While the original Resident Evil ultimately popularised survival horror on PS1, it wouldn’t exist without Infogrames’ scrappy Alone in the Dark. The game – first released in 1992, and later ported to consoles like the 3DO – was a remarkable feat: it depicted a pre-rendered 3D environment, where you had to solve environmental puzzles pertaining to the suicide of Jeremy Hartwood as either private detective Edward Carnby or grieving niece Emily Hartwood.
After several shoddy sequels – including Eden Games’ messy 2008 reboot Alone in the Dark: Inferno – THQ Nordic is resurrecting the franchise with a PS5 reimagining of the original. Development has been underway since 2019 at Swedish studio Pieces Interactive, with acclaimed SOMA and Amnesia: The Dark Descent scribe Mikael Hedberg handling the script. The goal is to take the Derceto Mansion setting from the original, and transform it into a truly terrifying backdrop for the modern era.
As such, there are some changes to the story. While you’ll still be able to play as both Edward and Emily – you’ll need to play through the campaign twice to see everything – Jeremy does not commit suicide this time. Instead, the mansion is described as a mental asylum for the rich and wealthy, where things have gone awry. As with the original, there are supernatural elements, and these will lead to you exploring outside of the manor during key story sequences.
Based on some short gameplay snippets we saw, the atmosphere looks thick. As with the original, the mansion is set in New Orleans, and so the developer has recruited Netherlands-based composer Jason Kohnen to concoct a kind of “dark jazz” soundtrack which fits the mood of the backdrop perfectly. There’ll be pre-rendered cutscenes created by Metric Minds, who also worked on Sony’s tentpole PS4 title Horizon Zero Dawn.
The developer promises a blend of exploration, combat, and puzzle solving. We got to see a very simple brainteaser whereby a slide puzzle needed to be completed, but the team promises that these head scratchers will grow in complexity as the campaign progresses. The combat does look a little like a bargain bin Resident Evil 2, and it’s hard to shake the comparisons to Capcom’s seminal remake, but with no release date attached there’s time for these elements to be tidied up.
THQ Nordic appears very concerned about spoilers, and has even created a bespoke “playable teaser” – the publisher’s wording, not ours – inspired by Alone in the Dark 2’s infamous Jack in the Dark demo. This will be on display at Gamescom, and like its inspiration will see you assume the role of a young girl named Grace Saunders. It’s unclear, at the time of writing, whether this will be released to the public – but it’s safe to assume it will.
As previously mentioned, no launch window for the title has been announced, but we anticipate this will probably arrive in 2023. It’s interesting how Alone in the Dark, a key inspiration for the original Resident Evil, is now following in the footsteps of Capcom’s franchise – but we’re optimistic, partly due to the writing talent involved with this project, and the overall approach to doing the original justice. If nothing else, we’re confident this will be the best instalment in the series since it pioneered a genre in the early 90s.