Alone Against the Dark (1989)

Alone Against the Dark is a Call of Cthulhu solo adventure from 1985. I generally find solo adventures a bit underdeveloped for my tastes, but this one is something special.

This globetrotting adventure (I’m not going to get into details of the story, just play it!) makes use of four pre-generated characters over the course of several months. There are a lot of factors to track – time, date, cash on hand, food and sleep – which may seem daunting at first. However, this foundation of mundane record keeping allows for not only interesting encounters and puzzles, but a surprisingly non-linear investigation system that allows you to explore a location at your own pace, in the order you prioritize. The result is unlike any other solo adventure I’ve encountered so far, functioning as almost a kind of analogue videogame.

In fact, it reminds me an awful lot of Eternal Darkness, and how that videogame progressed the story by introducing (and quickly killing off) multiple characters across many time periods. In Alone Against the Dark, you play one character until they are removed from play, then take over with another. When you run out of pre-generated characters, you can use your own, or re-use the included characters. The introductory material makes much of the scenario’s deadliness – losing 12 investigators will still get you a passing score.

But dead investigators are rather the point of Call of Cthulhu, no?

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