It's tough playing catch-up. The first three Alone in the Dark games were the games that created the survival horror genre; however, they were quickly cast aside when Resident Evil hit the scene. By the time Darkworks put out the fourth game in the Alone in the Dark series, The New Nightmare, the genre had expanded to ridiculous degrees. The developers decided that the only way to compete was to copy Resident Evil for the most part. Nine times out of ten, blatantly copying a rival doesn't turn out well, and The New Nightmare is no exception.
The plot revolves around series regular Edward Carnby and his compatriot for this game Aline investigating a mysterious island. While looking for answers about a colleague's death, the two find out about a missing group of people called the Abkani that believed in a world of darkness concealing horrible monsters. If that plot sounds familiar, it's because that plot was largely used in Uwe Boll's horrible film adaptation of Alone in the Dark. Fortunately, the script and voice acting in the game are decent if forgettable; Christian Slater and Tara Reid are not present. The music and ambiance are low-key and work well, too, but are equally forgettable.
The visuals are pretty good, especially on the Dreamcast. Like with Resident Evil, the game uses 3D characters with static pre-rendered backgrounds and fixed camera angles. The characters are sharp, and the camera angles used provide decent views of the action. There's even great use of lighting with the characters' flashlights providing realistic shadows. However, I can't help but be disappointed. Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Dino Crisis, and Silent Hill were already out, showing that the same thing could be done with polygons to provide dynamic camera angles, and Fear Effect and its sequel proved that pre-rendered backgrounds didn't have to be static. It's clear Darkworks just wanted to copy Resident Evil with little concern for improving on it.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is where New Nightmare really gets screwed. On the surface, it copies Resident Evil with its control scheme, map system, and limited auto-aim. However, the big addition is the flashlight which weakens and sometimes destroys the Creatures of Darkness (creative name, isn't it?). The controls just can't keep up; the enemies' quick speed and teleporting abilities make trying to target them constantly aggravating. For an example of how to do this kind of thing right, play Alan Wake. Further, the game promotes the differences in Edward and Aline's questlines; Edward's is more combat-oriented while Aline's focuses on puzzles. However, the combat is infuriating even at the beginning, and the puzzles are too simple even by Resident Evil standards, making neither quest enjoyable. Finally, the save system sucks. Save charms are used to save anywhere. The problem is that the save charms are scarce and can only be used once each. At least in the Resident Evil games you get two or three uses out of one ink ribbon and can find plenty of them.
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare tried to copy Resident Evil but failed miserably. The game is constantly annoying and infuriating. Little wonder the series got a reboot in 2008. While not as horrendous as the Uwe Boll movie, I still got almost no enjoyment from Carnby's fourth mission. Don't even waste a magnesium bullet on it; just forget about it.