Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360
Release Date: May 18th, 2010
“When the wife of the best-selling writer Alan Wake disappears on their vacation, his search turns up pages from a thriller he doesn’t even remember writing. A dark presence stalks the small town of Bright Falls, pushing Wake to the brink of sanity in his fight to unravel the mystery and save his love.” [via Xbox.com]
You play as Alan Wake, who is a best-selling author with writer’s block. He goes on vacation with his wife in hopes to relax. Upon arriving in Bright Falls, and receiving a key to a lake cottage from a mysterious woman everything goes horribly wrong. Alan’s wife disappears and he finds himself inside one of his thrillers that he doesn’t remember writing.
As the intricate story unfolds you will want to keep playing to find out what happens next. When you finish one episode you will want to play the next to find out what happens; just like the set up of a TV series, which they draw inspiration from for their episodic level set up.
Alan Wake plays out like any other action thriller. Remedy has managed to take the basic gameplay; however, and mix it up to help Alan Wake stand alone from the crowd. As you explore Bright Falls and its surrounding forest you will heavily use light as a weapon. Darkness surrounds Bright Falls and you must first use your light to remove the darkness before you can harm the creatures. Extra tactics take place when you fight large groups of enemies with only your flashlight and a pistol. Your beam of light cannot target everyone and as you slowly remove the darkness from one enemy the rest will advance on you. Using cinematic dodges will help a lot but will take time to master. A cinematic dodge is a dodge you make right before an enemy strike that slows down time and gives you some time to think of your next step in the chaos
Ammo conservation is very important in Alan Wake. At first you will receive a lot of ammo, but the levels are decently long and ammo is scarce. Preserve your ammo, or you will be stuck with an empty gun and surrounded by multiple enemies. Aiming for the head helps, but due to the weird aiming system it may take some practice before you can easily dispatch enemies. By this time new enemies will be after you and adapting will have to commence. You can easily get surrounded by enemies without even knowing it which causes you to need to adjust your camera to hold them all back. This constant change keeps you on your toes, but makes you feel constantly against the odds. The constant camera changing can also cause trees or boulders to block your screen, but anyone who plays a lot of this type of game won’t be bothered by it much. Easier settings will help you ease into the game and is advised to be played first, but jumping right into the harder setting will present a challenge that you may find fun.
Collectables are abundant throughout Bright Falls and will call for multiple trips back on different difficulties in order to collect them all. Unlike other games, the collectables in Alan Wake aren’t all useless. Though the coffee thermoses and the can pyramids are in a general sense useless, the other collectables increase the depth of the story. Manuscripts which are scattered throughout the levels actually tell you more about the story which you are in. The downfall of the manuscripts is that they sometimes reveal what is about to happen before you actually do it.
Audio & Graphics
A brilliant soundtrack gives an ambient feel throughout every level within Alan Wake. The voice acting is also nice, but not all of it is of equal value. A few of the sounds overlap as well which interrupts the story. The graphics are also beautiful. Remedy has left no visual detail overlooked in the development of Alan Wake. The lighting and environment add to the atmosphere of the game, which adds to the thrill of the game.
The achievements found in Alan Wake. A huge chunk of them are story related, while another huge chunk is for collecting achievements. The collecting achievements are not that difficult since the game keeps track of how many you have collected, and the episodic gameplay lets you jump to any level to collect on it. The levels are long, but luckily they are also split into sections for much more ease. The hardest achievement will be beating the game on Nightmare due to the enemies being stronger, but it is still manageable. Overall the achievement list is pretty good, and all of them are manageable.
Alan Wake is a fun experience that plays out like watching a TV show. Though it may be annoying at certain points, but it helps for a gamer who only plays one level a day. The gameplay follows closely with other action games of this type but the added light mechanic makes the experience more unique. With tons of collectables to get and an intricate story that will keep you wanting to find out what happens next, Alan Wake is a very good single player purchase. Alan Wake is story driven game that plays like reading a book or watching a TV series which is a fun experience.
I give Alan Wake:
- Unique tactics that involve using light as a weapon.
- A psychological story that will even get a watchful player second guessing himself.
- Relatively large environments, collectibles, and multiple difficulty levels for added replay value if you are into collecting things.
- Constantly running out of ammo if you aren’t careful and accurate.
- Aiming your gun takes a while to get used too.
- The manuscript pages give away the game before even playing it. Although they are a vital part of the story, don’t read them if you don’t want to know what’s about to happen.