Alone in the Dark Review (PS5)


In spite of all its shortcomings, Alone in the Dark is a game we can’t help but have a soft spot for. It’s packed full of glitches at launch. The combat feels awful. It’s not scary whatsoever, and the stealth sequences are dreadful. Yet, there’s such a clear passion for the survival horror genre coursing through it that it comes out the other side still a relatively enjoyable experience. On paper, Alone in the Dark is not a good video game. However, with a fondness for the PS1 original and that classic Resident Evil-style gameplay, it’s a PS5 title with its heart in the right place.

Alone in the Dark Review - Screenshot 1 of 4

The love letter to the original trilogy plays somewhat similarly to the recent Resident Evil revivals. From the perspective of either Emily Hartwood or Edward Carnby — the former played by Jodie Comer of Killing Eve fame and the latter being David Harbour from Stranger Things — you’ll explore the Derceto Manor in an effort to find Emily’s uncle, who’s gone missing inside the home for the mentally fatigued. The experience harkens back to the days of old with a modern feel as puzzle-solving, ammo management, and clunky combat take centre stage.

The famous Derceto Manor is the main attraction, with the sort of incredible, absurd puzzles you’d never encounter in real life gradually unlocking its rooms and secrets as you progress. You’ll work to solve these brain teasers by cross-referencing between files and items, matching keys with locked doors, and correctly aligning concrete slabs to make a picture. Their elaborate nature is what makes the experience so appealing; you never know what sort of comically preposterous task is up next.

You’re able to freely explore the mansion most of the time, backtracking for optional collectibles and items once you’ve worked out a puzzle solution or found a new key. The game again takes cues from the modern Resident Evil entries with a map that fills in as you uncover its secrets. Once a room has been fully cleared of its inventory, it’ll be marked as such. Puzzles work similarly: they’ll be highlighted green on your map once you have all the pieces needed to crack it.

Alone in the Dark Review - Screenshot 2 of 4

Alone in the Dark would be a better game if that’s all there was to it, but the title quite frequently interjects with supernatural sequences that take you beyond the four walls of the Derceto Manor. Though more riddles await, guns and melee weapons become your main tools in combat scenarios that really drag the game down. The enemies look a lot like the Molded from Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and their bullet-spongy nature combined with clunky, overly weighty controls makes them a chore to kill. Simply engaging in a fight doesn’t feel good, and the melee weapons lack much of any feedback when you land a hit. Worse still are a handful of stealth sections that feel completely out of place — some of which are frustrating one-hit kill sequences.

It makes for a game of two halves: one moment you’ll be wrapped up in working out an engaging puzzle, only to be transported to an otherworldly place and forced to fight monsters. The quality of those brain teasers makes pushing through the more tedious and temperamental encounters just about worth it, however.

You could say similarly of the game’s structure and an important question it poses at the very start: who will you play as? Alone in the Dark, in a sense, has two different campaigns. You can choose to play as either Emily or Edward, though this decision doesn’t have quite as much impact as it might appear.

Alone in the Dark Review - Screenshot 3 of 4

For the vast majority of the title’s six-hour campaign, you’ll spend it searching Derceto Manor on your own. There are a few cutscenes where Emily and Edward meet up and share their findings, but the protagonist you don’t choose to play is hardly seen beside the introduction and the ending. While this might present the illusion that playing as the other main character involves completely different objectives, puzzles, and areas, that’s not actually the case.

We played as Emily first, and in a rare cutscene involving Edward, he explained he hadn’t been experiencing any of the supernatural events in the mansion brought about by a medallion found early on in the game. We were eager to learn what Edward’s campaign looked like without those occurrences (since they introduce the worst parts of the game). However, it turns out you’re told a lot of the same story no matter who you pick, with events and locations recycled to a disappointing degree.

There are some deviations here and there — different puzzles and cutscenes, for example — but they’re not nearly enough to warrant a whole second playthrough. Only the collectibles (known as Lagniappes) offer some justification, with further secrets locked behind them.

Alone in the Dark Review - Screenshot 4 of 4

Another run through the game would at least give you more time to appreciate the excellent soundtrack complementing the Derceto Manor. Composed by Árni Bergur Zoëga, the stately home is lent a tense, creepy, and unsettling atmosphere despite the fact enemies rarely show their faces within its rooms and hallways. Effective sound cues heighten shock values when the game does flip its script with a fast transition to another place (generally when you go to open a door), making for a real highlight of the overall experience.

It’s just one of a few examples demonstrating Pieces Interactive’s blatant love for the survival horror genre and the games that shaped it in years gone by. When Alone in the Dark simply leaves you to it in the Derceto Manor to solve puzzles, unlock new rooms, and find secrets, it’s at its best. Thankfully, those moments are enough to carry the title through its lesser combat-focused encounters.

Anyone who shares that passion for classic survival horror will find something to like in the PS5 reboot, but at launch will be when it’s toughest to do so. While it’s possible the day one patch will address some of these issues, we encountered glitches that stopped us from using weapons and taking damage, and enemies that hit us out of the bounds of the map, forcing a checkpoint reload. You can also get yourself caught on objects in the environment and become trapped, and a handful of hard crashes forced us back to the PS5 home screen. The game is playable enough in its current state, but a few updates after release should do it the world of good. That’s when Alone in the Dark will shine brightest.


There are too many flaws at the heart of Pieces Interactive’s Alone in the Dark reboot for a blanket recommendation, but anyone with a love for classic survival horror gameplay should — after a few post-launch patches at least — find a relatively worthwhile experience. The combat sections are awful and there’s very little to actually spook you, but the puzzle-solving gameplay at the game’s core shines. For that alone, it’ll find just enough of an audience ready and willing to love it.

Related articles

Recent articles