Alan Wake Review
Alan Wake is probably one of the most disregarded games in history. Over five years in development and made by the respected development team Remedy Entertainment (the same people who created the famous Max Payne franchise) and you would think the game would be a box office hit with the gamers. Yet the game never caught on to the public eye nor has it reached the profit margin due to less-than-impressive sales figures. Hopefully I can convince you to pick up a copy after reading this review.
The Story and Setting:
Alan Wake takes place in the small town of Bright Falls. Alan Wake and his wife Alice travels to Bright Falls in hopes of lifting his writer’s block that has been stalling his career as a famous book author for over two years. The writer is met trouble as his wife is kidnapped by a mysterious force called “the Dark Presence” and finds a manuscript that he has no memories of writing. He is now faced with the task of finding his wife as events from the manuscript enfolds and unleashes terror to the citizens of Bright Falls. This game easily has to be one of the most unique stories I have ever seen in my years of gaming. The brief description of the game alone should be enough to tell you that this isn’t the standard “shoot the bad guys and save the day” kind of story. Remedy has put a considerable amount of focus into crafting the world and characters of Alan Wake and I can tell Remedy has probably concentrated most of their effort in this department. The main character Alan Wake spends a majority of the game talking to himself in soliloquy, as if he is reading the story to the audience and seemly breaking the forth wall. This element of storytelling made me feel as if I were reading a book rather than playing a game which is not necessarily bad, if anything bringing more of that Remedy-branded uniqueness to the experience. The game itself plays like a television series with each chapter of the game being treated as “episodes” and every episode starting with the classic TV introduction “previously on Alan Wake…”. Just like a TV show, a game would not be successful without a remarkable cast of characters. Remedy makes sure that every character has their own personal quarks that distinguishes them from the others. The real problem of the story is toward the ending. Alan Wake’s choices that adversely affect the ending leaves the gamer with a sense of confusion. The fate of the Alan Wake and the supporting characters is not explained and left for assumptions.
What Alan Wake does with their music that separates them from the pack is playing them at the end of an episode. It features tracks including “Haunted” by Poe to more well known artists like David Bowie and his famous song “Space Oddity”. These songs seem giving a sense of satisfaction when completing a episode and gives the authentic feeling of watching a TV series that Remedy tries to convey. The limited edition for the Xbox 360 and Collectors Edition for the PC has an extended soundtrack and addition music from the original composer Petri Alanko. Remedy has seemly once again carefully handpicked these songs and chosen the right composer for their for their game.
Alan Wake fights his way through a dark force called the Taken. These are the locals of the Bright Falls being taken over by an evil entity called the Dark Presence. Because of the Dark Presence is prone to the light, enemies only come out at night to capture Alan. He must use any source of light to burn away the darkness inhabiting within the Taken and kill them.What sounds like a well though concept is unfortunately short-sided and poorly executed. The gunplay is without a doubt the weakest part of the game. I say this because it is missing the amount of content of a typical shooter. With the exception of light-based weapons, Alan Wake only uses three guns throughout the entire game: a revolver, shotgun, and hunting rifle. He is describes strictly as a writer and never shooting a gun outside a range but I am certain that the writers of the game are talented enough to come up with a idea to increase his arsenal to more than just three guns. The regular enemies are smart and will work in a group to flank you. You must strategically find ways to separate them and shoot the more dangerous targets. Gameplay gets even more intense in the nightmare difficulty. The Taken are so much more resistant to light and bullets that I find myself running to the nearest light post rather than typically taking them head on on more easier difficulties. Boss fights on the other hand are disappointingly unsatisfying. Every boss has the same abilities and does same exact moves. It seems like Remedy spent absolutely no time choreographing the boss fights and tacked them on last minute. The game can be beaten in less than ten hours in a speed run, however I do not recommend quickly blazing through the game skipping the cut scenes and not taking the time read the pages of the manuscript. This is a story-heavy game and Remedy put so much attention to detail to making every scene stick in your head. Take the time to absorb everything Alan Wake has to offer and you will be rewarded be a pleasant and fulfilling experience.