Alone in the Dark Offers a “Delightful Sense of Matinée” – Interview with Producer Andreas Schmiedecker & Creative Director Mikael Hedberg

We really enjoyed our time with Alone in the Dark here at EIP, as our recent review can attest to. Unraveling the game’s mysteries left us with more questions, albeit for the game’s creators. THQ Nordic generously let us borrow just a bit of time from two key folks on the Alone in the Dark team, namely Producer Andreas Schmiedecker, and Creative Director and Writer Mikael Hedberg. We asked some relatively spoiler-free questions, and they answered!

EIP: Was it at all stressful recreating such a fan favorite? I know you’ve got the creator’s blessing at this point, but it still seems to be quite the task. 

Andreas Schmiedecker: Frédérick Raynal and his team managed to create a true milestone in gaming history, and we were very honored to get his approval for our re-imagination. We feel he was happy with what the team at Pieces has created and appreciated all the little nods to the original game.

EIP: I’m curious about the differences between the two playthroughs you can do (with Emily and Edward): can you go into any detail about how things are different with each character? 

AS: The idea is that you feel like the protagonist of the story with the character you chose, while your companion also has their own investigation going on. So, indeed you will meet them in a couple of cutscenes and gameplay sections and get a glimpse of what they’ve been up to. It should be noted, though, that you will always be the main character that you chose and the other person always be the side character.

derceto outside alone in the dark

From a narrative perspective, it’s very exciting to show how the story plays out differently, depending on who you chose. Emily and Edward are very different characters and have different relations to the plot – while Edward is more of a hired gun who learns step by step how the mystery of Derceto is related to him, Emily has a more personal connection to the plot as she needs to find her own uncle and deal with the strange affliction called “The Hartwood Curse”. All this will be reflected in the cutscenes the player gets to see and in the reactions from the different NPCs you meet. Additionally, the player will get to see exclusive levels and parts of the mansion depending on your chosen protagonist. So it’s a great incentive to play through the game more than once.

EIP: How replayable is the game — are there multiple endings beyond the two you presumably get with the two different characters?

AS: The main incentive will be to play through both campaigns and experience the story from Emily’s and Edward’s perspective. They both feature unique cutscenes and levels and together form a whole story.
Additionally, players will only be able to find all collectibles (“Lagniappes” as we call them) on multiple playthroughs.

And last, but not least, there might be secret endings and cutscenes only to be found by the most attentive players after multiple playthroughs…

derceto inside edward alone in the dark

EIP: Can players familiar with the original Alone in the Dark expect some easter eggs?

AS: If you follow the story of our re-imagination closely, you will find numerous callbacks to the original game and their characters, as well as some almost post-modern reflections on the nature of remakes. What, for instance, changes if Jeremy, the character that kickstarts the story with his letter, didn’t kill himself (as he did in the original) but instead sought therapy? In that sense the question of whether history is doomed to repeat itself has been very much on the developers’ minds 🙂

EIP: How have you drawn from the original game, while also creating an original story? Was it hard to decide what to keep and what to cut or change? I’m curious if you started with the original story and modified it, or if you came up with a new story and then worked in elements from the original game. 

Mikael Hedberg: Well, the first game was a pioneer and basically started the genre. Simply continuing the legacy could have resulted in just another survival horror game of that genre we have to come to know and love. To try to make it Alone in the Dark specifically we had to dig more into the specific elements like the setting and the story to make it clear that it was a part of the franchise.

otherworld neworleans cemcreture edward alone in the dark

Beyond the technical achievement that was Alone in the Dark (1992) – I remember the wow-factor of simply playing 3D! I was mostly taken by the classic turn of the century horror story that was presented. I love how over the top it was and how it included so much of the fun Lovecraftian stuff I had been reading at the time. I just wanted to keep that feeling, but still try to have it be modern enough so it didn’t feel dated.

Also, rewriting it meant that we could offer something new to everyone, even people who had not played the original.

EIP: How scary did you try and make this new Alone in the Dark, and how did you accomplish that goal? 

MH: To me, our game falls into a category where I would also put the original games. So I would say they are equally scary. The main takeaway I would expect players to have is just a good time. There is a delightful sense of matinée that I hope the player will enjoy. Sure there are scares, but there is also some warmth, and even humour.

otherworld neworleans alone in the dark

EIP: The Prologue was a great way to give a demo without any spoilers – how did that idea come about? 

Several reasons. The easy go-to answer is that for Alone in the Dark 2 there was a short promotional game made called Jack in the Dark where you played as Grace Saunders. Since we had already repurposed that character to be a patient at the asylum, it would almost be silly not to take the opportunity to play as her.

The other reason being that a large part of the experience is the house itself, and if the prologue had been Edward or Emily they wouldn’t have gotten there yet. Playing a child, I think the player can allow themselves to be a little more absent-minded. You can walk around and kind of be taken in by whatever you see. Also, playing with the innocence of her is fun. While she is a cute kid, Grace is definitely not alright. She is seemingly okay with a lot of things and used to a bit of insanity.

The opening shot of Grace also encapsulates the analogy that I mentioned before of the broken statue. Here we see Grace ripping up the pages for Alone in the Dark to make something new out of paper mâché.

A big thank you to THQ Nordic and Pieces interactive for the interview! If you’re interested in Alone in the Dark, it releases tomorrow, March 20th 2024, on PS5, XSX, and PC via Steam.

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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