Combine this with a frustrating control scheme and an atrocious save system and you have one of the more frustrating game experiences in recent history. It's frustrating because
it comes so close to greatness--the plot is solid, the graphics are sharp, but the execution leaves a whole lot to be desired.
Edward Carnby, protagonist of the original Alone in the Dark games, returns on a quest to find out just what went wrong on Shadow Island. Along for the ride is Aline Cedrac, who believes it's going to be a relatively mundane translation effort for some rare tablets found there. Of course, things go horribly awry from the beginning, and you have to pick which of the two characters to play as in your quest to find out what really happened.
The two stories are intertwined--indeed, you'll interact with the other character as you play your own quest, and while the 'stories' don't quite match up completely, there's enough overlap that you don't feel cheated. Even so, the two branches play considerably differently. Carnby's story tends to concentrate more on combat and less on puzzles; Aline's is definitely more solve-oriented. She also starts off at a pretty serious disadvantage, lacking even a weapon to shoot enemies with.
The game plays much like any survival horror game you've ever tinkered around with. Manipulating the environment is considerably more frustrating than it should be, though, because you do almost everything with the space button. In addition to this, a number of places in the game have very small 'sweet spots' that are very frustrating to hit. This can lead to shuffling about, trying to get positioned right, which is never a fun experience.
Compounding this is the atrocious save system. You have to use Save Tokens, which is fine and dandy--they're pretty liberal with them throughout the game, so it shouldn't be much of an issue to make it through without running out of tokens. However, when you save the game, it doesn't really save the game completely. You have to recomplete whatever zone you find yourself in. This can be fantastically frustrating, as some of the zones require a long sequence of actions and combat situations to complete, and repeating that sort of stuff is never fun.
Admittedly, many of the problems with the control scheme and the save system result from the fact that Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is a port of a PSX game as opposed to the other way around. But that doesn't excuse the developers from fixing it on the PC.
And it's a real shame, because despite its issues and relatively short length Alone in the Dark is a fun game. It kept me intrigued long enough to find out what was going on; I didn't feel like I was playing 'to play'.