All Alone

by Ian Finley


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Number of Reviews: 10
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1-10 of 10

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Perplexing but atmospheric, May 8, 2019

While very effectively evocative of an atmosphere, it's hard to know what to make of this game. A lot of little clues and faint hints and traces allude to elements that never see any kind of resolution. By the end, it's not entirely clear what happened except in a fairly broad sense. But it's well done, and some minor narrative branching makes it worth replays. I've banged away at it repeatedly and I still feel like I'm missing something that would bring it into sharper relief.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, easy sound-enhanced horror game at home, May 9, 2016

This game is a fairly popular horror game. With sounds on, late at night, it is pretty creepy.

You play a young woman home alone. Various ambient noises come through as you walk around. The radio says a miller is loose, but soon things get worse.

I didn't really understand the ending, even after multiple playthroughs. This game didn't quite click with my sense of hirro, but the first time I did not use sound and just played during the day.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Atmospheric, brooding, but yet another generic horror victim, November 22, 2015
by verityvirtue (London)

You're alone in Harvey's apartment. It is raining. The news is on: the ‘Slicer Killer’, who has young women living alone as his prey, has claimed another victim. Harvey will be back soon.

Because of genre expectations (the genre is horror, few surprises there), I, the reader, was already conditioned to expect something bad to happen. The serial killer news is the most obvious hook that the threat to the PC's safety comes from outside, almost definitely the serial killer. That the PC is actually in danger, though, is implied. I played this once early last year, and I remarked then that because the danger was implied, it meant that there was little sense of urgency. Now that I'm playing it again, I think leaving this implicit made the player make a lot more assumptions. What's to say that the PC fits into the serial killer's demographic? All we know about the PC is that they're wearing Mickey Mouse pajamas, for goodness' sake.

There are some bright spots. Events outside the PC's control heighten the tension, including, like it or not, the news. Despite my misgivings about various cosmetic and storytelling approaches, All Alone does become quite foreboding in parts. The standard 'my dirty apartment' details are drawn up adequately to give the impression of squalour (I like "Piles of Harvey's dirty clothes crouch on the floor.").

But this is not the most polished of games. Ellipses are rendered strangely throughout (maybe it's my interpreter?). There are double spaces after full stops, which is Not A Thing we do nowadays. Also, I get (Spoiler - click to show)"The pick up the knife." when I pick up the knife from the sink.

Another major problem is that there is not nearly enough to know about the PC to make the player care about them. We know more about Harvey and even about the serial killer than we do about the PC - in this way, the PC automatically (and disturbingly) becomes the typical horror movie victim: nameless, generic and lacking almost all autonomy.

There are some events which you may or may not see, depending on what you do and in what order you do it. Some of the later events are satisfyingly foreboding. My grouse, though, is that the ending comes suddenly, and it felt a little out of the blue for me. It was ambiguous, and didn't quite link up with the implications from earlier in the game, but was perfunctorily effective (and I really liked the last sentence).

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Meh., January 2, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

It wasn't BAD per se, but it wasn't exactly thrilling either. Just your run of the mill horror story.

The best part about it is the creepy vibe you get. The sound effects were a nice touch. Other than that, meh.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Effective in its aim but low on interactivity., December 5, 2011
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: TADS, horror

All Alone is a very short horror game riffing on those urban myths about what can happen to women who are unfortunate enough to receive a creepy phone call late at night. You play one such woman fielding one such phone call; you're alone in your apartment when the call arrives, a storm's moving in and the TV news is yelling at you about the local serial killer.

The game is effective in evoking the fear people can experience and generate in their own homes at night, and eliciting that fear from a handful of rooms and domestic props. It also uses a couple of sound effects at choice moments. Unfortunately, it's also tremendously short and not really very interactive. Suspense is built up from a sequence of timed steps which mostly proceed no matter what you're doing. Admittedly this is a rather dull and mechanical perspective on how the game works, but if that suspense is the game's sum effect (Spoiler - click to show)(though the final twist is pretty good, too) it's too little for me in an interactive medium.

One more note: Reviews contemporary to All Alone's release (11 years ago at this time of writing) often quote the author's advice on how to play it – that is, with lights out, alone, at night. This advice wasn't anywhere in the game that I could find, so I assume it was on a promotional website which no longer exists or in a readme file which is no longer attached to the game.

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Bad IF, good F, October 11, 2010

Only 3 stars, but mostly because it's not really a game. A short cast. It's not bad, really. Play it, it won't take more than five minutes. Although I think this is the kind of game which you should make with sound effects and music in the box.

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Great atmosphere, lousy plot, September 22, 2010
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

All Alone actually scared me. Oh, it used a cheap trick to do it, but it was effective and very diegetic: my reaction of "Whaah! Oh, wait, how stupid to be scared by that" is exactly the same reaction the protagonist has in this situation.

What is good about All Alone is that it sets a mood and sets it well. It turns the player-character identification that some have seen as a drawback of IF into a great strength. This is how atmospheric horror ought to be done: claustrophobia, being alone, unexpected events. The uncapitalised out-of-viewpoint-character phrases were especially effective.

On the other hand, most of the story is very much clichéd, and the ending, which isn't, is its weakest part. I think this might have worked better as a game with a stronger puzzle content: you get to try and hide, and depending on how well you do it, you may live for a longer time -- perhaps even survive? Or perhaps not. There are possibilities for more suspense and anxiousness here.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Short and Creepy Horror Piece, September 13, 2009
by Felix Larsson (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Related reviews: literary, ***

Short and creepy ”literary” horror. You are a young female artist waiting for the break-through and recently moved into your boyfriend’s small, shabby apartment—just big enough that you can’t see all of it from any one place. It’s a dark and stormy night; a serial killer stalks the streets; you’re all alone. The phone rings.

Certainly worth reading … and re-reading! once or twice. The details of the story and even the length of the piece varies a bit depending on what you decide to do (there may be more to do than you think) and in what order. Writing is good, and, playing this all alone on a dark and stormy night, you’d better hope your phone doesn’t ring.

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Cold Sweat, July 25, 2009
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

Although it is set in an apartment, All Alone is head-and-shoulders above other such room-limited games, because it successfully induces all of the claustrophobia that other games only hint at. Here, claustrophobia, paralysis, and isolation, all spiral together into a cold sweat of undiluted terror. On the analytical side, this is pure stalker-horror with the player as the potential victim. The setup uses the limitations of the setting and even of IF itself to bring the aforementioned emotions into play. It's quite effective, and the emotions are compromised only by the profanity towards the end.

However, there is nothing original about the antagonist, and the PC's inability to fight back is also rather stereotypical. I found it frustrating that she could not use the phone as a weapon or that she had not taken any precautions at all, especially given that there had been multiple murders recently.

Still, it is a well-done example of the stalker-horror genre, and it's worth playing.

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Atmospheric game with a few flaws, January 24, 2009
by Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway)

This really is a 'mood piece', and should be played as one. Don't expect very much interactivity, or that the choices you do will have much effect on the final outcome (this is, after all, a horror story). The writing is generally good, and manages to convey an increasingly creepy atmosphere, though the parser is only adequate, with a bit too many unknown words. Many people find the ending a bit confusing, but it's not bad, really. All in all, this is a good, if somewhat flawed, mood piece. With a better parser and a better ending, it would have gained an extra star from me.

Note that the author suggests (or rather requires!) that the game be played at night, in a quiet room, and with the lights off. I agree, and also recommend you use an interpreter that supports sound (and no, there won't be any loud screams to scare you, just a few well-placed minor sound effects). The result should be an increasingly uncomfortable experience as the game progresses, which for this type of game is good thing!

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