Remedy's latest action game, Alan Wake, is a suspenseful survival-horror that offers an attention-grabbing plot, stunning environments and a fantastic "light versus dark" mechanic, which sets it apart from its counterparts. Alan wake is a famous fiction writer who escapes to the small fictional Twin Peaks-esque town of Bright Falls, to get away from the pressures of his job and to save his marriage. However his restful vacation soon turns into a paranormal nightmare when his wife disappears and he discovers that the town has a dark side that's mutated its residents into something monstrous.
As Wake, you must enter this nerve-wracking adventure, grab a gun and fight for your life!
Paul Martin May 19, 2010 360
Are you afraid of the dark? It's a question that will haunt you throughout your playthrough of Alan Wake. Developed by Remedy Entertainment (Most renowned for creating the Max Payne series) and Published by Microsoft the game had been originally announced in 2001 or at least the games early planning stages had been. At E3 2005 Alan Wake emerged into the limelight with mind blowing ideas and promised a story driven action, horror, survival game that would make you scream for more when the final credits appear on the screen. That said Remedy have not fallen short on their promise.
You play as Alan Wake the main character in the game. Alan is a bestselling crime fiction author who has lost his motivation and can't seem to get his creative mojo up and running. He hasn't written anything in two years leaving Alice, Alan's wife to push the idea for a holiday getaway to the small town of Bright Falls. Alan agrees that time away from all the pressure surrounding him may give him the creative edge on his return. In the early stages of the story Alice pushes Alan to see the town's therapist to try and reignite the creative mojo Alan has lost causing an explosive argument between husband and wife. Alan storms out knowing Alice won't follow him due to her fear of the dark, but whilst stomping away from the holiday cabin Alice screams for help. Alan returns to the house to find his wife missing and the back door open. When investigating outside he notices a figure in the water of the lake and jumps in without hesitation thinking its Alice. Upon that moment Alan Wake's story becomes a nightmare waking up from a car crash and having no memory of what has transpired since the disappearance of his wife Alice. Fighting for his own survival using sheer determination to find and save his wife from a mysterious dark presence Alan Wake is a humble story about light and dark.
The game has a twist where light is your weapon against the games main enemy, the dark presence. It's clever and unique as I can't think of any game to date with the same light vs dark game mechanics. It's as genius as Resident Evils zombie headshot and Dead Spaces limb removal to defeat the bad guys its simply unique and fun to play. The gameplay is one of the many things Remedy have done right in all the years of developing games. Playing the game in similar movement as Max Payne without the slow motion firing through the air moments you always feel in control of the main character. The controllers are easily mapped out and well designed to make minimum fuss when having to change weapon or popping a flare in the desperate attempt to save yourself in the last dying moments from the dark presence. There are many weapons at your disposal, the main being Alan Wakes torch. When using the torch against the dark presence a circle will appear. As long as you keep the light on the enemy the circle will gradually become smaller eventually leaving the enemy vulnerable to gun fire, effectively the light takes away a shield on the dark presence. At that point Wake will have to kill the enemy with normal bullets from everyday weaponry. Think of Shotguns, Revolvers, Rifles and you get the idea of Wakes inventory as you progress through the game. However, there are more effective weapons in the game such as Flare Guns and Flashbangs that will dispose of multiple enemies at the same time. The game always feels fresh as the dark presence comes in many forms some that are harder and more light resistance than others increasing the challenge in some areas of the game. The game also provides a great feeling and will provide many jumpy moments due to the dark presence appearing from several directions at any one time. The games layout is similar to a TV series leaving cliff hangers at the end of each episode and will always leave you wanting to play more to see what happens next. A very impressive addition is the "Previously on Alan Wake" at the start of each episode, which basically sums the story up to that point in the game. It's a nice touch to make the TV series approach feel a little more authentic. Although the only small downside, which is probably expected in a single player only game is that the game offers a small amount of replayability with unlocking a new difficulty and having the remaining collectables you didn't find to be found once the game is complete. Overall though the gameplay is fun, new, easy to pick up and the story is addictive leaving no complaints to be issued towards Remedy for providing a single player only quality title.
The audio is fantastic. At the end of each episode the game plays a song that will hit all the right notes and will leave you sitting there and take that small minute to collect yourself, maybe even change your underwear. It's perfect and has the ability to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The voice acting is fantastic mainly Wake, his publisher Barry and the local radio presenter of Bright Falls are by far the most impressive. The sound effects are always a pleasure to hear leaving the game pretty flawless in the audio department.
The Graphics are most likely the biggest downside of the game as they are occasionally brilliant but sometimes there are small hiccups such as flowers, or blades of grass rendering as you walk towards them and just appear in plain sight. Although this isn't always the case and is maybe being picky the game has been in development many years and it seems like a small issue to have given the amount of time Remedy had at their disposal. The shading and light effects are brilliant as you would expect given the game revolves around the light vs dark mechanics. The cut scenes are impressive although the mouth and face animations can sometimes look dated. Another small downside, which is only my opinion, is at the end of every episode instead simply ending with text on screen saying "End of Chapter 1" the game could have been made to feel more authentic with say a credit list of the actors within the game scrolling down the screen like an actual TV series would have. However, that is only my opinion and it could come into debate that Alan Wake played by Alan Wake would look corny. Overall there are small graphic issues, but not enough to bring down the game. It does look beautiful, but had slight room for improvement. If anything it's more of an annoyance with the title being in development so long and they didn't resolve the smallest issues.
Overall the game is a great purchase for anyone who likes a great story driven game with more twists than a curly wurly. I generally think it's a competitor for "Game of the Year 2010", however the replayability maybe Alan Wakes ultimate downfall. Although there are many collectables to find in the game there is no incentive for anyone that does not wish to complete the game fully or has already found all the collectables to play the game again. I generally do however think it's one of the best games I've played this year and would recommend anybody to buy it even at full price. 9/10