Alan Wake, a bestselling writer, hasn’t managed to write anything in over two years. Now his wife, Alice, brings him to the idyllic small town of Bright Falls to recover his creative flow. But when she vanishes without a trace, Wake finds himself trapped in a nightmare. Word by word, his latest work, a thriller he can’t even remember writing, is coming true before his eyes.
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By GG-AngelThanatos on May 29, 2010.
Alan Wake is an innovative and engaging game that was designed to pull you into the mind of the main character. Although the game is presented from a third-party perspective, the player is invited to explore the inner workings of the town and its inhabitants which, in my opinion, makes Alan Wake a uniquely immersive experience. With beautifully rendered environments, quirky soundtrack and mix of CG and live action, Remedy’s love for this new franchise becomes apparent in every detail.
Alan Wake makes no attempts to hide its heavy influences in the work of Stephen King. In fact, the first line in the game is taken from King’s book, Danse Macabre. The game’s creator, Sam Lake also credits Twin Peaks as the ambience on which Alan Wake was based. If you don’t like Stephen King or eccentric stories based in small, All-American towns, you most likely will not enjoy this game. However, if you’re into original story lines that allow you to think for yourself, you’re gonna love it.
As soon as Remedy announced the development and concept of Alan Wake, gamers immediately thought of my favorite franchise, Silent Hill. According to creator, Sam Lake, however his story was not based on Konami’s fog-enshrouded town at all. Being a Silent Hill scholar, I can tell you that both games have many of the same influences, but are not the same. If I were to list all the parallels and differences, it would result in spoilers so we’ll save that for another time. If you’re worried that playing Alan Wake will be a revamped Silent Hill 2, rest assured that this is an entirely different story. In fact – if you like Silent Hill, you may appreciate this game very much.
Let it be known that Alan Wake was developed by much of the same team that worked on Max Payne. That being said, Wake’s “inner monologue” is spoken aloud throughout your adventure but with a twist – it’s from a first-person narrative, as if reading a book. This element draws the gamer into the story as if they are reading and interacting with one of Alan Wake’s novels. Although as Boomie pointed out in the forums (GirlGamer member and writer for Your Health Is Low), the narrative is less than Stephen King in quality. Perhaps so it remains simple enough for the “every gamer”, the spoken and written narratives are of a young adult reading level.
A running theme in Alan Wake is a fear of the dark. In a creative twist, your enemies come in the form of the darkness itself, rather than simply emerging from within it. Your flashlight becomes your weapon and you learn to relish every bit of light you encounter throughout the game.
The pacing in this game is rather good, in that there’s a steady flow of ups and downs. Just when you think you’re kickin’ ass and taking names, the game introduces you to an ambush, boss or new challenge. NOTE: As with all my reviews, this information is based on “NORMAL” mode and obviously does not reflect higher difficulty settings.
Alan Wake tells a story using a variety of mediums, both passive and active. For example, you can be controlling Alan in the story as he tells you what he’s thinking, then reading a page from a manuscript, followed by watching a live action show on TV. Sam Lake studied screenwriting, and it shows. The game is divided into “Episodes,” just like a TV show. After each episode is completed, you get a title screen with a song. Upon continuing, you get a brief synopsis of the last episode, i.e. “Last time, on Alan Wake.” This gives the feeling of watching a season of your favorite show on DVD, only you’re controlling the main character.
Alan Wake is not without its faults, of course – voice overs are often out of sinc with the facial motions, and sometimes you have to pick up items in a certain order, or you lose your chance due to a cut scene. Although the story is original and engaging, the ending purposely leaves you wanting more. The first DLC continues the story, and is included with all new purchases of the game. The second DLC will be available shortly after, and the live action spin off series, “Bright Falls” is available now through http://www.brightfalls.com. Even though the game is over (for now), I still find myself turning the game over and over in my mind, processing it. There is no “Scooby Doo” confession to tell you how it ends, and I will leave it at that.
A solid game.