Release Date: 5/18/2010
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The Good: Looks and sounds amazing, very engrossing story, clever gun play, always changing
The Bad: Story can be a tad overwhelming, the game could have used a few more ideas, it ends
A lot of games have tried the whole light and dark thing and failed pretty bad (Alone in the Dark was such a game), but Alan Wake succeeds greatly. You play as a writer, Alan Wake, who takes a peaceful vacation to a small hick town called Bright Falls. He’s spending the night at a cabin on Cauldron Lake with his wife when suddenly the lights go out. His wife winds up in the lake, he jumps in to save her, then he suddenly wakes up from a car crash. You play thought Bright Falls trying to figure out why you’re in your own story and trying to write things back the way they were.
The story is great and feels like a top-notch horror/mystery story that you’re actually playing. It’s a bit overwhelming in spots, but it eventually comes together in the end with great twists. One of the best parts of the story is how it’s written out in the game. Alan will narrate as you’re playing in a first person perspective and these are also in the form of hints. You can pick up manuscript pages to find out what’s going to happen next, but this is more a clue than a spoiler. The characters are well written into the story with amazing voice acting and superb dialog. While the story is the meat of the story the action is the best part.
The game isn’t just an adventure, but a third person shooter as well. The shooting mechanics are very clever, and not just your typical “shoot every guy you see” type of game play. You have a flashlight and when you hold LT to boost the light of the flashlight so it can tear apart the darkness on enemies. The way you can tell is very clever. The halo on the enemy will shrink the longer you have the light on them. Once it’s gone you can blast away with one of your guns. The developers made the action pretty cinematic due to the slow motion cut ways the game does when an enemy is coming. Yes, the enemies are human somewhat, but you also have to be scared of your environment. The Darkness can possess anything from crates to barrels to trucks and even tractor trailers. When the Taken are gone you still have to watch out for possessed objects even the floor can be possessed and make you fall from deadly heights.
You can get bigger flashlights that have more juice, and your weapons can also be passive. Use a flare to keep the Taken away from you to get some breathing room. Use flashbangs to take a group out, you can also use a flare (the most powerful gun in the game surprisingly) which has a cool bullet chase camera. The normal guns are just a revolver, shotgun (auto and pump), and a hunting rifle. Sure it’s not a lot, but you don’t need rocket launchers and machine guns in this game. It’s that clever.
Of course navigating the game is also really fun thanks to the simple puzzles and driving sections (which you boost your headlights to take out Taken). The game is almost perfect and everything is perfectly balanced. Even places where you have to use floodlights to take out dozens of Taken or even when you don’t have a flashlight and just have to run it’s never the same thing twice. The game is fairly long with about 6 chapters, and you’ll want more when it ends. The game is broken up into chapters and is played like a TV series with a “Previously on Alan Wake” at the beginning of each chapter which is a small recap. There’s just so much detail in this game with the radio shows, TV shows, and all the little tid bits that get left out of most games are in here, and it makes you want to savor the game.
The game is also gorgeous. This is one of the best looking games available, and it’s really something to behold. All the lighting is wonderful, physics are excellent, and the game is technically sound. Was this game worth the 5-year wait? By boogity it was.