Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Game Boy Color)
|Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare
Game Boy Color - USA - 1st edition.
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is a survival horror video game developed by Pocket Studios and published by Infogrames for the Game Boy Color on 2001-05-18. It is the portable port of the big budget home console release with the same title, and the fourth game in the Alone in the Dark series. But, although it has a similar story line, it's a markedly different game. When the series was rebooted in 2008, all versions of this title were dropped from the series canon.
In the game, you once again play as investigator Edward Carnby, only the game is set in 2001, not the 1920s, and Carnby is much younger. You are contacted by an archeologist named Aline Cedrac who breaks the news that your close mutual friend, Charles Fiske, has been murdered. Cedrac offers to fly you to the scene of the crime and, along the way, explains that your friend Fiske was investigating the eccentric multi-millionaire Alan Morton who was buying up artifacts created by ancient Indians believing they could grant him dark powers. Fiske believed Morton was trying to use the power of the artifacts to take over the world, so he went to Morton's mansion on Shadow Island to try and stop him, but was murdered in the process. You reach the island in hopes of infiltrating the mansion, but you quickly discover deadly monsters lurking about.
I saw this game on several lists of the best or underrated Game Boy Color games, and, since I was also familiar with the franchise, I decided to play it, but I was not impressed.
Best Version: Game Boy Color
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The developers tried to do something pretty ambitious for the Game Boy Color, they made the whole game based on full-screen pre-rendered 3D backgrounds. Most GBC ports were completely different from their 3D console originals because the portable GPU was far too weak to render 3D graphics, but these developers really tried to make the game function like a 3D game. They even made the main character look like he is made with scaled vectors. Obviously, he's not, but it almost looks like it does.
- There are scores of complex unique background scenes which really takes advantage of the 4 MB ROM. The large variety of graphics is pretty impressive for a GBC game.
- The game was translated into six different languages.
- Although there are a lot of graphics, they all look pretty awful. The GBC just doesn't have the visual fidelity to display convincing pre-rendered 3D images, so everything looks blurry and grainy.
- Most of the game lacks background music. I'm not sure if this was the result of an unfinished game or a purposeful design decision to make it feel eerie, but it doesn't work. The absence of ambient sound for most of the game really kills the mood. There are some areas that have sound effects, but they sound bad.
- Nearly everything important in the game is highlighted with a flashing light. This makes finding items trivial, and, since there aren't many items in the game, it pretty much solves most of the puzzles for you. Although, there are a couple that don't make sense like the skeleton key only working on certain locks and the gardening gloves protecting you from high voltage electricity.
- If you ever run out of bullets, you get a game over, which is kind of stupid. Why can't Carnby use melee weapons?
- There is a bright flash of white on the GBC each time you change rooms. This is pretty annoying in a game where most everything is otherwise dark, and rather blinding when playing at night.
- Most of the rooms in the game are completely empty, and several more have only a dull description. This makes the game too close to a walking simulator for my liking.
- It took me a lot of wandering to find the staircase in the library. This was due to a combination of the poor graphics and unpredictable screen transitions.
- The script typeface is hard to read.
- When you return to the mansion, several doors that were once accessible suddenly are not. I assume the designers did this to prevent the player from directionless wandering, but the doors just cease to open without any explanation for why. A plausible message could have solved this problem.
- There are at least two locks (a door and a chest) that, as far as I can tell, can never be opened. I don't like it when designers do this. It makes me feel like I missed something important.
- Aline never contacts Carnby in the second half of the game until the very end saying she was trying to contact him for hours. He says he was underground which is why she couldn't reach him, but, he was actually above ground for much of that time.
- During combat, the background colors sometimes get a little buggy.
- The game just isn't very enjoyable. It's not very scary, it's not very challenging, and the story is very generic. I was bored through most of it.
- Combat is tiresome for several reasons:
- Your character has a very slow movement rate.
- There are only three generic enemies through the entire game, and they all fight in the same manner.
- The isometric perspective makes it difficult to aim.
- All of the weapons are very similar.
- Most of the battles occur without warning and aren't meaningful at all.
- A player with normal skill is not given enough ammo or healing potions to finish the game, so, if you want to win, you will have to take advantage of save scumming. Save frequently, and, even if you survive combat, if you take several hits or miss several shots, reload and do it again. If you don't, you'll find that you've saved yourself into a corner because you'll have to fight several mandatory battles on little health or ammo, especially later in the game. If you're lucky, you'll realize this before it happens, but it makes the game tedious, and, by replaying the same battles several times in a row, it ruins the game's tension. You should also avoid every non-necessary battle, and, if you find yourself in one, reload and avoid it.
- Navigation around the game map is painful. Each scene is presented from a different perspective, so you have to use the directions Carnby is facing to reorient yourself. This is especially annoying when north and south flip and you end up moving right back into the room you just came from. There also aren't any visual cues to tell when you're going to abruptly transition into another room, it always happens without warning.
- Each time a text dialog pops up there is an annoying background music which is made even more jarring due to the lack of sound throughout most of the game.
The boxes use the same art as the AAA game, just with a different cropping. The art is quite nice and hits all the tropes of the horror genre.
|Strong female character?
|Aline Cedrac is just a plot device.
|There is only one woman.
|Strong person of color character?
|Everyone is white.
|There are no queer characters.