Alone in the Dark: Illumination Review – Fucking Shit

The worst part about this game isn’t how Atari should be ashamed of it… it’s how Atari blatantly isn’t ashamed of it.

01

Developer: Pure FPS
Publisher: Atari (what’s left of it)
Format: PC
Released: June 12, 2015
Copy supplied by Steam

If I had to use one word to accurately reflect the spirit of Alone in the Dark: Illumination, it would be “contempt.” Rare is a game that showcases such sneering disrespect for its own series’ legacy, its potential audience, and the game industry at large. Like Haunted House before it, Illumination sees the walking corpse of Atari trading on yet another established franchise name, hiring cowboys to churn out a shoddy, artistically bankrupt cash grab in the hopes of conning fans out of their dollars.

Steam’s refund policy could not have come soon enough, as this spiteful example of interactive cynicism is a prime example of why Valve needed to implement such a system. If you’ve been unfortunate to enough to purchase this game, tricked by the allure of Alone in the Dark‘s once-respectable pedigree, then please, for the love of God, seek that refund immediately. Atari does not deserve one thin dime of your money, not for this pathetic, disgusting sperm stain of a game.

A cooperative shooter that encourages you to stand in bright lights, the latest iteration of Alone in the Dark is one where you’re neither supposed to be alone, nor in the dark. The enemies, you see, are vulnerable to light, which means that in order to fight them efficiently, you need to run around switching on lamps, lighting fires, and generally brightening up your surroundings. Once sufficiently illuminated, the monsters can then be dispersed via simplistic, brainless, utterly pedestrian third-person gunfire.

03

Illumination stole its core idea from Alan Wake, then goes on to liberally lift everything else from Left 4 Dead and Operation: Raccoon City – ensuring not a single original concept is to be found. Of the admittedly short amount of time I could stomach playing, I was forced to repeatedly play terrible attempts at copying Left 4 Dead‘s scavenger sequences, with every level I encountered featuring some variation of the “collect four things and bring them to the same place” objective.

I mean every level, too. Each stage is nothing but a poorly signposted maze full of electric cables, explosives, or batteries, each to be arbitrarily collected and brought to whatever convoluted gate stands in the players’ way. Over and over again, until you turn the thing off and obliterate it from your computer’s hard-drive.

As you might have guessed by now, this is an Alone in the Dark game in name only. Even the notoriously terrible 2008 release from Eden Games bore more resemblance to its predecessors than this inferior squad shooter. There’s no horror on offer, just four cookie-cutter character classes with poorly explained abilities, and hordes of generic monsters that resemble a teenager’s first attempt at drawing their own Doom demons.

Even divorced from the galling abuse of the Alone in the Dark name, Illumination is a dreadful experience. At the very most, we can call it a boring, sloppy lump of mundanity. Each level is a lengthy, slow-paced slog through empty environments. The repetitive objectives are joined by equally repetitive encounters with the same dreary slew of monsters who are all fought in exactly the same way.

02

It’s not like the central gimmick is even done very well. With Alan Wake, the use of the torch was a really clever way of fighting opponents. Here, the torch that accompanies each character’s weapon is practically useless, requiring players to rely on external light sources and hope their foes wander into the target areas. It’s a frustratingly passive way to play, standing back and waiting for monsters to stumble like blithering idiots into the killing zone. The lamps dotted around each stage are temporary, too, and you’ll be constantly sprinting around looking for more.

Not that you’ll be sprinting for long. Stamina drains quickly and regains slowly, because this game hates its audience.

Oh, some creatures explode at random. There’s no reason for it. They’re not special exploding ones, they’re just regular mooks that decide to blow up in your face with a ridiculously large area-of-effect that knocks you down. Why not, right? Why fucking not?

I am not happy with the thing I played.

The game is blatantly unfinished. Irritating projectile-spewing enemies can shoot you through solid walls, many monsters clip through doors, there’s no voice acting or music, and audio for firearms is limp and muted. There are no sounds to indicate when enemies spawn and they can spawn literally anywhere, leading to endless cheap shots from behind.

At some points, half the sound effects stop occurring altogether – usually when something explodes. Explosions, for the record, have no sound effects either. Why would an explosion need sound? Better to just have them go off in absolute cocking silence.

From the walls of text between missions to the barely audible ambient noise, Illumination‘s assets look and feel like placeholders, something you’d find in a pre-alpha Early Access game – except this is an allegedly polished, professional product being sold for $34.99.

Although designed as an online cooperative shooter, nobody’s actually playing it. Doubtless those that did buy it have rescinded their purchases soon after realizing their mistake. The servers are barren, and attempting to host one’s own game is a waste of time.

The good news is that there’s a single-player alternative. The bad news is that it’s absolute shite.

04

The workaholics at Pure FPS simply did not bother balancing Illumination for solo play whatsoever, to the point where it’s unplayable on anything but Easy mode. Anything above that will overwhelm the player with endlessly respawning monsters who are already annoying enough to fight, wandering randomly as they do around the world.

Unfortunately, Easy mode is so easy that it’s painfully dull. Here, monsters barely spawn at all – in fact, one level seemingly forgot to spawn them at all halfway through, and I trudged through tunnels and tunnels of absolutely nothing. The game becomes little more than a threadbare scavenger hunt, temporarily interrupted by badly animated freaks that spit poison through the walls at you.

Some doors can only be opened by certain characters. Naturally, the game does not indicate which doors can be opened by who. You’ll just have to try them all. Some of these special doors open up into rooms of… nothing. Absolutely nothing! Of course.

Alone in the Dark: Illumination is ugly in every sense of the word, not just visually – though it is about as attractive as an anus in an eye socket. Hideous both inside and out, it’s the consummate fraud that hides behind a recognizable name to deliver interactive poison. The kind of game that has systematically eroded the game industry over the last few years, cashing in the trust and goodwill of the audience for a quick and very dirty buck.  Games like this are toxic and have no place in a medium that respects itself.

I’ve got nothing witty or clever left to say about this thing. Alone in the Dark: Illumination is fucking shit.

1/10
Accursed

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

At first glance, I thought the game’s title was “Alone in the Dark: Illuminati”. Perhaps it should have been?

I just find it sadly humorous that Atari is back to its old tricks yet again. Did they learn nothing from “E.T.”?

imyth
Guest
imyth

is it just me or are the poison enemies just the stalkers from haunted house? i mean did they really not even bother to make new enemies.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Maybe finishing that Alone in the Dark play-through won’t seem so bad after playing this…

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Well, to that person in the ‘Wander’ review thread wondering what separated that garbage from the sign of the Accursed; here it is. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Atari.

Kenny
Guest

Do you ever think we’ll see a proper revival of this series return it to the proper Triple A status?

Ragna
Guest
Ragna

*sighs*
I actually had a little bit of hope for this….ah well, that’ll teach me to put faith in Atari -_-

CH_Gorog
Guest
CH_Gorog

1/10. Praise to the Sterling.

artisticMink
Guest
artisticMink

As a kid i was used to play Alone in the Dark 1 and 2, i pretty much had no clue what was actually going on and only died for the most part. But even back then i kinda grasped the Cthulhu-ish horror elements which made me shudder.

It makes me sad what happened to the Franchise.

craigtheintern
Guest
craigtheintern

Wow, a coveted 1/10? Not too many reviews ago you mentioned not handing those out willy-nilly. If nothing else, at least Atari (or the crazed hobos that have moved into their office building en masse and are just mucking around with the PC’s they found lying about are calling themselves these days) can be congratulated for setting the standard.

It’s too early to say, I’m sure, but I smell a Worst Games of 2015 Number One Contender.

Erich FrommHell
Guest

Yeah, John Bain tore this game another bum tunnel over on Youtube. They want 35 buckaroos for this Nutella substitute. Not even Herbert West himself could make such a pigs mickey out of the promised resurrection of the horror genre.

Vonchiefer
Guest
Vonchiefer

Jim uses toxic in the way it’s supposed to be! Ring the bells!

t4nky
Guest

You called it, Jim. I was kind of hoping, just like I do with all games, that it would somehow become a classic. Well, I guess if it had came out before Greenlight became shit, it would have been a classic example of what not to do…

Frisbelief
Guest
Frisbelief

Atari really hasn’t aged with grace, it seems. What really shocked me was reading that they wanted $34.99 for this.

Anyone reading this, watch Jim’s video of Alone in the Dark: Illumination. Watch it. Burn the image of that game into your memory. Then look again at that price. Look again, thus enlightened, and truly understand and appreciate how fucked up that is.

Lucas
Guest
Lucas

I have fond memories of playing through The New Nightmare as a kid and was a fan so it is a shame it just got worse.

As of right now you can get Alone in the Dark 1, 2, 3 and The New Nightmare for $3 on GOG. Might be better off buying those for your Alone in the Dark fix.

Seddon4494
Guest
Seddon4494

Didn’t Haunted House get a 1, too? :/ I thought the 2008 AITD was a travesty but it turns out it somehow can get worse…

Erber
Guest
Erber

Here we go! The “perfect” 1…

Even Luck
Guest

Mr. Sterling…….have we entered, the dark?

Cait Seith
Guest
Cait Seith

This is the second time that Atari makes a joke out of Alone in the Dark. But worse than the first time!

j0m3r
Guest
j0m3r

Just play it and totally agree with you, wipe it out of my SSD now.

Rivenfire
Guest
Rivenfire

I guess they thought that if unity assets can be flipped and sold why not do the same thing except use older previous game titles. There has to be someone out there on Kickstarter that can do this game some well deserved justice for once.

goat stealer
Guest
goat stealer

It’s kind of funny how I asked Jim what games actually earned the accursed 1/10 score and bam, here’s one!

With this, we can deduce that Jim is omnipresent and drifts through our psyche and minds so he may make what we are all thinking come true. One way to find out: Hey Jim, what am I thinking about right now?

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Wow. Sorry to hear that. Thanks for playing this shit so that we don’t have to.

Ben
Guest
Ben

You want a cushion for that fence you’re sitting on, Jim? 🙂

Dave Dogge
Guest
Dave Dogge

It’s got that Unreal ‘darky-browny’ look about it, it’s a pity that the game turned out to be a floating, chocolate log in watery, porcelain bowl. The ‘Survival Horror’ genre certainly has suffered quality issues in the last 5 years and it looks like that still “is” the status quo.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Why can’t tripple A devs understand that horror is not fucking dead!?

they don’t need to make everything a third person [♪SKELETON WARRIORS♫] shooter.

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