It's been a long time coming - not least for fans of the last instalment, which came out seven years ago - but Eden Studios' larks-in-the-park reimagining of the Alone in the Dark series finally hits later this month.
After four years of development, the first next-gen instalment in the Alone in the Dark series is almost here. Atari held a press event in London last week to reveal more of the game, and newly installed Infogrames president Phil Harrison was on hand to have a chat to us about it.
Before there was Resident Evil, before there was Silent Hill, there was Alone In The Dark. It's easy to forget that now, of course - those two games have unquestionably made the genre what it is today, after all. It's still worth mentioning, though, that Alone In The Dark was there before either of them.
Here's a situation with which everyone who plays videogames will be familiar: you're playing as a heavily armed character, who has shot, punched, smashed and looted his way through wave after wave of monsters, zombies, henchmen or aliens - only to be foiled, despite your bulging muscles and impressive arsenal, by a plywood door. Kick it in? Shoot it? Blow it up? Nonsense - it's time to go and look for the four pieces of the sacred medallion that'll make it open!
Alone in the Dark looked amazing when Atari and Eden Games first unveiled it. Over two years later, some of its smarter ideas - physics puzzles, high levels of environmental interactivity, fancy lighting, a mixture of third- and first-person controllers - have been and gone in other games. With an additional delay until May 2008, there's a lot of scepticism about its quality, and suggestions that the game's in trouble. Not so, said Atari, when they rang us up yesterday. In fact, why don't you ask the developer yourself? So we did. Nour Polloni, the game's producer, gave us an update on development, and explained how the game will go about living up to its lofty billing.
Edward Carnby hops into a car. The woman demoing the game to us explains that everything in the car works. We sort of tune out a bit. Is this really relevant? It's nice that you can look in the glovebox for a gun. It's nice that you can operate the wipers. But is it that important? It's not like games haven't done this before. You could play the harmonica on the Plok title screen. Stupid PLOK RIP-OFF.
What is "next-generation gameplay"? Nobody seems to know. Asked about it just prior to the Tokyo Game Show in September, one prominent next-generation game developer narrowed his eyes slightly and responded with a shrug. "Meh!"