Jack in the Dark (Christmas Special)

Developer: Infogrames
Publisher:  Infogrames/Interplay
Played on: Alone in the Dark: The Trilogy

Jack in the dark was a short promotional game/teaser for Alone in the Dark 2, its theme is a strange mix of Halloween and Christmas, in which you play as Grace Saunders, a young girl who was out trick or treating and enters a toy store that is apparently haunted, as all of the toys come to life, kidnap Santa Claus and want to kill you (Am I the only one getting a Nightmare Before Christmas vibe?).

The game plays as a survival horror, in fact, being a teaser for Alone in the Dark 2, it was probably to second game in the genre to have ever been created (that is, if you only count the standard formula for the genre). 

Unlike the first Alone in the Dark, here there is no combat, the game focuses entirely on puzzle solving which is an odd thing considering Alone in The Dark 2 was almost exclusively focused on combat, but the problem here is that even though this is just a short 5-15 minute game, a lot of the puzzles require quite a bit lot of lateral thinking, seriously, how I was supposed to know you have to feed candy to the jack in the box and THEN show him his reflection?

If you've played the old Resident Evil games you're probably familiar with the concept of 'tank controls' which is the perfect way to describe how it feels like when controlling Grace, she's a slow walker, slow turner, it's a pain to get her to sprint, even the act of investigating nearby items requires you to enter a menu, choose your option and then leave said menu.

Graphically the game doesn't look too hot, every character is made out of a few flat shaded 3D polygons whereas the backgrounds are 2D animations, possibly pre-rendered, if you're going to play this on Dos-box, I recommend you fiddle with the options and add some Anti-Aliasing.

There's only one song in the game and it's constantly repeating, though it's pretty Christmas-y in the mood it sets, however, I always found it interesting that if you turn the music off, it suddenly feels like you went from a Christmas themed game, to a scary Halloween themed one.

Overall Jack in the Dark is an interesting 'game' it's not a demo of Alone in the Dark 2 but neither is it really a game, it's part Christmas and part Halloween so if nothing else I can say it's an interesting title, a shame for its obtuse puzzles and controls.

- Interesting mix of Christmas and Halloween themes
- A piece of gaming history

- Not really a game, not really a demo
- Tank-like controls are a pain
- Some of the puzzles require a bit of Moon-logic

Final Grade: N/A

Packaging Review: This game was played using the 'Alone in the Dark: The Trilogy' compilation 

Christmas cheer rating: 

The game's Christmas theme feels a bit slapped on, remove the cheerful music, Santa and the Christmas tree outside the toy shop and instead you get a Halloween game, though the ending does feel like something you'd expect from a Christmas game, but everything else is just skin deep. Two and a half snowmen out of five.


  1. Something tells me that it was trying to emulate point-and-click adventure games so it probably would have done better on a PC.

    1. Actually it is on PC.

      Alone in the Dark was the series that created the Survival Horror genre and they were strongly influenced by the point n' click adventure genre

  2. I remember playing the demo and being pretty lost. A shame that Alone in the Dark 2 all but abandoned everything that made the first one great. The combat is no fun at all and the puzzles are even more bizarre.

  3. Time to try this out, I enjoy point and click games :D.