Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release Date: 2/16/2012
For Fans Of: Psychological Thrillers, Flashlights, Batteries
Also Available On
The Good: Graphical upgrade looks great, memorable story and characters, great pacing, interesting gun play mechanics, included DLC is a bonus
The Bad: Gun play gets repetitive after awhile, can be tough in spots, driving isn’t any fun, a little on the short side
Even after 2 years Alan Wake is still an excellent game. With updated visuals for PC, and the inclusion of both DLC, the PC version is worth the buy. Even 360 players should come back for another shot just to see the sweet new looks. Alan Wake was my favorite story of 2010 and is still great today. You play as Alan Wake, a famous New York author who takes a vacation to the Northwest in Bright Falls. He ends up renting a cabin, and before you know it his wife jumps into the lake. He then wakes up from a car accident and so your adventure begins. I can’t give away anything except he is writing what is happening to him. The story is very novel like and has a great pace. The narrative is delivered with likeable characters and great voice acting.
You walk around collecting manuscript pages that will tell you kind of what’s going to happen in the next scene. You can also find coffee thermoses as collectibles, but I wonder why thermoses? Is this a jab at the hot coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or a little sign that the guys at Remedy were up long nights trying to complete this? Who knows, but it is an interesting thing. There is also a strange phone barcode tag that has a strange stab at Max Payne. I think back when Alan Wake was released it was a hint at Max Payne 3.
The whole game is wrapped around light and dark gameplay, literally. You use your flashlight to burn away darkness from The Taken and then shoot them until they disappear. The gunplay is challenging and can be fun. There are various tools for burning away darkness like the flare gun, which does major area damage, flashbangs, and flares give you distance from enemies. You can also get bigger flashlights later on which burn away darkness faster. Most enemies will throw weapons at you or attack you directly with scythes, axes, and bats. The whole game is set in the countryside so The Taken look like farmers, sheriffs, loggers, and various other occupations in those areas. The Taken are pretty creepy because they spurt out lines about their occupation in mixed normal talk and deep creepy voices.
There are some environmental light sources you can use like giant spotlights, and some smaller ones to help you fight the darkness. The combat overall is fun and challenging, but never changes which means repetition sets in quickly. Thankfully the game is paced nicely so you aren’t constantly fighting. A lot of the time you are running from the darkness and it can possess objects and throw them at you. Of course you have to burn it away so that stops. Large vehicles like tractors, bulldozers, and trucks act as bosses. A lot of the fighting is also broken up with cut scenes and in-game dialog.
This is pretty much all there is to it except the lame attempts at puzzles. There are a few spread out, but they really aren’t puzzles at all. I think the game could have used some better ones, but what is here works well enough. There are some fun set pieces that are memorable, but there is one issue I don’t understand. Why do survival horrors have crappy driving mechanics? First it was Alone in the Dark, then Deadly Premonition, and now Alan Wake. The cars drive like you’re on ice, and despite boosting the lights to run Taken over, they damage the car real quick.
Anyways, the game looks gorgeous with nice DirectX 10 effects that are actually noticeable. The lighting is better, the effects are better, and the higher resolution textures are a sight for sore eyes. The Xbox 360 version, even when it was released, didn’t look too hot with blurry textures which made it look ugly in spots. If you have the rig to run this game you are in for a visual treat. The nice effects like lens flare from the flares that blind your vision, and overall lighting effects look fantastic here.
Overall, for the $30 Alan Wake is a steal for PC gamers and a nice price for 360 owners so maybe traded in their game long ago and want another go. This game is memorable and so is the story. This is a game you will talk about amongst friends. From the Night Springs mini-shows you can watch, to the radio station commentary, there is a lot of ambiance and atmosphere that horror games need to learn from.