Alone in the Dark: Illumination Preview

 
 

Alone in the Dark: Illumination (Illumination) is the next game in the Alone in the Dark series. All of these games, from the original in 1992 all the way to the reboot in 2008, have had a few key ingredients. This article will look at just two of these.

Playing on the age old fear of the human condition, darkness is definitely not your friend in this series. Players must always rely on at least a flashlight to fight of the monsters which inhabit this dark, but a flashlight will only slow them. Fire and brighter lights are a key point of any level and any character unequipped with at least one of these is almost certainly going to die.

Developer: Pure FPS

Release Date: Early 2015

The second is a sense of loneliness and isolation. Every game has been single player and enhanced this feeling of being outnumbered and terrified of what lurks in the dark.

Now Illumination has changed up this second aspect. The initial beta build which was playable, contained only one of four available characters and one of several campaigns. There seems to be a large focus on the co-operative element and this was easily noticed in the solely single player preview.

The player can take control of Hunter or Ted Carnby (a direct descendant of Ed Carnby; the protagonist of the original game), Witch (granddaughter of Emily Hartwood; female protagonist of the original), and two brand new characters; The Priest and The Engineer. But as stated, this preview contains only single player impressions.

One campaign was available to play, which had four separate missions. It has a very Left4Dead feel to it, fighting through an area to a safe zone at the end. Here however begins some issues. The controls feel clunky, and the camera is stuck at an uncomfortably close distance to the character’s shoulder. If the player is knocked down, the camera will remain stiffly in place while your character climbs to his/her feet out of sight. The guns and melee in the game feel weak. Firing dual revolvers has never felt as dull. However, as a point, these are issues that can be fixed between beta builds and are not as big a problem as some of the core gameplay elements.

Unless a player is familiar with the previous game’s details, they will be unaware of the monsters almost invulnerability in the dark and will empty bullet after bullet into an encroaching, and ever expanding hoard of monsters. Here is where it shows that Illumination is definitely built for co-operative play. The seemingly endless amount of enemies and their strengths unless in bright light, give the feeling that one person will struggle to get through the levels. These levels, in the beta at least, consisted of extended fetch quests. Gather power cables for a power station to open a door, gather batteries to power an elevator and so on. There are no other objectives or trials in the way. It’s possible to just sprint from gather point to gather point, ignoring the enemy save for a burst of flamethrower to stem the tide. This in particular is a major problem, the clunkiness mixed with the absence of any variety in objectives is not any player’s preference.

Speaking of this dark tide, the monsters look and sound terrifying. Some of their animations loop acccidentally or the audio plays incorrectly, but these problems were only encountered a few times.

In regards to light sources, this is something Illumination does well. Almost too well. Electric lights will run out after some time and the only permanent light source to be found is fires lit and Hunter’s flashlight, the latter of which doesn’t make monsters vulnerable. However as it’s mostly these finite electrical sources, towards the end of every level it often feels like a scramble to gather the last of what you need. But it’s not the exhilarating scramble that can often be found in other horror games. This also gives the impression that Illumination is very much made for co-operative play.

Overall, this Beta build feels more like an Alpha build. But it’s easy to give a game in such an early state the benefit of the doubt. The game has some good aspects to it, but there is plenty for the developers to fix and revise in their run up to release.

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