Ever since the game was announced, along with all of it's awesome features and pioneering gameplay mechanics, the media and public elevated this game to a pedestal of incredible hype. Naturally, when a game like that finally arrives, it's never going to live up to that hype, and Alone in the Dark of course is one of those - What I can tell you, is that like any game, it's a flawed gem. If you stick with it through the odd flawed moment, then you'll find a rewarding and deeply immersive experience.
In this game, you follow the story of long time series protagonist, Edward Carnby. In a fusion of 1st Person and 3rd Person gameplay, you must save New York from the horrors and demons that are popping up from all over central park.
From the get go, this game screams one thing at you: EPIC. There are so many brilliant set-pieces (which I won't spoil), which see you climbing or running from your life from various creatures or hazards. The noises and soundtracks are fantastic and fit the bill perfectly, drawing you right into the tense story and action scenes that are offered to you.
The rest of the time, you will be solving environmental puzzles using your intuition and a selection of handy objects, driving around central park, eliminating some of the beasties, or fighting bosses. It's certainly an eclectic mix of gameplay, and the switches between always work really well, not just introducing a variety of gameplay skills to you, but constantly keeping the experience fresh and interesting.
One of the real hallowed features of this game is the chapter select, allowing you to skip bits that are "too hard", or too difficult. I would severly advise against this though. I'm not a hardcore gamer and I don't get to play often, but I managed it all, and found that sticking with a puzzle or a particularly difficult section was rewarding and incredibly satisfying - barely ever do you require trial and error, you just need to use your brain.
Which is where the frankly superb item combination and inventory system comes in. Throughout the game, Carnby's awesome leather jacket allows you to hold a gun and flashlight, 5 small items in the left side, and 4 bottle like / large items in the right. Whether it be for fights or to solve puzzles, you are continously encouraged to improvise with the little items you pick up around the environment and use them for survival. You can make petrol bombs, sticky bombs, flamethrowers, Glowstick bombs, fire bullets...anything you can imagine. Since many of the puzzles can be solved by more than one combination, it's up to you to experiment and use your brain. The system doesn't let you pause to do this, so it can be a bit clunky in the heat of combat, but a shortcut system allows you to store your favourite 4 combinations, and if you have materials handy, make them at the press of a button.
So now I've raved, I unfortunately have to come to the few flaws. My first is that sometimes, the game does not actually give you infinite items for a situation, so using your items inefficiently can get you stuck and you have to restart. The healing system is also good, but can be annoying if you have no bandages to hand (giving you 6 minutes to live). Chapters 8 and 9 also represent a bit of a dull time, where you have to drive around central park solving numerous puzzles in aid of burning roots, and this section is not just difficult, but a bit more boring that the rest of the game.
However, if you stick with the game past these few flaws you'll no doubt find a deep and enriching experience that is not just satisfying to play, but also fresh and new, and you know what? Atari deserve praise for trying to revive such a convoluted games market.