DAY 7/8 – CHAPTER 7
TIME SPENT: 7 Hours
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 3 (Burning Root, Free Gasoline, THE PATH OF LIGHT)
Anyone who claims I have no patience has clearly never seen me play Alone in the Dark. This is definitely a make or break it level, and I admit, I came very close to just skipping it entirely, especially when after putting it down for a while and coming back, discovering that my progress was not saved and thus I had to redo the first 2/3 of the level all over again (or else not get the Achievement – which I had earned, dammit!).
In an apparent attempt to make up for the relatively easy and enjoyable previous level, this one just annoys you almost all the way through. You start off hanging by a rope, and need to climb up as shit falls down on you. Then you have to climb another rope as Ratz descend shooting their blinding acid spit at you. To shoot them you have to stop, take out your gun, aim, and fire (sometimes twice). By then they usually have the acid in your face which causes you to fall. Fall enough and you simply plummet to your death. After this monstrosity, you have to kill 8-9 Humanz with almost zero supplies, including a knife thrower who you need to shoot in the back to kill (he occasionally turns around but only briefly). Finally, things calm down for a bit as you make your way out of the subway station and into the park once again.
Once there, you need to find and burn x amount of “Roots Of Evil” in order to get your “Spectral Vision” high enough. This is merely an excuse to lengthen the game a bit, but it’s actually kind of fun for the most part. You still have to deal with bad controls and inventory issues, but at least you’re sort of in an open world and can approach it however you want. If one root is causing you problems (about half of them take some puzzle-solving to destroy) you can move on to another, or target practice on Humanz, or simply do the bare minimum and move on (you only need to take out I think 8 or 9 of the roots, there are like 15 around though).
Moving on means heading to a castle and solving another puzzle, completing a mini boss fight, and dealing with some more annoying black liquid, adding another half hour to this already lengthy level. Even if you never died and did only the bare minimum amount of root burning, it would take at least 2 hrs to complete. It took me about 6-7 (factoring in having to do the first 2/3 of the level twice), hence the two day session (it’s the first time I didn’t have time to beat a level in one sitting, let alone one day).
On the plus note, the varying locations gave me the opportunity to marvel at the game’s visuals. For all its problems, this is a damn good looking game and almost demands a nice HD presentation. There is a lot of variety here. Mass Effect is a great game, but every dungeon looked exactly the same. Not the case here, it’s very rare you find yourself in an indoor location that even resembles another, and the outdoor Central Park is also far from repetitive (lakes, sporting areas, a few odd buildings and restrooms, etc). Edward’s character animation is also quite good; especially when he is injured (he gets visual wounds all over his body). And of course, the fire effects are phenomenal, especially when you set a door or something ablaze and watch it spread and burn like a real fire would. The cutscenes are also usually quite good, if not particularly taxing (no FMV, it’s all in engine stuff). I almost wish the sun would come out during the park levels, if only to fully enjoy the scenery.
Out of nowhere difficulty aside, this was actually a pretty good level, due to the various things you have to do and exploration aspects. Supplies could be easier to come by in the park (it’s often quicker to just go back to the castle than look around in the park itself for bottles and meds, which usually results in you attracting the attention of a few Humanz). But the schizo “sometimes great sometimes awful” nature of the game is growing tiresome. With only one level to go (which looks to be another lengthy one), I’m now just looking forward to being done with it more than I am excited to sit down and actually play it. Bummer.