The Tokyo Game Show 2022 was held from September 15 to 18 this year. At the THQ Nordic booth where the enthusiastic professional wrestling is impressive, the company’s Alone in the Dark exhibits the cool impression. It is a remake of a cult that boasted a cult popularity in the early 90s and had a great influence on survival horror games. This time, I asked Michael Peck of THQ Nordic, producer of the hottest work Alone in the Dark, about the charm of this work and had some opportunities to ask questions directly. In this article, the contents of the interview are delivered below.
Remake that becomes a love letter to the original
— First, please introduce yourself.
This is Michael Pack, THE NORDIC’s executive producer. He is the producer of Alone in the Dark.
— First, can you tell us about the work called Alone in the Dark remake?
The original Alone in the Dark released 30 years ago was an innovative game. It is a game that can be said to be the starting point of 3D survival horror games that had a huge impact on subsequent horror games, and it is possible that modern horror games have evolved into a completely different one without this game. It is very fortunate to be able to get such a legendary game IP.
The concept of this remake is Love letter to the original. Recent horror games are more like a Tyler game, and there are many jumping cares (a surprising production like jumping from a chair). There are few such elements in the original Alone in the Dark, and this work that draws the flow is a little different from ordinary survival horror. It is a work that emphasizes the atmosphere, and it is a work that depicts a slightly unique, David Lynch-like view. Nevertheless, it follows an orthodox style in terms of gameplay, and it is well-balanced with classic elements such as exploration, puzzles, and battles.
With a simple remake of the original, it will be a very short game. The original is a game of about three and a half hours at most. There are three original series from 1992 to 1994, but in order to make a modern game, it was necessary to pick up the elements of the story as much as possible from these three games. By the way, in addition to these three works, there are two sequels in the 2000s, one cooperative shooting game, and movies are released, but these are not referred to in this remake production. It focuses only on the original three original works of the 90s. Although the story of these three works is short, there are many memos in various parts of the game that describe the world view and fragments. There is also a character name that does not actually appear in the game, so this is a remake that connects fragments of such stories to make one big game.
Another feature is that this work is a so-called ghost mansion. The works of this genre are often set in England and New England, which are greatly influenced by writers like Edgar Alan Po. However, the stage of this work is New Orleans. In a sultry area compared to England, I think that the difference in the stage and climate has led to a new view of the atmosphere and the worldview more than I think.
I will tell you a little more about gameplay. The battle part is basically a shooting with guns, but the protagonist is just an ordinary person. There is no special ability, and monsters are basically struggling. The resource is finite, and escape is always one of the options. The puzzle starts with a very simple one in the beginning of the game, and the difficulty increases over the end. Regarding this puzzle element, I am careful to prepare something that will mesh with the game story as much as possible. There is a horror game that the floating puzzle is sandwiched between game play and the immersive feeling is ruined, but it seems that there is no such thing.
We have a playable teaser as a demo version, but this is a bit special. If you cut out the early stage of the game as a demo, it will inevitably be spoiled. When I was worried about this, I found that the original Alone in the Dark 2 had a playable teaser called Jack in the Dark. I think this is probably the first playable teaser in the history of the game industry. So, so I decided to prepare a playable teaser in this work in a form that follows this.
In the remake version of the playable teaser Grace in the Dark, you will operate a girl named Grace and follow the story of the day before the main story. There are no battles or puzzles, only searching. Although it is a work that is not related to the main part, it will be released as a demonstration before the release, or it will be recorded as an extra element in the main game.
Alone in the Dark remake has two protagonists. One is Edward Khan Bee, a character that will be the main character even in the original three works. The other is Emily Heartwood, and she appears in the first work, but does not appear in the remaining two. However, this work is a love letter, so she thought she had to make her appear. Like the original, it is possible to choose which of the two people first, and the contents of the following movies and conversations will all change depending on the first hero selection. There is a considerable difference in the content and atmosphere of the story, and Jeremy Hardwood, who is the owner of the mansion and disappeared for Emily, is her uncle. In short, the content of the story is serious because it is a party. On the other hand, Edward Barney is a private detective, so this story is a little more light. Either way, you have to play both to understand the whole story.
Naturally, everyone has not played the game 30 years ago, and I can’t make a game based on that, so this work can be enjoyed by those who do not know the series. I am. However, the elements and small stories that respect the original are scattered all over the game, so I think that if you can pay attention to such parts, you can enjoy it more.
This work is currently under development, and it has been about three years since the development started. The release date is undecided, but I hope you look forward to it.
Modern version reconstructed by horror games experts
――It has Japanese compatible, but do you plan to include Japanese subtitles and audio?
There are subtitles, of course, but the voices are undecided. I think you will decide the language to be recorded while watching the reactions in each country.
――Where do you think is the charm and strength of this work as a pure horror game in addition to the remake of that masterpiece Alone in the Dark?
This work is full of the basics of survival horror games, and as I mentioned earlier, it is not just a game that is just surprising, it is possible to build a unique view and atmosphere of this work. I think. We are proud to be a successful survival search game, but has succeeded in providing a cinematic experience.
-The original Alone in the Dark was a very innovative game at the time. Do you think there is a part that can be said to be innovative in the inherited remake version?
Compared to 1992, I think it is difficult to be innovative in modern times in the modern era of survival horror. Because it is a remake of old works, this is novel for this work! There is no such intense point, but on the contrary, the essence of the survival horror game that has been inherited from that time should be firmly united one by one.
-The first Resident Evil is said to refer to the original Alone in the Dark (Reference: Wikipedia). Did you have any consciousness of this remake?
of course. The Resident Evil series has been influenced by Alone in the Dark, and has been influenced by the Resident Evil series this time, this time. Especially Resident Evil Re: 2 was a wonderful work. In this way, in this way, I think that good works have been progressing and progressing with each other.
――In the story, is it reconstructed not only to trace the original but also quite well?
That’s right. By connecting points such as fragmentary worldviews and settings that exist in the original, it is a solid line story. The number of characters is increasing significantly, and the people who only have the name in the original have a new role.
-I think the survival horror game has a great potential as a market. Do you think the Alone in the Dark series will be a franchise that attracts genre fans in the future?
Above all, you must regain the fame of the Alone in the Dark series. There were too many sequels and derivative works that were not high in quality in flattering, so it is necessary to regain the evaluation of the series with a remake that follows the original once. Whether the sequel will come out in the future, and it will be a big franchise depends on the evaluation of this work, but there is no doubt that this work is the first step.
――What is the size of the development staff?
There are about 40 core members. However, there are some parts that are outsourcing to other development teams of THQ Nordic, so if you look at it as a whole, it will be a calculation that about 100 people are involved.
――Are the original development members involved in this work?
I have been contacting Frederick Lunar (InnoGames’s game designer, which is involved in the development of the original Alone in the Dark), but otherwise, especially the original development members. There is none.
-Finally, please tell me your favorite horror game.
Recently, Resident Evil Re: 2 was a wonderful game.
Until then, what I liked the most was Dream Cast’s Resident Evil Code: Veronica.
Also, SOMA is also a wonderful experience, one of the games that I especially like.
So I’m really pleased that Mikhail Hedberg (creator in charge of the scenario of AMNESIA and SOMA. In charge of the scenario in this work).
Other than him, the staff is the only members who should be called an expert in a horror game, so horror game fans should look forward to this work.
–Thank you for today.
Alone in the Dark is being developed for PC (Steam)/PS5/Xbox Series X | S.
The release date is undecided and will be supported for Japanese subtitles.