Alone in the Dark review: Original survival horror resurrected & on form

Sam Smith
alone in the dark logo over street screenshot

The Alone in the Dark reboot is here and avoids the pitfalls of previous entries. Here’s what we thought of this spooky reimagining of the series.

While the Resident Evil series may have coined the term survival horror, it was the original Alone in the Dark game that inspired Capcom’s legendary zombie franchise. The series often doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but this is largely down to its many sequels and reboots failing to live up to the original. Like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, the Alone in the Dark games got more action-packed over the years but lost their identity and what made the original so special.

While Alone in the Dark (2024) technically isn’t the first time the series has been rebooted, it’s the only one to go back to the original game, take what made it a classic, and modernize the experience for a new generation. This is exactly what the series needed and it’s nice to have the franchise back doing what it does best – creeping us out with ghoulish monsters, fiendish puzzles, and spooky Lovecraftian storytelling.

Alone in the Dark: Key details

  • Price: £32/$44.99
  • Developer: Pieces Interactive
  • Release Date: March 20, 2024
  • Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PS5, PC

Alone in the Dark trailer

Wiping the slate clean

For those who are new to Alone in the Dark, this 2024 reboot is an ideal starting point. For those who are familiar with the series, forget everything but the original trilogy. That’s because if this new game is successful, THQ Nordic could make sequels based on the original Alone in the Dark 2 and 3, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Our point is this reboot (loosely at times) reimagines the original Alone in the Dark, and anything that came after the original series’ PS1 era is best forgotten.

Like the original game, Alone in the Dark tells the story of Emily Hartwood (Jodie Comer) and private investigator Edward Carnby (David Harbour) traveling to Derceto Manor, a home for the “mentally fatigued”, to investigate the disappearance of Jeremy Hartwood, who is Emily’s uncle. Jeremy has been dabbling with some dark powers and has unleashed something horrific on the inhabitants of Derceto and the surrounding city of New Orleans, thrusting Emily and Edward into a battle for their lives.

The game essentially combines elements of the original Alone in the Dark with all the present-day trappings of the survival horror genre as seen in games like the Resident Evil remakes and Alan Wake 2. It successfully manages to feel both modern and be a traditional survival horror experience at the same time – a balance some games like this often struggle to get right. It employs the “over the shoulder” aiming style to shoot monsters but doesn’t dilute the experience by descending into mindless action. However, the combat does increase as the game goes on.

If you’re expecting the action to be on the same level as games like Resident Evil 4 or Alan Wake 2, you’ll be left disappointed. While we found the shooting mechanics to be solid, close-quarter combat was often clunky. When playing the game on normal difficulty, we found plenty of ammo and health so we mostly stuck to firearms for the duration. Throwing a bottle to attract the attention of shuffling zombie-like enemies and then dropping them with a well-placed headshot was often satisfying and many of the monsters truly are nightmare fuel.

alone in the dark gameplay
If an enemy isn’t an immediate threat, consider saving your ammo.

Traditional survival horror returns

Old-school Resident Evil and Silent Hill fans will love it, as the game ensures its atmosphere and locations are always creepy and even the most mundane corridor is dripping in dread, with a dank, oppressive feeling always hanging over proceedings. As players unlock more rooms and wings of Derceto Manor, the more clues they’ll unlock. Not only does this drive the story and gameplay forward, but it also makes the game progressively scarier which we thought was a nice touch. The more you learn, the more you’ll wish you hadn’t.

Solving the mystery is at the heart of the gameplay, after all, that’s what the protagonists are there to do. For the most part, Derceto Manor is a safe hub where players can explore, solve puzzles, chat with NPCs, and read notes left by various characters. These notes flesh out the lore of Alone in the Dark and also provide vital clues to solving puzzles or learning the true nature of some characters. After reaching certain points, players will enter the nightmares and memories of Jeremy and this is when the survival horror really kicks in.

After completing these segments, players will then return to the Manor, often with new items or information needed to complete more puzzles or unlock new areas. However, Derceto Manor will gradually become more corrupted and dangerous as players begin to unlock the truth behind Jeremy’s disappearance and the dark forces at play.

The game also makes masterful use of its setting, with the streets of New Orleans and surrounding swamps featuring as locations for the game’s more action-heavy settings. While Derceto Manor serves as a hub, the nightmare and memory segments take players to various locations, each one creepier than the last – and usually full of monsters to blast/avoid and secrets to unearth.

alone in the dark monster
Some enemies truly are nightmare fuel.

The Verdict 4/5

Alone in the Dark never quite reaches the dizzying heights of the Resident Evil 4 remake or Alan Wake 2, but it’s still a worthy addition to this new golden age of survival horror we find ourselves in. It’s also fitting for the series that inspired Resident Evil to now borrow from the very thing it inspired. We also found strands of DNA from Silent Hill, The Evil Within, and The Last of Us sprinkled throughout the experience, all while Alone in the Dark re-establishes its own identity in this space.

Those looking for a third-person action shooter may lose patience with Alone in the Dark. However, those looking for a traditional survival horror experience, one with its PS1 roots still slightly visible, might be reminded why they fell in love with the genre to begin with. The main takeaway though, is that Alone in the Dark is finally back, playing to its strengths, and catering to those who’ve missed it.

Reviewed on PS5

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About The Author

Sam is a Senior Games Writer for Dexerto specializing in Survival Horror, Diablo, Final Fantasy, and Soulslikes. An NCTJ accredited journalist, Sam also holds a degree in journalism from the University of Central Lancashire and has many years of experience as a professional writer. Being able to marry his love of writing with his addiction to video games was always one of his life goals. He also loves all things PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo in equal measure. Contact at