Thursday, March 20, 2008

Are you alone in the dark?

Are you sure?

Years ago, when I started playing computer games for real, a game really got me hooked: “Alone in the Dark”. It was one of the first action adventures, combining riddles and objects with fights and jumping in a 3D environment. Seen with today’s eyes, the graphics of the first game of the series aren’t very good - and the zombies look rather cubic and have sharp edges. But the game itself, with enemies that suddenly appear, with a constant lack of ammunition for the weapons (you really learn to love a sword under those circumstances) and a whole house full of ghosts, demons, zombies and other monsters, still is one of my favourite memories. It took me ages to get past all those monsters and finish the game - but I made it.

The same does not go for the second game in the series, looking pretty much alike, but being a lot more difficult. I never got past the hedge maze there - and after hundreds of fruitless tries, I just gave up. So the secrets of Hell’s Kitchen (a manor where the second game was set) remained unsolved. There were too many fights in this one and I got fed up with constantly dying. Unlike many other games in which I have died one heroic death after another, I never had a feeling of getting anywhere. I can live (well, in real life) with dying a lot in the digital world, provided I see a success between the deaths.

The third game completely passed me by. Neither the story nor the looks (which reminded me a lot of the first one, although there were three years or so in between them) appealed to me.

It took a long time (about ten years), before the fourth game came out. While the main character - private investigator Edward Carnby (you might know him from the movie with the same name) - basically remained the same, the whole game play was overhauled and the game looked and felt a lot better. Still it was easy enough to die, but at least I got somewhere between deaths.

There’s a fifth game in the making ... and I’m really interested in what will become of it.

I also liked the movie - although it admittedly falls into the category ‘blood and gore’ which I don’t see as the best. But the effects are good, the story is solid and the actors aren’t bad (though how the dark-haired PI could turn into blond Christian Slater is above my understanding - it’s not as if there aren’t any good-looking dark-haired actors around). And the games never once mention he’s got some supernatural powers...

So, are you really alone in the dark? Or is there something just outside the circle of light?

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