“Steven King once wrote that nightmares exist outside of logic and there's little fun to be had in explanations. They're antithetical to the poetry of fear. In a horror story the victim keeps asking why, but there can be no explanation and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest and is what we'll remember in the end. My name is Alan Wake, I'm a writer.” –Alan Wake
Have you ever felt afraid in the darkness? –No? - Then Alan Wake is the right game to get you an ice-cold sweat running down your back. Let me enlighten you with this advice; stay out of the dark... they just keep coming. In Alan Wake, light and dark play an immense role, but how well does this come to its right? In an attempt to deliver an unforgettable experience Alan Wake performs many things right, but slips away in certain aspects.
An interesting story is always a strong one, and this is what Alan Wake does very well. Inspired by the writings of Steven King, the team at Remedy sought to deliver a story with taste. Positively, their metaphoric and dark ‘psychological thriller’ game comes well out of the paint in terms of narrative and story.
The highly successful writer Alan Wake can no longer look at a blank page, and fill it up with words. In an attempt to dissolve his mind from his work he sets out in search of a bit of tranquility in the open and beautiful environment of the north. Barely settled, Alan Wake suddenly finds out his wife has been kidnapped and he sets out on a journey to save his love. Call it cliché, perhaps, but the magic works, and very early on you’re caught up in the story; immersed, as if with a movie. To keep it popping the game unravels more things gradually; and the dark becomes all the more frighteningly powerful. It would be unwise spoiling the story for you, so let’s keep it basic. The way things unfold in this game is smartly done, and I was very keen in discovering more of the mysteries revolving around this ‘Dark Presence’ which follows you in the game.
The game functions in episodes, and every time you reach the end of a chapter, the game allows you to either continue or take a break from the action. When launching the next episode, it briefly recapitulates the happenings from previous episodes, which is convenient if you’re not playing the game in one go.
However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play it in one go. The gameplay in Alan Wake is fun, and certainly refreshing from all these shooting games Iv’e picked up recently. Principally you fend off hordes of dark figures and shadows with a light torch, and when their defenses go down, defeat them with multiple guns. Easy as it sounds, this can be quite challenging when you’re standing alone, vulnerable and naked in the denseness of the woods. Spirits come dashing from behind shrubs with axes, knifes and chainsaws. This is thrilling, yet in an effort to keep gameplay going they spawn all the time, and after the first shocking encounter, it’s sadly nothing but very repetitive.
What’s interesting is that when fiction becomes reality, literally anything can come alive to make your life miserable. Having to fight haunted Bulldozers or giant cranes is a great way to alternate from breaking countless enemies. But the diversity in gameplay elements still isn’t very great in Alan Wake. The few integrated puzzles lack depth and it constantly comes back to: how you are going to pull it off this time. With flares, shock grenades and light instruments there is barely enough to keep you going. While picking up pages from Alan’s book in progress is a reason for continuation, there is nothing to be had in picking up coffee flasks or removing dark blobs, they’re absolutely pointless.
This put aside, Alan Wake must be put in the spotlights for its unique setting choice. I have never even been remotely close to the north, let alone America. It’s a plus that playing Alan Wake lets you discover that hauntingly beautiful environment from your lazy chair. Whether you’re in a pine wood, a giant shed, or climbing a steep mountain pass there’s plenty of things to see. Looking through binoculars on a watch tower is something genuinely done, mind you.
Not unduly, Alan Wake is still a great game to pick up, despite its ageing factor. It is important to create driving stories in games, and Alan Wake surely is a good example. Although the gameplay may be lacking in diversity sometimes, there is still enough push to keep you going anyhow, whether it’s Alan’s friend Barry acting like a retard or that horrible ‘darkness’ you hope to finally destroy once and for all.
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Presentation and Sound - 9/10
This game deserves a 8.5/10