances. Often using items requires your character to be in EXACTLY the right place, which can make scouring a room for the first time a slower process than it should be. Also, the health status naming conventions are a bit strange. RE stalwarts used to the "Green - Fine", "Yellow - Caution", "Orange - Caution", "Red - Danger" status measure will need to readjust slightly here. Confusingly, TNN's health system is near identical except for the new status type "OK," which is indicated by a pale green shade. "OK" is considered better than "Fine," the highest health setting in RE. This is quite odd, at least to me, considering a pale green should indicate less health than a normal green hue, and also because "OK" sounds like a worse condition than "Fine." This is just nitpicking, of course.

    It seems a requirement of survival-horror titles to have an annoying save system, and TNN continues this long standing trend. Initially, the system may sound like a good idea, but as you play further into the game, problems quickly rear their ugly heads. You see, in TNN you pick up "Charms of Saving" throughout your adventure, which can be used at any time to save your exact progress. This works well in theory, but the ability to keep the charm and use it whenever you wish is wasted, as they're usually placed in the best place to save anyway. While this itself isn't really that much of a grievance, the weird nature that the save actually records your situation information is. Sometimes when loading up a save created after defeating a large enemy or picking up everything in an area, the items will be reset meaning that the enemy will need to be defeated again and items re-gathered. This is irritating in the more difficult areas where the save is frequently loaded back up. This can be avoided however, in situations where a charm is found in the same area as there are many items to pick up or things to kill. In these situations I personally recommended you wait until you leave that room or area before saving, so as to prevent frustration upon reloading back up. The saving itself only takes up 12 blocks, but unfortunately can only be saved to the VMU in A1 which is a bit frustrating for those of us who don't like to continually switch VMUs around.

  • The Final Word

    Overall, despite sloppily implemented key and map features, and few other minor problems, Darkworks have succeeded in bringing the Alone In The Dark series back to form. Fantastic graphics and superbly realized locales make this one of the best survival-horror games on the Dreamcast, although it doesn't quite put down Capcom's best efforts. If you've already completed Resident Evil: Code Veronica, find Capcom's budget PSX conversions a little unappetising, and yearn for an all new epic survival-horror title, then pick up Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. But just remember to play with the lights out and the sound up!

    Developer: Darkworks
    Publisher: Infogrames
    Genre: Survival-Horror

    Highs: Large game, amazing graphics and effects especially the flashlight, great suspense.
    Lows: Sloppy map and key implementation, average soundtrack, obligatory frustrating save system.
    Other: 1 player, VMU compatible (12 blocks), Jump Pack compatible, VGA Box compatible

    Final Score:

    (out of a possible 10)

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