DAY 9 – CHAPTER 8
TIME SPENT: 6-7 Hours
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 7 (Flaming Roots, Blazing Roots, Hidden Cave, The Path of Darkness, THE LIGHT BRINGER, A Day in Central Park, The Path of Light)
FOCUS: Game as a whole
At long last, the final level of Alone in the Dark! This one is a lot like the last level, in that you spend a good amount of time burning Roots of Evil around the park. Strangely, while there are more of them to destroy, they are much easier for the most part. There are really only two that require puzzle solving, and then there is a group of 5 or 6 on a sort of island where you have to go on foot (and supplies, as usual, are limited). Of course, you don’t need to destroy them all, but you get an achievement for doing so, and it makes a later task much easier to complete. See, killing the roots raises your spectral vision, which allows you to see “hidden” things after you blink your eyes. The more SV you have, the longer the hidden things stay visible. So it’s definitely worth getting as many roots as possible, especially since the barrier your SV allows you to see can cause damage if you accidentally touch it.
Once all the roots are destroyed, you enter a dungeon. And oddly, for the rest of the game you don’t have to really fight anything. You solve an Indiana Jones-style series of booby trap puzzles (hard, but not annoyingly so), and then find some dude who looks like Dhalism at the bottom of the cave or whatever. Then you re-enact that one scene from Hitchhiker’s Guide (“I design fjords”) and go outside.
What follows is yet another annoying driving sequence. It’s the least problematic of the three, but again, there is a jump you need to complete, and random game shit causes your car to lose momentum. Basically, you have to drive up to the end of it, let everything activate (thorns rising from the ground, explosions, etc). Then back up and gun it forward again. And after that, the game is essentially over, you have a bunch of cutscenes in which you do almost nothing in between. The ending is incredibly half-assed – people complained about Halo 2? This one is far more “What? THAT’s the end?”
In the end, I didn’t hate it, but it was very disappointing in several key areas, and what makes it frustrating is how many of them have obvious solutions. Driving sequences? Allow you to get another car if your first one gets stuck. Control scheme? Allow 3rd person shooting and reassign buttons to make a bit more sense. Black liquid? Give you a chance to jump out of it with a health penalty instead of instant death. Also, I didn’t mind the limited inventory space (and many reviews complained about the fact you get attacked while in your inventory, an issue I never really encountered), but I really wish the game would let you put whatever you want in the inventory slots that ARE open. For example, you can only put tape, ammo, and Molotov wicks in the LEFT side of your jacket, for some reason – even more annoying when two left slots are permanently used by a puzzle item and your lighter), and you may have open slots on the RIGHT side.
And maybe, you know, write a goddamn ending.
And really, there is a lot of the game that is truly great. Without all of the glitches, the first driving sequence (59th Street) is one of the most exhilarating game sequences in recent memory (its like the one at the end of Halo 1 and 3, only far more destructive and nerve-wracking). The puzzle system is one of the best of its kind, and the graphics are above average (not quite Gears of War, but better than the rather bland and soft Halo 3). I didn’t care much for the dialogue (too much useless profanity – and that is ME saying this), and the story is sort of generic (amnesia, a human being the key to the rebirth of some ancient evil...), but that would have been easily forgivable had the aforementioned smaller problems been wiped out. Unfortunately, you add those things together, and all of the great things the game offers are sort of negated. It’s a game that’s like 90% great and 10% awful, but that 10% really does a lot of damage.
I would recommend a rental. Some folks have claimed that they had no problem with the game at all, passing through the sequences I’ve mentioned without any difficulty. The skip function is definitely a plus if you want to see what you’re in for before making a purchase. And hell, maybe there’s a patch on the way that will correct some things. The game is thisclose to being great, but for now it’s a tough sell at 60 bucks.
Sound (including acting/dialogue): 7/10