Atari has announced that Alone in the Dark: Illumination will receive a private beta from January 29th. Access will only be given to those preorder the final game through Steam.
Alone in the Dark is one of the longest-running horror franchises in the games industry. First debuting back in 1992 on PC, the series enjoyed enough success to warrant a further 2 sequels. Unfrotunately, the release of Capcom’s Resident Evil on PS One in 1996 signalled the start of a lengthy period of difficulty for franchise. While 2001’s The New Nightmare was well-received by critics, it failed to perform well at retail, leading to a 7-year hiatus. When the next game arrived in 2008, it was widely criticized due to awkward controls, difficulty with the game’s camera, and a nonsensical plot.
Don’t even get us started on the horrendous film adaptation starring Christian Slater, direct by Uwe “how the hell does he manage to make money?” Boll. Derided by fans and critics alike, it holds a 1% rating on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 117 reviews, and is considered by many to be one of the worst films ever made.
So it was with trepidation that we learned last year that Atari intended to resurrect the series, with the new game helmed by little-known studio Pure FPS. The fact that the game is due for release this Spring, barely 6 months since it was first announced, is also a cause for concern. And then there’s the matter that it’s going to be a four-player co-op game. Can the series honestly recapture the sense of dread that typified the originals when there’s 3 other players all running around?
Well, now gamers will be able to find out for themselves. In Illumination, players will need to investigate strange goings-on in the town of Lorwich, Virginia. Playing in either single-player or co-op, you’ll choose from one of four distinct roles – Engineer, Hunter, Witch and Priest – battling through otherworldly horrors and lighting up safe points which illuminate monsters, allowing you to harm them (it sounds vaguely similar to the kind of action seen in Remedy’s Alan Wake). As you progress, you’ll be able to level up your character’s skills, though there’s no information on what those will be. A new round of screenshots, which you can see below, show off the game’s visuals. The character models seem decent, if nothing to write home about, though I have to admit the fire effects look rather nice, at least in still shots.
Following the initial private beta, there will apparently be one final beta ahead of the Game’s launch. Beyond this, information is scarce, perhaps worryingly so. We’d normally expect more information to be available at this point, especially given that Atari is already taking preorders and asking them to put money down before being able to try it out.
We’ve requested an access code from the publisher in the hope that we can get some hands-on time with the beta and write a full preview. Despite my concerns, I have to say that I remain hopeful that something of the series’ appeal remains intact, despite the seemingly action-oriented shift in gameplay. The original games involved far more puzzles than combat – more so even than the early Resident Evil games. And the period settings, which drew in influences from H.P Lovecraft, Voodoo myth and featured zombie gangsters, remain rather unique to this day.
Fingers crossed. Check out the latest trailer below.