Review: Alan Wake
Hours Enjoyed: 9 – 10
Hours Hated: 1- 2
Things Loved: Action packed; good cinematics; memorable cut scenes; girl in underwear; easy controls; pretty effects
Things Hated: Horrible lip syncing; the forest; stamina problems; Alan Wake — himself
Reasons To Buy/Not Buy: I’d definitely recommend a buy as you’ll probably find yourself playing it again on Hard or Nightmare. You can only unlock Hard and Nightmare once you’ve completed Normal – which is cool.
Final Conclusion — Like deep sea diving: you’ll be submerged. Deeply submerged — into a very cool story.
What the hell – Things Hated: Alan Wake — himself? It’s true, I don’t like this guy much. He is such a douchebag. To be fair, everything that happened to him was something he deserved. I mean, his attitude really sucks and he treats people like crap. Big shot writer, yeah — cool guy.
So cool, that the reason for Alan Wake and his hot wife even traveling to Bright Falls is simply because he cannot write. It’s been two years since his last novel and thereafter he has not been able to write a single word, which makes me think. If Alan could not write a word for two years, what was he doing?
Bird watching? Drinking? Partying? Sleeping around? Gym? Bah — I doubt he went to gym. I got highly agitated because Wake has as much stamina as a dead cow. I mean, at least be able to run 10 metres without getting tired. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?
Now don’t get me wrong. While he might be seriously unfit, he can Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive, and Dodge pretty darn well. And yes, you’ll learn this button-combination pretty quickly as cool cutscenes will, literally, make you jump out of your chair. Especially when playing at about 2am — in the dark.
Funny enough, at one point I even remember my friend getting a fright, and he wasn’t even playing. It’s just that immersive.
I loved this game. It was amazing, and I think I actually lost a part of my life as I was so submerged into the story.
Name: Alan Wake
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Action-Adventure
Platforms: Xbox 360 only
Developers: Remedy Entertainment
Publishers: Microsoft Game Studios
Alan Wake has been labeled as a Psychological Action Thriller and the game remains true to every word. If you’re scared of the dark — and there is lots of dark — you’ll be Psychologically afraid; if you love Action, well blasting guys with a flare gun has never been more fun; if you like a Thrill, there are some frightening cutscenes.
The story is based around Alan Wake who is suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. After his last novel he has not been able to write a single word for over two years and his wife, Alice, tries to help by contacting Dr Emil Hartman. Dr Emil Hartman has an institution, in Bright Falls, which can help Wake overcome his writing problem.
Both Alan and Alice land up in Bright Falls. Alan thinks he is on holiday where Alice is trying to
force help him write once again. Unfortunately – or fortunately, this is where everything goes pear-shaped.
Now just so you know, Alice is afraid of the dark. In fact, she is so scared that she would not even enter the dark cabin — purely because it was dark.
So, Alice, wearing minimal clothes, gets Taken by the Dark Presence. And this is where your quest begins. You’re feeling guilty for what happened — you had a fight — and you finally decide that you should save her.
But little do you know, you’re actually missing a week of your life. For a solid seven days you were writing an evil story. Without ruining the game — just know that you didn’t finish the story.
Something happens where you wake up from your slumber and realise that you have to save Alice. You find yourself running around the woods, a bit too much. Okay – I can’t actually stress how annoying the woods get after 4 hours of play. Promise I wasn’t scared!
You’ll notice that I hated two hours of the game, now you know why. Those damn forests.
Alice has been Taken by the Dark Presence, an evil force trying to rule the world. The Dark Presence controls human bodies, all of which are town people. These turn out to be your enemies. They have darkness surrounding them, and darkness inside of them. These bad guys are called Taken.
To destroy the Taken you’ll need to shine your light on them. This will disperse their dark-protection. Thereafter, they still have darkness stuck inside of them. Use your gun to finish the job.
Once you’ve killed a Taken, or six with a single flashbang, you won’t only feel rewarded but also undisputed. Man – it feels so cool when you swing around and shoot them in the face after a cutscene.
The Taken have overturned the town. They roam the streets, roof tops and even forests.
Alan Wake wasn’t built to be a shooter, it was meant to have an intriguing story line, and it does. The game is divided into six ‘Episodes’ which is similar to a TV series. Once an Episode starts you could find yourself jumping into the next part of the game, or playing in the past – two years before your trip to Bright Falls.
Episodes usually start with cool videos. It’s fun and rewarding to sit back and watch what happens. Naturally, this leads to the next problem. The lip syncing — it’s horrible. It’s like watching Kung Pow — except this isn’t on purpose.
Episodes end with music. Rewarding and also Psychologically fitting to what you just went through.
Remedy’s addition of Episodes is a really nice effect because it makes it feel as if you are in a book, or a movie — and maybe even a game.
Throughout Alan Wake you will be running — actually, walking — around picking up Manuscript pages. The Manuscript pages are the pages from your story which you wrote in your seven day slumber.
Manuscript pages aren’t important, however they offer a good insight into the story. They help explain what might happen next, and what is happening back at town. Really helpful when you are stuck in the forest. Once again, this gets you thinking.. ‘When the hell is this actually going to come true?’
There is a lot to do in the game. Cool achievements to unlock and many things to find, but the whole point of Alan Wake is to save the lady. It’s a damsel in distress game, but you won’t even realise this. Your wife was kidnapped by the Dark Presence and you’re out to find her. You keep hearing her voice. She phones you. And there are memories which pop-up at random times throughout the game.
To help you find Alice, your manager Barry Wheeler comes out to Bright Falls. Barry decided to make the trip because he could not get hold of Alan for seven days straight. He was really angry about Alan’s silence, but quickly cheered up once he heard that Alan had written something. Someone loves the smell of money, don’t they?
Other characters include Sheriff Sarah Breaker. She’s pretty level-headed and reasonably tank. When in battle, this braud kills Taken without even trying.
The best part about Sarah would be that, despite the fact that police are constantly after you, she takes your side. Even when the FBI’s drunk agent Robert Nightingale hunts you down.
With help from Barry and Sarah you find yourself traveling all over town, killing Taken, collecting Manuscript pages and trying to find Alice. Of course, like any horror — things will go wrong. Not only will things go wrong, but they will also only effect you. Moreover, this makes it interesting and challenging.
Alan Wake features lots of interesting additions. For example, there are radios which you can tune into. This gives you a little bit of insight to what the police might be doing, or it might offer relaxation through subtle music.
There are also TV shows which have a deeper meaning in the game. And finally, there are TV sets which show you, in a room writing the story. It’s almost like a live feed — which is freaky.
Following this you can drive cars — which is cool. You get around a lot faster. You’ll also find a lot of generators which you will need to start up, to get light and use heavy machinery. Way cool.
To be honest the whole game has a deep meaning. From the music at the end of an episode all the way to the names of the characters.
Finally, Alan Wake’s ending is open to interpretation. You should think about what happened. You’re allowed to have it your way.
The final line said, “Alan Wake’s journey through the night will continue”.
Does this mean sequel? Hopefully.
My Overall Thoughts:
The concept of Alan Wake is pretty much a personification of evil. Evil takes the form of people who have been Taken by darkness. As a child you fear darkness purely because you feel insecure and vulnerable.
To defend evil you need light. In the day you feel safe, and this is why your torch will save you from Taken. Disperse the darkness with floodlights, torches, lanterns and searchlights.
I think one of the main reasons why I hated the forest was probably because this was the scariest part of the game. Every time something frightening happens, it’s because you’re running through the forest and before you know it someone pops out from behind a tree. It gets you every time.
Alan Wake featured scenes and places which were naturally scary. From a jail cell to the forest to old barns in the middle of no where. Remedy made sure that Alan Wake featured an organic kind of scare. There were no triggers to set off bad guys, instead you just went with it — only to find yourself on the floor from shock.
One questionable thing about Alan Wake would be: how come we do not learn about any other characters? You’re saving a woman you feel like you barely know. This sometimes makes it tough to struggle through fight scenes, because like I said – Alan isn’t a nice guy, so maybe he needs to get hurt?
Furthermore, I noticed that Alan Wake only has one set of clothes. The jacket, the hoody and jeans. And distinctly I remember in the beginning of an Episode where you seem him walk into the house wearing the same outfit. Two years ago. The only change to Alan’s appearance — throughout the entire game — would be where he was well shaven a couple years back.
Overall, Alan Wake was probably the closest I’ve ever been scared in entertainment. Horror movies are usually funny. This game, not so much. I recall getting a fright at least once or twice while running around trying to save Alice.. in her underwear.
I really enjoyed this game. A lot. It’s a scary game and I played it in the dark when it was cold, rainy and thunderous outside. It really set the mood.
A few stats for number junkies. Just so you know, there will be no average.