Alone in the Dark (series)

From Academic Kids

Alone in the Dark is a series of survival horror computer games from Infogrames (now Atari). In most of the series, the gamer plays as private investigator Edward Carnby, who usually goes to investigate a haunted mansion or town that is full of undead creatures. The storyline of the original game was based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, although later games in the series drew inspiration from other sources including Voodoo, the Wild West, and the works of H.R. Giger.

In 2005, an Alone in the Dark movie was released. A direct sequel to the fourth game in the series, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, the movie has little to no relation to the original trilogy from the 1990s. The movie contains plot elements that directly contradict those in The New Nightmare, thus whether it's considered canonical debatable.

Production on a fifth installment of Alone in the Dark was confirmed when screenwriters of the movie stated that the director, Uwe Boll, looked over preliminary monster art from the new game to get inspiration for the film's creatures. However, no such game has sinced surfaced. It's presumed that development of this title evolved into Cold Fear.


Game list

The series, as of 2004, contains the following games:

Title Year Publisher
Alone in the Dark 1992 Interplay
Alone in the Dark 2 1994 Interplay
Jack in the Dark 1994 Interplay
Alone in the Dark 3 1995 Interplay
Alone in the Dark: One-Eyed Jack's Revenge(*) 1996 Electronic Arts, Infogrames
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare 2001 Infogrames

(*) port of Dark 2 to PlayStation

The Games

Alone in the Dark

The original game in the series, and one of the first two games to use polygonal characters over pre-rendered backgrounds. Widely considered to be the first survival-horror game.

Players are given the option of chosing between a male or female character (Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood), and are then trapped inside the haunted mansion of Derceto after dark. Players are then tasked with exploring the mansion for a way out while being assaulted by supernatural enemies including zombies, giant bipedal rat-like creatures, and other even more bizarre foes. However, combat only plays a partial role in the gameplay. For example, the total number of zombies throughout the entire game is only about a dozen, and many monsters are meant to be defeated through puzzle-solving rather than a straight fight. Much of the game involves exploration and puzzle-solving, and searching the house for clues to advance the story.

The story is broadcast to the player through an extensive series of books and notes found throughout the game, and is heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Alone in the Dark 2

The sequel to the original Alone in the Dark but viewed as a drastic depature from the original game. Alone in the Dark 2 is much more action-oriented than its predecessor, with a much greater emphasis on firearms and shootouts, and resultingly more difficult combat.

The original game's horror theme has been significantly de-emphasized in the sequel. While there are some supernatural goings-on, the main emphasis is on gangsters and pirates, making the game appear to be more inspired by The Goonies than H.P. Lovecraft. Instead of bizarre, supernatural monsters, the player spends the entire game facing off against gangsters armed with tommyguns (the gangsters have blue skin, green blood, and are apparently supernatural in nature, but they behave like "normal" gangsters with tommyguns).

The game is also significantly more linear than the original. In the original game, the player has access to most of the mansion from the beginning. In Alone in the Dark 2, the player's progress is deliberately shoehorned through the use of locked doors and heavily guarded rooms, forcing a more linear path through the game. The game world is larger than that of the original, however, encompassing not only the mansion, but also the surrounding gardens as well as a pirate ship hidden in caverns beneath the house.

Alone in the Dark 2 introduced the concept of playing as more than one character within the same game. Although much of the game is spend playing as Carnby, the player will occasionally take control of Grace Saunders. Grace, a child, cannot fight and is instantly captured if the gangsters spot her, so instead she must sneak around and defeat the gangsters by turning common household objects into booby traps.

Later versions of Alone in the Dark 2 come packaged with Jack in the Dark, a short adventure featuring the young child Grace Saunders. Locked in a small toy store after dark, Grace must save Santa Claus from an evil Jack-in-the-box. Jack in the Dark is a pure adventure game that focuses purely on puzzles and has no combat.

Alone in the Dark 3

The final game in the original trilogy and the last game to utilize the same engine and characters as the original game. Alone in the Dark 3 attempts to return to the gameplay style of the original game. Although the primary enemies are still human-like characters with firearms, combat has been de-emphasized a bit and isn't quite as hard. Carnby is often presented with opportunities to flee from enemies or defeat them using non-combat means, and there is a greater emphasis on solving puzzles. Also, because enemies are armed with six-shooters rather than tommyguns, the player can survive more direct hits than in Alone in the Dark 2.

The main theme of this game is the Wild West, as Carnby is pitted against a town filled with "zombie cowboys" who attack him with six-shooters and lever-action rifles. More traditionally mindless, shambling zombies begin to appear about mid-way through the game. Towards the end of the game, the concept of radioactive mutation plays a significant role in the story, and the player ends up fighting a few monstrous creatures created from such radiation.

Like Alone in the Dark 2, this game is much more linear than the original. While Slaughter Gulch is a large, open town, most paths are blocked off by a pair of invincible gunslingers who kill you if you get near them. This shoehorns you into entering and exploring the buildings in a specific order.

Alone in the Dark 3 features a greater variety of gameplay, including sequences in which you play as a mountain lion that Carnby has been transformed into.

Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare

The next generation of the Alone in the Dark franchise, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare was created as a console survival horror game and shows significant influence from the Resident Evil series. The control scheme and gameplay is much closer to that of Resident Evil than the original Alone in the Dark games.

The game's story is a return to the pure horror atmosphere of the original, with nary a "Voodoo Pirate Gangster" or "Zombie Cowboy" to be seen. However, while the original game used the Cthulhu mythos to explain the supernatural goings-on, New Nightmare leans more toward biological horror of the H.R. Giger variety, with the enemies being more alien than phantasmal.

The player takes the role of either Edward Carnby (a rugged paranormal investigator) or Aline Cedrac (a feisty scholarly type), and find themselves marooned on Shadow Island, a haunted place where the shadows are rumored to come alive. The player soon comes under attack from "Creatures of Darkness" that appear out of nowhere and seem to be living shadows. These "Creatures of Darkness" are eventually revealed to be reptilian, silicon-based lifeforms from the center of the Earth, an enormous world of dark caverns known as the "World of Darkness". Shadow Island apparently contains one of the many entrances to this underground world. True to their name, the game's enemies are averse to light (which apparently turns them into sand), and this figures heavily in gameplay. Players can use their flashlight to repel certain creatures, and killing them is accomplished with such light-producing ammunition as "magnesium bullets" and "phosphorus shells".

Light plays a significant role in this game. One of the game's main gimmicks is the use of a flashlight that players can use to light up the game's darkened pre-rendered screens, revealing hidden details and uncovering items.

Other than the name of the game's protagonist, there is no apparent direct storyline connection between this game and the original trilogy.


The Original Trilogy

  • Edward Carnby:

The protagonist of the original trilogy, Carnby is a red-haired, mustachioed private detective who wears a neat suit and bowtie. Carnby was once a seedy private detective known as "The Reptile", investigating adulterous husbands and the like. One day, he was hired to go to the remote manor of Derceto and appraise its contents following the suicide of the owner, Jeremy Hartwood. Trapped overnight in the haunted mansion, Carnby eventually manages to defeat the supernatural forces threatening him and escape, earning him the nickname "The Supernatural Detective". Additional paranormal adventures would follow. In Alone in the Dark 2 he explores the fortified mansion of Hell's Kitchen to rescue Grace Saunders from One-Eyed Jack's gangsters, and avenge the death of his partner Stryker. In Alone in the Dark 3, he explores the ghost town of Slaughter Gulch to investigate the disappearance of Emily Hartwood's film crew.

Carnby is one of the few survival horror protagonists who can punch a zombie to death using only his bare hands. However, when the zombies start carrying firearms in later games, this tactic becomes slightly less effective.

  • Emily Hartwood:

The second playable character in the original Alone in the Dark game. Other than the fact she fired the revolver one-handed with the other hand on her hip instead of with both hands, playing as her was exactly the same as playing as Carnby. The niece of Jeremy Hartwood, Emily went to Derceto to investigate the apparent suicide of her uncle there. Although in the original game, only Emily OR Carnby enter Derceto (not both), the series' continuity seems to suggest they both were trapped together and fought their way out. After the Derceto incident, Emily would go on to become a successful Hollywood film producer. In Alone in the Dark 3, she and her crew disappear while shooting a Western in the ghost town of Slaughter Gulch, and it is eventually revealed that she has been kidnapped and possessed by the disturbed ghosts of the town's outlaw inhabitants. She is freed by Carnby, and there are a couple brief sequences in which the player takes control of Emily to help Carnby escape from a trap or other predicament.

  • Grace Saunders:

A young girl from a wealthy family, Grace is kidnapped by One-Eyed Jack's crew and held at Jack's mansion of Hell's Kitchen. On several occasions, Carnby is captured at the same time Grace manages to escape, and the player takes control of Grace in attempts to rescue Carnby. Being only a small child, Grace cannot fight and runs very slowly, so instead she must hide from the gangsters while cobbling together Home Alone-style boobytraps to dispatch them.

Grace also stars in Jack in the Dark, a short adventure in which she uses her puzzle-solving skills to rescue Santa Claus from an evil "One-Eyed Jack" Jack-in-the-box.

  • Ezejial Pregzt/Eliah Pickford:

The original Alone in the Dark villain. In 1620, Pregzt was one of the world's most bloodthirsty pirates. He was also heavily involved with the occult, and one day left his crew to disappear into the swamps of Louisiana. Pregzt learned dark sorcery and became a disciple of Cthulhu, gaining occult powers and immortality. He eventually took the name Eliah Pickford, and used his vast pirate wealth to found a Louisana plantation mansion by the name of Derceto. Pickford hired workers to dig a vast, secret network of caverns below Derceto. Pickford apparently intended these caverns for supernatural purposes, and they connected to a large, natural subterranean chamber linked to the Old Ones. Pickford was killed before he was able to summon Cthulhu into the world, after he attempted to poison a Union Captain named Norton while soldiers bunked at Derceto.

Although his body was dead, Pregzt did not truly die. His corpse was brought to the subterranean chamber by his servants, where it was placed on a throne carved out of a vast underground tree. Pregzt's body merged with the tree and became a mummified corpse that harbored Pregzt's spirit. Although Pregzt was trapped within the shell of his corpse, he was still able to exert influence on the world above. He invaded the dreams of the Hartwood family after they rebuilt and reoccupied Derceto. Pregzt intended to possess the body of a Hartwood and continue his work in summoning Cthulhu, but each Hartwood died before Pregzt could possess them. In the original Alone in the Dark game, the attacking zombies are Pregzt's attempts to immobilize Carnby or Emily so that they can be possessed. However, Carnby and Emily manage to defeat Pregzt's creatures, and confront him in his subterranean tomb, where Pregzt's corpse fires magical fireballs and is defended by an army of Deep Ones. Carnby eventually manages to defeat Pregzt's magic with a Yael sign and burns Pregzt's corpse using a lantern (which has special significance, as it happens to be the first item the player acquires in the game).

Pregzt/Pickford appears to be at least partially inspired by the character Robert Sudyam from the H.P. Lovecraft story The Horror at Red Hook.

  • One-Eyed Jack

The main villain of Alone in the Dark 2, One-Eyed Jack is an infamous Louisiana bootlegger who makes his hideout in the forbidding mansion of Hell's Kitchen. As his name implies, he wears an eyepatch to cover a missing eye. In reality, Jack is an ancient pirate who gained immortality of a sort after allying with Elizabeth Jarret, a powerful Voodoo witch. Jack's gangsters are actually his pirate crew who have lived for hundreds of years as a result a spell that gives them eternal youth and regenerates their bodies hours after they are killed. However, the spell requires the periodic human sacrifice of innocents, which is where Grace Saunders comes in. Unlike his crew, whose bodies can temporarily be destroyed, Jack himself is nearly indestructible. Jack is also an extremely skilled fighter, wielding two swords and fighting with an extremely quick and deadly martial arts style. In the game's finale, Carnby duels Jack one-on-one and eventually manages to defeat him using the sword of Captain Nichols (a man from Jack's pirate days who swore eternal revenge after Jack killed him). With large chunks of his flesh missing, a half-skeletal Jack revives briefly, only to be permenantly destroyed when Carnby blows up Jack's pirate ship with Jack on it.

  • Elizabeth Jarret

One-Eyed Jack's Voodoo Queen, Elizabeth Jarret has lived for several centuries through extensive use of black magic. She eventually hooks up with Jack's crew of pirates, giving them immortality through regular human sacrifices. Elizabeth's magic allows her to remotely view occurances throughout the house, manipulate inanimate objects (she brings a clown doll to life to kill Stryker with), and summon horrible creatures from beyond. Her powers also make it impossible for Carnby to fight or kill her (as soon as he even steps into the same room as her, she simply immobilizes him with a Voodoo doll and causes his body to float in the air), but she is eventually killed when Grace manages to turn her own Voodoo magic against her (by brandishing a chicken leg).

  • Jebediah Stone

The main villain of Alone in the Dark 3. During the Wild West era, Jebediah Stone was a prospector who discovered gold on Indian soil. Word soon spread of the discovery, and soon prospectors came to mine the gold, killing the Indians in the process. Jeb Stone founded the town of Slaughter Gulch on their land over the site of the gold mine (which also lay on top of a canyon along the San Andreas Fault). Stone and his fellow outlaws ruled with cruelty and lawlessness, but were eventually killed when the local blacksmith rallied the town citizens against him. The ghosts of Stone and his cronies are disturbed when Emily Hartwood's film crew comes to Slaughter Gulch to film a movie, killing the crew one by one and eventually taking physical form.

Jeb appears several times throughout the game, always just out of the main character's reach, until the game's final battle. Unlike the series' previous villains, Jeb has no apparent supernatural powers, instead relying on technology and his trusty Winchester rifle to obstruct Carnby's progress.

A diary discovered late in the game reveals that Stone is, improbably enough, the son of Ezejial Pregzt and Elizabeth Jarret. He was raised in an orphanage but disappeared one night after a mysterious fire destroyed it. It is also revealed that Stone discovered an evil ore in his mine (hinted to be Uranium), from which he planned to create a bomb powerful enough to crack the San Andreas Fault and sink California into the ocean (apparently, ancient Indian legends stated that the man powerful enough to accomplish this would be granted dominion over the Earth). Stone's resurrection allowed him to continue his mining operation and pursue his goal of destroying California. In the game's finale, Stone puts on a primative suit of Power Armor (complete with arm cannon) to battle Carnby with, but is defeated when Carnby uses ancient Indian spirits (and a large dose of electricity) to disintegrate Stone.

The New Nightmare

  • Edward Carnby: One of the game's playable characters. Carnby's path involves more combat and fewer puzzles than Aline's. This new Carnby is younger and edgier than his predecessor, with long hair and a more "Goth" appearance. Also unlike the original Carnby, who was an ordinary private detective who kept being unwittingly thrust into supernatural cases, this new Carnby is apparently an Agent Mulder-style paranormal investigator specializing in battling the occult. Other than the name, he does not appear to have any relation to the Edward Carnby of the original trilogy. Carnby goes to Shadow Island to investigate the death of his partner Charles Fiske (similar to the Carnby's arrival at Hell's Kitchen to investigate the death of his partner Stryker in Alone in the Dark 2). His signature weapon is a double-barreled revolver, which looks impressive but deals the exact same amount of damage as Aline's "regular" single-barreled revolver. Throughout the game, he proves sarcastic and a bit thick-headed, but otherwise decent. Towards the end of the game, it is suggested that Carnby is the spiritual son of Hecatonchires, the Abkanis God of Light, and destined to dedicate his life to battling the darkness.
  • Aline Cedrac: The game's other playable character. Aline's path involves less combat and more puzzles than Carnby's. As a result of sudden monster attacks, she starts the game frightened and co-dependent, yet she eventually gains confidence and ends up taking a leading role in the investigation of Shadow Island. An expert in ancient languages with a PhD in archeology, Aline is sent to Shadow Island by Agent Johnson to translate Obed Morton's Abkanis tablets. However, her true motivation in going to Shadow Island is to meet Obed Morton, who she believes may be her father (who left her mother before Aline was born). When Aline finally encounters Obed, she learns that he's never had children, and that Johnson deliberately misled her into believing Obed was her father in order to lure her onto Shadow Island. Aline's true father remains unknown, although there are hints in the game that, like the Morton Twins, her heritage is not entirely human (in a nightmare sequence, she encounters her father as a child only to see his monstrous face revealed, and if she chooses to look in De Certo's mirror to see her "true self" her face's reflection is a cackling skull).
  • Edenshaw: Edenshaw is the last of the Abkanis Indians, inhabitants of Shadow Island and the descendants of the original guardians of the Gates of Darkness. An old friend of the Morton family going back to Jeremy Morton, Edenshaw is responsible for raising the Morton Twins as well as teaching the Mortons much of the lore involving the World of Darkness. Through inaction and weakness, Edenshaw fails to prevent Alan Morton from growing up to be an evil man obsessed with the World of Darkness. He enlists the aide of Edward Carnby and Aline Cedrac to prevent Alan from opening Shadow Island's Gate of Darkness, and when that fails he redeems himself by performing the Abkanis sealing ritual to close the Gate of Darkness forever. Presumably, he is killed when the ritual causes Shadow Island to collapse.
  • Lucy Morton: The mother of Alan and Obed, Lucy is an old woman who was blinded and paralyzed in her youth after an accident while horseback riding. She spends her time alone and bedridden in her room, surrounded by hundreds of burning candles to keep the shadows at bay. Aline meets her shortly after crash-landing on the Morton mansion, and the two of them have several conversations in which Lucy warns Aline about the Creatures of Darkness and begs her to save her son Obed. Lucy eventually locks herself in her room after she realizes her dead husband Howard has been resurrected as a monster by Alan, and she is presumably killed when Shadow Island is destroyed at the end of the game.
  • Obed Morton: The owner of Shadow Island. A prominent archeologist and expert on ancient languages, Obed is famous for his research into the Abkanis Indians that once dwelled on Shadow Island. In reality, Obed is a fraud and a coward. All of his famous research was stolen from his much more brilliant brother Alan, who cared nothing for academic honors and allowed Obed to use his work in exchange for supplies for his experiments. Obed is also in league with Christopher Lamb, who bullies Obed into translating the Abkanis tablets containing the ritual needed to open the Gates of Darkness. Lamb abandons Obed and Alan after they give him the translation, and sends Carnby and Aline to Shadow Island so that the four of them can eliminate each other. Although Obed fears the World of Darkness, he is too much of a coward to fight his brother Alan, and spends much of his time hiding in locked rooms. Somehow, Obed is pulled into the World of Darkness after Alan opens the Gates of Darkness. There he is transformed into a huge two-headed Creature of Darkness, and attacks his brother Alan in revenge. Insane and schizophrenic, Obed confronts Aline and blocks her escape from the World of Darkness. However, after Aline shoots him several times, Obed regains his sanity. He saves Aline's life, and uses his new monstrous body to battle a swarm of Creatures of Darkness, giving Aline time to escape by sacrificing his own life.
  • Alan Morton: Alan Morton is Obed Morton's twin brother, and the game's primary villain. He looks exactly like Obed Morton, except for the fact he wears an eyepatch over one eye. The world does not know that he exists, as he prefers to remain on Shadow Island and study the World of Darkness, with which he has been obsessed with all his life. Alan has been conducting twisted experiments in his laboratories below the island, attempting to merge Light and Darkness by injecting human corpses with a serum derived from cells of a Creature of Darkness. The results of his work are the Hybrids, the zombie-like creatures that roam the Shadow Island area near the Morton manor. Alan also killed his father Howard for opposing his attempts to free the World of Darkness, then injected his father's corpse with a serum that turned him into a mindless, hulking brute. Alan eventually succeeds in his goal of opening the Gates of Darkness, which he fearlessly enters. He is pursued by Carnby and Aline, and eventually attacked by his mutated brother Obed. Alan himself is infected and mutated into a Creature of Darkness. In the end, Carnby and the monsterous Alan have one final showdown. Alan proves impervious to conventional weapons, but Carnby eventually manages to slay him with a mystical Abkanis spear.
  • Judas de Certo: Another mysterious friend of the Morton family, this one with a more sinister agenda. de Certo was the partner of Archibald Morton, the first Morton to inhabit Shadow Island. His origins are unknown, but he was responsible for turning Archibald's interest to the occult and the World of Darkness. Even after his death, de Certo lives on as a ghost guiding the Morton family in their research on the World of Darkness. He apparently has the ability to appear in any mirror in the mansion, and has been battling Edenshaw for many years. de Certo meets Aline and enlists her help, ultimately attempting to trick her into gazing into his mirror and seeing her "true self". Aline rejects him, however, and destroys de Certo's mirror. de Certo's spirit is apparently tied to the mirror, and shatters as soon as the mirror breaks.
  • Agent Fred Johnson: A Bureau 713 agent working directly for Christopher Lamb. Johnson, under Lamb's orders, lures Carnby and Aline onto Shadow Island through fabricated evidence suggesting that Fiske died on Shadow Island and that Obed is Aline's father. Towards the end of the game, Carnby and Aline learn of Johnson's deception, and develop a deep distrust of him. However, at the end, Johnson has a change of heart, and shows up with a helicopter to rescue Carnby and Aline from Shadow Island. Apparently, Johnson is a government agent sent to infiltrate Bureau 713 and investigate Lamb, but who was betrayed and cut off by his handlers, leaving him with no choice but to continue obeying Lamb. In spite of this, Lamb manages to learn of Johnson's deception, and marks him for death.
  • Christopher Lamb: A shadowy character, Lamb only appears briefly in the game's opening and ending cutscenes. The head of Bureau 713, Lamb's official mission is to combat Communism, but in reality he has transformed the organization into his own personal army for the purposes of paranormal investigation and exploitation. Lamb's family, obscuring its Nazi roots, managed to infiltrate the U.S. government and thrive under the guise of the fight against Communism. Partially paralyzed by an assassination attempt by the Mossad, Lamb walks with the assistance of a cane and wears a neck brace. Lamb is ultimately responsible for sending Carnby and Aline to Shadow Island, intending for the Creatures of Darkness to kill them. Lamb appears to dislike light, as he keeps his office in total darkness, with the shades drawn to block out the sunlight from outside. At the end of the game, it is revealed that Lamb has acquired the text of the ritual needed to open the Gates of Darkness, although what he intends to do with such dangerous power is not addressed. Although the Shadow Island Gate has been destroyed, many others still exist across the world.


The original game engine was created by Frédérick Raynal as a pet project while working at Infogrames. With the help of Didier Chanfray, who made the 3D models, a working prototype of the attics (the game's first room) was designed. An internal contest was held to create the art to complete the 3D prototype. Yaël Barroz's art was selected and she was introducted into the game's core team. Frédérick Raynal directed the project.

Shortly after Alone in the Dark's initial release, a major disagreement between the team and Infogrames' director (Bruno Bonnell) took place regarding the direction of the sequel. As a result, most of the original team left Infogrames to create a new studio named Adeline Software International.

According to an interview made just after the release of Alone in the Dark, portions of the sequels were designed by the original team before leaving. The interview presented a sketch of the house that was used in the sequel and mentioned the fact that Carnby could be dressed as Santa Claus.


The game engine is the first known to use interpolated animation. This keyframe-driven system relies on computer power to compute the animation frame between the keyframes. This approach has the advantages of reducing the game's memory footprint (requiring less memory to store) and adapting to each computer's power.

The game engine developed for Alone in the Dark was reused in its first two sequels (Alone in the Dark 2 and Alone in the Dark 3) without substantial changes. It was later updated and used in Infogrames' Timegate: Knight's Chase (1996).

See also

External links


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