This survival horror is more confusing than scary, but I can't stop playing — here’s why

Jodie Comer and David Harbour as the faces of Emily and and Edward in the Alone in the Dark 2024 reboot game
(Image credit: Xbox Store)
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I am a harsh critic when it comes to horror games. Games like Dead by Daylight and The Park didn’t stay in my library for long because, quite honestly, nothing kept me on the edge of my seat or made my heart race with anticipation.

Then Alone in the Dark came along. While it feels random to get a remake of this over-30-year-old survival horror classic in 2024, I was intrigued by the premise and lead actors. Jodie Comer and David Harbour play the two main characters and it's a pairing I didn’t expect to see on my PC.

I have a complicated relationship with this game but that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it or wouldn’t recommend it to someone else. Before I delve into all of that, I’ll give you a brief synopsis to help you understand why I initially thought this was going to be a genuinely scary game — and why it ultimately failed to deliver on that promise.

The story makes up for the dull horror

Alone in the Dark follows Emily Hartwood (Comer) and Edward Carnby (Harbour) as they travel to a psychiatric manor to find Emily’s missing uncle, Jeremy. However, they discover more than they bargained for — from strange artifacts to gruesome creatures lurking in the fog. You can choose to control either protagonist, with both stories containing unique perspectives and chapters to complete.

While the lack of horror disappointed me, I couldn’t be mad since the story was so engaging and fun. The narrative makes up for the nonexistent scare factor, as evidenced by my constant urge to turn on my PC and get back into this game. I believe the developers genuinely tried to make it scary for everyone. Unfortunately, there was too much narrative exposition.

For the first half of the game, I wandered around a bright manor, going room to room solving puzzles that were honestly kind of difficult. There were also random drawn-out conversations with the residents that pulled me out of the gameplay. Of course, it’s important to set up the story quickly, but there was nothing scary in sight.

There were some frightening moments sprinkled throughout. For instance, there were unexpected jump scares that came from hallucinations or from being transported to nightmarish worlds beyond our own. But other than that, I didn’t find the game all that frightening.

With all that said, the overblown exposition worked for the story. The narrative shined since the game is so focused on building an engaging plot rather than throwing classic horror tropes at you. I kept returning to this game to learn more about the manor, solve puzzles and figure out what was really on with Jeremy. Alone in the Dark managed to keep me hooked as I explored this world and its hidden mysteries, which is something other horror games sometimes fail to achieve.

Comer and Harbour deliver the goods

Jodie Comer and David Harbour as the faces of Emily and and Edward in the Alone in the Dark 2024 reboot game

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

The story is excellent, and Comer and Harbour are a big reason why. Their performances felt real, as did their interactions with other characters. This held my attention all the more. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how interested I would’ve been in continuing the narrative.

Comer’s Emily Hartwood is an apprehensive and anxious person who tends to be upfront, especially when she’s trying to gather information about her uncle. You can see her confused facial expressions whenever a resident says something weird, and she really puts in the effort to create a character that is believable and relatable. 

The same goes for Harbour’s Edward Carnby, who is a determined investigator. His conversations felt natural, and so did his minor grunting whenever he had to drudge through some disgusting landscape. Voice acting isn't easy but these two nail their respective performances perfectly.

So... it's not a horror game?

David Harbour as Edward in the Alone in the Dark 2024 reboot game

(Image credit: Pieces Interactive)

Alone in the Dark is a fun game but it's not exactly scary, despite being a survival horror title. I'd say it's more of a mystery adventure game with an intriguing premise and solid characters. Sure, there are occasional bits that are almost scary but none of that hits the mark. In all honestly, it's more confusing than scary. Yes, I'm a horror connoisseur, but I think most would agree with me.

My advice is to go in with low expectations. That way, you'll probably enjoy Alone in the Dark's best aspects. It's not a horror masterpiece like Until Dawn or Dead Space but its story should keep you glued until the credits roll.

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Alix Blackburn
Staff Writer, Streaming

Alix is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, which basically means watching the best movies and TV shows and then writing about them. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Screen Rant and Bough Digital, both of which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing about the latest movies and TV shows, she’s either playing horror video games on her PC or working on her first novel.