Travel to the sleepy, creepy town of Bright Falls, Washington, in Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake. Over five years in the making, this episodically-structured action-horror title puts you in the shoes of a world-famous author who discovers that the events of his holiday in the backwoods of the United States are eerily reflecting those seen in his latest novel… A novel he doesn’t remember writing! After his wife is kidnapped by a mysterious force known as the Dark Presence, Wake sets out to rescue her and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding a book from which he can’t seem to escape…
• Unique light-based combat: burn darkness “shields” off your enemies with tools like flashlights and flareguns, then finish them with cabin-variety weapons like the antique rifle or the revolver
• Ghoulishly creepy atmosphere: experience realistic environments with rolling fog and flickering shadows that will keep you on the edge of your seat
• Horror fans, rejoice: tons of references to creepy works from masters of the macabre like Stephen King
• Gripping storyline that will keep you hooked until the end of the game
Alan Wake is a third-person shooter psychological horror video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The story...
Alan Wake - E3 2009: Opening Gameplay
Check out gameplay footage from the game's opening section!
Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake is an action-horror title over five years in the making. Structured episodically like a television series, Alan Wake is full of twists and turns that’ll keep you hooked until the end of the game. The game’s hero (Alan Wake!) is a bestselling author with a serious case of writer’s block who is vacationing in the sleepy town of Bright Falls, Washington, hoping to get away from it all. Unfortunately, his well-intentioned wife Alice scuppers his plans by sneaking a typewriter into the cabin in an attempt to get him to start writing again: instead he gets mad and storms out of the cabin like a whiny baby, and, predictably, he comes to regret this decision. Heading into the woods, Alan hears Alice screaming: as he runs back he sees her being dragged into a lake by a shadowy backwoods critter. The next thing he knows, he’s awake in the wreckage of his car just outside the town, which has been taken over by dark-dwelling boogiemen who apparently aren’t fans of Alan Wake’s novels, as they’re pretty intent on killing him.
The “Dark Presence” is your primary enemy in Alan Wake. It can control any number of things to make Alan’s life difficult, possessing local hillbillies, animals such as crows, or even inanimate objects, all of which will try their darndest to kill our poor writer hero. Luckily, Alan’s not so helpless, because as everyone knows, writers are badasses. Being the smart man that he is, Alan quickly figures out that enemies possessed by the Dark Presence, known as “the Taken,” have a not-so-surprising aversion to light. Alan’s flashlight quickly becomes his most useful tool in his struggle against the Dark Presence: he can use it to literally burn away the shadowy shields protecting his enemies. Alan also uses flare guns and flash bangs in combination with backwoods cabin-variety weapons like shotguns, antique rifles and revolvers to fight off the monsters that come between him and the search for his wife.
One of the coolest things about Alan Wake is the way it draws on an array of classic horror source material to create its creepy world. The plot is clearly inspired by Stephen King, who frequently writes about people whose real lives come to reflect previously imaginary events depicted in their creative projects. The setting of Alan Wake could have come from Steven King’s short story “The Mist,” about a rural town that becomes shrouded in a fog full of monstrous creatures. There’s even a scene where someone slowly axes through a doorway àlaJack Torrance of The Shining. The game is inspired by books and films, but it is also a self-contained multimedia experience, with found journals, in-game radio broadcasts, television show episodes, and pages of Alan’s lost novel all contributing to fleshing out the story world. Well, almost all… but I’ll get to that later in the review. The game is even structured like a televised version of a novelization, with its own cinematic qualities: this game seriously works to blur the boundaries between media, making it pretty unique, even if it gets a little tiresome and hokey at times.
The game’s graphics and sound design are both really good at drawing the player into the Twin Peaks-style town of Bright Falls. You’ll explore eerie forests, abandoned cabins and farmhouses in your hunt for the pages of a lost manuscript that holds the key to rescuing Alan’s wife. These landscapes are deliciously creepy, wreathed in mist and swift-moving shadows that will have you constantly questioning whether the enemy you just saw in the corner of the screen is real or a figment of Alan’s wild imagination. The music, too, is brilliant, a classical score conveying an atmosphere of subtle fear that crescendos into terror at all the right moments.
Alan Wake is a really great horror game, but if there’s one thing that sucks about it, it’s the product placement. At several points you’ll experience the insulting presence of commercials for companies like Ford, Verizon, and Microsoft. For example, at one point in the game Alan is being chased through an old building by a swirling mass of sinister shadows, and the tension is huge. As I ran into one room, I saw a TV mounted on the wall. All of a sudden, it starts blaring a fucking Verizon ad at me, cheesy fuzz guitar music drowning out the pizzicato orchestral soundtrack that was, until now, making my neck hairs stand on end: “Verizon Wireless has you covered. Check out the latest games!” I’m trying to, Verizon: now get your invasive media the hell out of my face and stop ruining my immersion! This really violated my gaming experience. I enjoyed Alan Wake, but the commercials disturbed me and made me wonder if this will become an increasingly prevalent trend in video games. Eugh.
Alan Wake is a horror masterpiece marred only by atrocious product placement and an occasionally cheesy script. The game’s corny dialogue can be pretty bad at times, but at the same time, it works, given the game’s episodic structure. After all, it’s almost impossible to find a horror-themed TV show that doesn’t occasionally venture into hammy territory, and this kind of lameness is in part what makes the genre so appealing. With gorgeous visuals, an engrossing storyline, engaging combat and enough tongue-in-cheek references to please even the most passive of horror fans, Alan Wake is definitely a game you should look forward to playing alone in the dark. Before I turn off the lights on this review, here’s the final verdict: Alan Wake gets a Z-Score of 87/100.