Alone in the Dark is a survival horror video game designed by Frédérick Raynal and developed and published by Infogrames for the PC. Alone in the Dark was released for MS-DOS in 1992, ported for the 3DO by Krisalis in 1994, and ported for iOS by Atari in 2014. Set in 1920s Louisiana, the game challenges the player to guide the player character out of a haunted mansion, advancing by solving puzzles while either banishing, slaying, or eluding various ghosts and monsters. The player can collect and use weapons, manage a weight-based inventory system, and explore a partially nonlinear map.
Alone in the Dark received critical acclaim upon its release, and is considered a breakthrough and influential title, as it was the first 3D survival horror game. Among the accolades which followed its release, Alone in the Dark received the European Computer Trade Show awards for Best Graphics and Most Original Game in 1993. In 2009, Empire included Alone in the Dark on their list of 100 greatest video games of all time.
Alone in the Dark is considered a forefather of the survival horror genre, and its influence can be seen in the Resident Evil franchise. Alone in the Dark has also spawned four follow-up games as part of the series, as well as two films loosely based on them.
In 1924, Jeremy Hartwood, a noted artist and owner of the Louisiana mansion Derceto (named after the Syrian deity), has committed suicide by hanging himself. His death appears suspicious yet seems to surprise nobody, for Derceto is widely reputed to be haunted by an evil power. The case is quickly dealt with by the police and soon forgotten by the public. The player assumes the role of either Edward Carnby—a private investigator who is sent to find a piano in the loft for an antique dealer—or Emily Hartwood, Jeremy's niece, who is also interested in finding the piano because she believes a secret drawer in it has a note in which Jeremy explains his suicide. Whether Carnby or Hartwood, the character goes to the mansion to investigate.
Upon entering the house, the doors mysteriously slam shut behind the player character. He or she continues up to the attic, but is attacked by monsters. The player character progresses back down through the house, fighting off various creatures and hazards. The player character finds documents throughout the house indicating that Derceto was built by an occultist pirate named Ezechiel Pregzt, and that beneath the house are caverns that were used for dark rituals meant to increase Pregzt's fortunes and unnaturally extend his life. Pregzt was shot and Derceto was burned down by encamped Union soldiers during the American Civil War. However, Pregzt's spirit lived on, and his corpse was placed by his servants in an old tree in the caverns underneath Derceto. Jeremy Hartwood committed suicide to prevent his body being used as a host for Pregzt, so Pregzt now focuses on the player character. If the player character is incapacitated, their body is subsequently dragged to a sacrificial area and possessed by Pregzt, whereupon the game ends with an image of supernatural horrors being unleashed from the house into the world at large.
The player character finds a passage into the caverns in Hartwood's study, and makes his or her way to the tree where Pregzt resides. The player character hurls a lighted lantern at the tree, then flees the collapsing cavern. Pregzt is consumed by the flames, and the house is purged of supernatural creatures and other effects caused by his influence. The player can finally open the front doors and leave the house, which is now completely safe to explore (except for physical hazards such as falling to one's death through chasms or rotten floorboards, and two magical books in the library which remain lethal to read). The driver is outside to take the character home; however, the driver is revealed to be a zombie. The zombie drives the car back to civilization.