Image via THQ Nordic

Alone in the Dark Preview: David Harbour & Jodie Comer Take AitD Back to 1924

Can a full reboot and a little star power finally give Alone in the Dark the audience it deserves?

1992’s Alone in the Dark is frequently credited as one of the games that started the genre that came to be known as survival horror. The original trilogy was a hit on PCs in the early ‘90s, and in 2001, it had a successful reboot with the Resident Evil-inspired The New Nightmare on PSX and Dreamcast.

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This should’ve rightly been the point when AitD became a solid name in horror gaming, but then somebody let Uwe Boll get his hands on the license in 2005. That laid a curse on AitD’s name for the next decade, which culminated in the widely panned 2015 online co-op game Illumination.

2023 has been the year for big horror comebacks, though, so if AitD can ever move past Boll, it’s now. THQ Nordic bought the rights to Alone in the Dark from Atari in 2018, and is preparing to reboot AitD for a third time in October.

Screenshot by Pieces Interactive/THQ Nordic

The new Alone in the Dark is a ground-up remake of the original game from 1992, developed by Pieces Interactive (Magika 2) with a script by Mikael Hedberg (SOMA, Amnesia: Rebirth) and the blessing of original AitD creator Frédérick Raynal. It brings AitD up to modern standards, with a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective and motion-captured real performances for all its characters.

THQ Nordic and Pieces showed us a short pre-recorded presentation as an official first look at the new AitD, with Hedberg as the presenter. Like the original, it’s set right between World War I and the start of the Great Depression, in a period that Hedberg calls “antebellum horror,” with a slow, noir-infused soundtrack by dark jazz performer Jason Köhnen.

Screenshot by Pieces Interactive/THQ Nordic

In 1920s Louisiana, the artist Jeremy Hartwood has died under strange circumstances. Officially, it was a suicide, but Jeremy’s niece Emily (Jodie Comer, Killing Eve) doesn’t believe that. She’s hired a private investigator, Edward Carnby (David Harbour, Stranger Things) to come with her to Jeremy’s home, the Derceto mansion, to find out what’s actually going on.

In the original game, you could play as either Emily or Edward, who investigated Derceto independently of one another. Now, they’re partners in a potential murder investigation, and both offer different perspectives on the events of the game.

Derceto in the original AitD was largely abandoned, except for the ghosts and monsters that’d try to kill you. In the 2023 edition, people still live in Derceto, and you’ll have to speak with them to get more details about what happened to Jeremy Hartwood. Edward’s the actual detective, so he’s got the investigation chops here, but the people at Derceto know Emily, and will tell her things they wouldn’t share with Edwards.

At one point during the presentation, Hedberg described the process of working on AitD as “cultivating a seed that was planted 30 years ago.” There’s at least one shout-out to later games in the series in the reboot, such as the appearance of Grace Saunders, a young girl who wasn’t introduced in the original series until 1993’s Alone in the Dark 2.

That suggests the Alone in the Dark remake may also serve as the start of a greater exploration of AitD’s original pulp-horror setting, which the series hasn’t touched since the conclusion of the original trilogy.

Screenshot by Pieces Interactive/THQ Nordic

None of this is to say that Alone in the Dark 2023 is a walking simulator. The presentation I saw featured a few brief glimpses of combat as both Edward and Emily used revolvers, double-barreled shotguns, and improvised melee weapons to deal with an assortment of monsters.

Hedberg briefly mentioned that the game will feature puzzles, with options to determine how much help you want with solving them, as well as an ominous slow corruption that will overtake the mansion as you search for clues as to what happened to Jeremy Hartwood.

Alone in the Dark is planned for release on October 15, 2023, for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, for an MSRP of $59.99.

Starting on May 25, digital storefronts are offering a demo that serves as a prologue to the events of the game, set a couple of weeks beforehand and starring Grace Saunders. We were told the demo features no combat, and is considered an early peek at the game’s overall atmosphere. It’s also the second time Grace has featured in a free promotional prequel, after 1993’s Jack in the Dark.

Fans who pre-order Alone in the Dark will receive a “1992 Costume Pack” that allows you to equip Edward with an ultra-pixellated throwback costume. The digital deluxe edition of the game features other extras, such as a sepia-tinted visual filter and a director’s commentary mode, featuring Hedberg and original AitD creator Frédérick Raynal.

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Thomas Wilde
Survival horror enthusiast. Veteran of the print era. Comic book nerd.