Alan Wake Reviews

  • Baron TanksBaron Tanks94,545
    18 May 2010 27 Jul 2010
    115 5 9
    Alan Wake

    Notes:
    Update: Review included for the first DLC, The Signal.

    This review was written after one playthrough of the game.

    In case you wonder, this review is as much spoiler-free as possible.

    This review is on the lengthy side

    Introduction
    What is Alan Wake? Alan Wake is a writer. A writer with a writer’s block no less. Alan Wake is also a game that, for lack of better definition, is a survival horror game. But it is not merely that. While the gameplay, which I’ll get into more later, may remind you of the Resident Evils and Silent Hills out there, Alan Wake brings something else to the table: story. And storytelling, too. Of course the concept of a story and creating a universe in a game is not new and has been developing rapidly since the introduction of 3D gaming, which allows for a more immersive style of gaming, Alan Wake tries to bring storytelling to a new level and for a new IP, does an impressive job at it.

    So, now to break it down into the usual categories.

    Gameplay:

    Daytime
    The theme in Alan Wake is light vs. darkness and the gameplay reflects this. First of all there are the day and night sessions of the game, which can be sort of forced into the categories storytelling and action sequences. Don’t get me wrong though, there is plenty of storytelling happening at night as well. During the day you’ll meet the characters that inhabit the town of Bright Falls, a town that, in good Stephen King tradition, contains a dark secret that will unravel throughout the story. In the daytime sequences you’ll reflect on the past events and sometimes events to come will foreshadow themselves during the day sequences already. The daytime sequences aren’t very long, which didn’t bother me though. They form a nice intermezzo from the actiondriven night sequences and right after the beginning of the night you’ll think back of the safety you felt during the day…

    Nighttime

    Navigation
    But everyday, the sun sets, and night comes. These parts of the game revolve around making your way through the different locales. In the beginning most of it will taken place around the forests of Bright Falls that litter the different mountain sides. There is some mild exploration to be done, where you can find the various collectables in the game. Coffee Thermoses, a reference to Twin Peaks, radio shows, tv shows, manuscript pages, they’re all there for you to find. The shows and pages also add to the story and background. There are even can pyramids to knock over. Although you may not notice that much in the beginning, it soon becomes evident that the game is linear (which does make room for great set pieces and scripted events in all honesty) and exploration is limited to finding collectables and extra fire power.

    Combat
    Speaking of fire power, the combat isn’t as straight forward as in most third person horror games. The Dark Presence in Bright Falls, which is your nemesis, has the nasty habit of taking over the inhabitants of the city. In the process, the Dark Presence provides the lost souls with a shadowy shield, that can only be fought off with light. In your hand you’ll have a flashlight most of the time and keeping it on the enemies will take away their shield, as shown by a halo that gets smaller. After their shield is gone you can use more straightforward methods of disposing of the Taken, in other words, shoot them. The game features a revolver, two different shotguns and a hunting rifle in the fire arms department. All feel and handle uniquely which is good and another upside is that the firearms are limited and will not make you feel too overpowered.
    Holding down LT will boost the flashlight, which will take away the shield faster at the expense of battery life. Next to that, it will stun enemies momentarily which is a great help if you’re getting overwhelmed. If you can’t fend off your foes with your flashlight, igniting a flare with the right bumper will scare them away. You can either hold it in your hand by pressing RB down, or drop it on the ground and try to make a run for it. Flashbangs are in the game as well, which provide a nice blast to melt your foes and will take down most Taken in an instant. The flaregun does more or less the same, with the added advantage that you can launch it over a distance. Another vital aspect of combat are the surroundings. You can find gascontainers you can blow up, electrical wiring that will electrocute the Taken (and you, if you’re not careful) and various light sources that can offer either protective or offensive opportunities. And don’t forget, sometimes it’s best to run for a safe haven (a lightpost) than to fight. This will safe both your life and ammo (which isn’t always that scarce).
    Another piece of mind from my personal experience: don’t be afraid to use your heavier arsenal, I’ve had many occasions where I was left with a full shotgun at the end of the chapter, only to find it taken from me by the time I got to the next. Oh and before I forget, there are also some not so impressive driving sequences. They’re not bad, but they don’t really add much to the game.

    Graphics
    In a game that revolves around darkness and light, you better pack some good lighting effects. Alan Wake comes through here and offers some of the best lighting I’ve seen in video gaming to date. Surely they’re not the first to have it in a game, but they almost perfected it and it adds enormously to the immersiveness to the game. Light really is your friend. The other visuals and locales are believable as well and nothing really deteriorates from the experience.

    Ready for the next section? No wait! Here comes the biggest flaw of the game. For a game that wants to suck you into a story, bring storytelling to a new level, the lip synching in the game is horrible. Yes I said it, it’s bad. You can try to see past it but either way it does detract from the experience. On the upside, the other day I read (can’t remember where) that Remedy is working on a patch to fix these issues. Although I doubt they’ll be able to nail it entirely, every bit is welcome here.

    Sound
    The sound in this game does exactly what it should do. It helps build the atmosphere with dramatic music, sounds of people walking through bushes and what not. The sounds are not outstanding in itself, but it complements the game perfectly to build the atmosphere that makes this game so enjoyable.

    Achievements
    The game has a variety of achievements. There’s a bunch of achievements for advancing the story, using equipment a number of times, completing the game on the different difficulties (note: Nightmare mode is locked till you completed the game once) , the various collectibles (for which you’ll need a guide, you’re bound to miss some, or half, in my case, oh and you can’t complete the pages till you unlocked Nightmare mode, a set of pages is only found on the highest difficulty) and to finish it off there are a couple of achievements for ‘challenges’, i.e. beating levels in a set amount of time or without getting hit or firing.

    As an indication, a single playthrough on Hard netted me 31 out of 50 achievements and 510/1000 GS.

    Value (amount of gameplay, replayability)
    I dreaded this section, cause I don’t want to leave on a bad note. But yeh, Alan Wake is not that long. Which on one hand is a good thing, because the story benefits of being compact in stead of dragged out and the pace can stay relatively high throughout the game. It’s a rollercoaster ride full of twists and fun combat, which I found very enjoyable to the very end. That said, I beat the game in around 12 to 13 hours on my first playthrough. And I took my time, so it could be even less. It is not that short and definitely ok for the genre, but perhaps some were hoping for more. Whether or not you want to play it again, is a matter of personal preference. I as an achievement lover will definitely see if I can 1000 the game and I also love beating games on the highest difficulty so that justifies at least a second playthrough. Also, meeting some of the characters for the first time again is fun, because now you know what role they’re going to play. One thing that decreases replayability, is the fact that the charm of Alan Wake is that you’re a passenger throughout the story. You don’t know what’s going on the majority of the game and you’re even less sure what’s going to happen next. Knowing how it’s all going to end lessens the experience, and if you’re not in there for the achievements or beating it at the highest difficulty, you might find it hard to motivate yourself again. At the end of this section I want to add that DLC is coming our way, with the first to be released in July and it will be free for those that bought the game. I don’t know about further DLC and possible pricing, I hope there will be a lot of it, though it is to be expected that only the first episode will be free of charge.

    Update: The Signal came out on July 27th 2010 and is free of charge if you bought an original copy of Alan Wake, or 560 MS points if you did not.

    The Writer is the second piece of DLC and it is not yet known when it will be out, however it is confirmed that it will cost a sum of 560 MS points.

    DLC:

    DLC 1, The Signal (released on July 27th, 2010)

    The Signal serves as the epilogue of Alan Wake Season 1. We continue right where we left off, that is, with Alan captive in the cabin. Quite like Remedy announced, The Signal plays as a nightmare experienced by Alan. Obviously I will not delve any further into the story aspects of the DLC, those are to be unveiled by yourself.

    Gameplay wise not much has changed since the original six episodes of Alan Wake. There is still a variety of Taken enemies and poltergeist objects. The Safe Havens, switch-puzzles and collectibles also make a return. New is the concept of uncovering details by shining your light on them, as was introduced in the final episode of the original game. Although it doesn't add much to the equation, it did feel fresh and it fits in with the Alan Wake world.

    Now for the achievements, the DLC consists of 8 achievements worth 250 gamerscore. They are reminiscent of the original achievements as there are story progress achievements, collectible achievements and challenge achievements that require you to make the game just a little harder on yourself. One thing that has surprised and slightly annoyed me is the fact that the episode is not broken up in segments, which means you can't return solely for the last fight to finish it as fast as possible. I'm not sure where the game returns you if you reload the last checkpoint after beating the game, that might make it possible to return to the final fight.

    All in all, the DLC takes you an hour and a half to two hours to go through start to finish. If you come back for the achievements there's even a little more replayability. Looking at the average DLC for most games (sometimes charging you several 100's of points for mere gear and such), you get good value for The Signal (especially since for most players it will be free if you have an original copy). I can only say Remedy did a nice job here, making it fit right in with the rest of the story and providing you with another good taste of Alan Wake. I can only hope the other DLC will bring the same quality.

    Conclusion
    Alan Wake is a very enjoyable game. It is not as revolutionary as some may have thought, but it nails the atmosphere perfectly. It drags you into it’s universe and will stay one step ahead of you till the conclusion of the game. The flaws in the game do not take away enough of the overall experience to justify not getting this game. So for everyone reading this and who hasn’t gotten the game yet, go get it, close your blinds and kill the light and see if you can survive Bright Falls.

    Thanks for reading and leave your feedback in the comments.
    5.0
  • Dog of ThunderDog of Thunder220,909
    27 Jul 2010
    53 1 7
    Alan Wake is a very tough game to review. The major draw for this game is the storyline, which stands head and shoulders above most other 360 games. The influences of Stephen King and David Lynch are felt all throughout the game, in particular, the closing music of Episode 1 which is straight out of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, starring the late, great Dennis Hopper. Ultimately, as with the work of David Lynch, everyone will walk away with a different experience from Alan Wake.

    Gameplay

    The theme of light and dark is taken quite literally when it comes time to actually play the game. Using a flashlight, you have to remove protective layers of darkness before opening fire with a trusty sidearm. I for one, never got bored of this, not once environmental hazards such as loose power lines and red exploding barrels were introduced. The cast of enemies is very, very small and the constant need to shine light first, shoot second could get old for some people very, very quickly.

    When you are not shining light on the denizens of darkness you are engaging in some very light puzzle solving. This is basic "hit a switch" puzzling and only serves to break up the gunplay. Vehicle sections also break up the action but they work nicely into the plot and when they do pop up, are a welcome diversion.

    A major problem with the puzzle solving, running and gunning gameplay however is that at all times you are reminded Alan Wake is a video game. The ever present HUD always shows you where to go and as a result, the tension level is not as high as it could be had the game been HUDless. The option to turn it off does not exist.

    Graphics

    It is painfully obvious that the majority of the graphical horsepower went to the lighting effects. The lighting is amazing, easily the best I have ever seen. The character models on the other hand would not be out of place in a PS2 game. Do yourself a favor, and when characters are talking, try not to look at their mouths.

    They did manage to make Alan's wife appear to be wearing painted on jeans, so that is a plus.

    Controls

    Clunky is a nice way to put it. The game demands tight control while playing on Nightmare difficulty but it will fight you. Alan turns slowly and the aiming can be very awkward, both with your flashlight and a gun. Alan is not a space marine, he is a writer, but moving *that* slow is just annoying.

    Sound and Music

    Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick is the soundtrack for this game amazing. Every chapter ends just as television episode would, with a closing song that accurately captures the mood. The song choice at the end of Chapter 1 is what hooked me, but it was one sequence during Chapter 4 that had the best dichotomy of music to in game action that I have witnessed in years. In fact, that moment gets its very own call out.

    The Moment

    Every game, no matter what genre or platform, has The Moment. That One Thing which happens and makes you sit up and go "DAMN!" Final Fantasy 7, with the murder of Aeris, is perhaps the easiest example to recognize. Alan Wake, towards the end of Chapter 4 as you're approaching an old, decrepit stage in the middle of a field....it has one of those moments. Gameplay and music meld and make you feel like you are an unstoppable force of destruction.

    Achievements

    Some of the collectibles in this game, such as the manuscript pages, tv shows and radio shows reveal bits about the world of Alan Wake and are worth your time to collect. TV shows, especially those that are showing "Night Springs", think The Twilight Zone, are really cool. A guide is recommended if you want all the achievements, and a second play through is mandatory, but if you skip the story completely it is a quick game.

    Conclusion

    Gameplay is fun and different but not for everyone as it can get old quick if the plot does not grab you around the neck like Andre the Giant. Music is amazing and an example of the right way to work it into a game. The abundance of collectibles can be daunting for achievement seekers but the real issue comes from the horrible character models and clunky controls.

    The very best part of the game can not be mentioned, as that is the plot. If you are looking for something different, Alan Wake is an unique experience. It may just last you a weekend, but like a good book, you will go cover to cover.
    4.0
  • SashamorningSashamorning1,708,203
    20 Nov 2010 04 Sep 2018
    39 8 5
    After several years in development, the survival horror Alan Wake finally made it's debut on the 360 to much fanfare, and with good reason. The game features the titular writer trapped in a horrific Silent Hill-esque small town search for his wife. While Alan Wake has a lot in common with the second game in that acclaimed series, notably as a man facing nightmarish creatures in a small town, the game stand on its own with its innovative attack system and episodic storyline.

    Atmosphere is the name of the game. Soon after arriving in Bright Falls, his wife vanishes seemingly without a trace. Strange happenings are afoot, and whenever day turns to night, the nightmares begin. Strange demonic creatures begin to stalk Alan through the woods, protected by a strange darkness that surrounds them. Alan must use both his trusty flashlight (don't forget the batteries!) as well as another weapon in order to protect himself from the seemingly endless horde of dark creatures.

    In contrast to the darkness, Alan is protected by light. Literally. Spotlights will refill his health, and help guide him through the darkness. In addition to his flashlight, Alan can also use flare guns, flares and flashbang grenades to defeat the evil darkness. (Why, exactly, there are more flashbangs in the Northwest forest than there are in the CoD Middle East is beyond me.)

    The story is broken into 6 episodes with the feel of a television drama. Each episode begins with a recap of the previous one, and sets the stage for the next one. In keeping with this feel, the game abounds with Twin Peaks references, to its Pacific Northwest setting to its (100!!) coffee thermos collectibles to it's loopy FBI agent Nightingale showing up to harass the protagonist. The game also endearingly kitschy, with the small town gearing up for the annual Deer Fest which helps to provide some relief from the nightmare that is haunting Alan. It's a story that would make X-Files agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully proud.

    The achievements for the game are quite varied. Beyond the standard mission-related cheeves, there are some that require the player to play in certain ways. Making a speed run through a difficult stretch is one of them. Forcing a player to not fire a single weapon while surrounded by enemies during the final run to the end of the game heightens the fear present in the game, providing a real sense of urgency to the game, and is one of my favorite achievements in any game.

    The one drawback to the game, and it's a heavy one for gamerscore aficionados, is the overwhelming number of collectibles in the game. The aforementioned 100 coffee thermoses are accompanied by 91 manuscript pages (plus an additional 15 in the Nightmare difficulty), various radios and televisions which must be found separately, and a scavenger hunt for all of the signs in town. Oh yeah, and there are tin cans stacked in pyramids that you need to shoot. These are pretty much impossible to complete without a guide, and can seriously detract from the mood of the game.

    Those aside, though, the game has few flaws. It's a great combination of storytelling, atmosphere and action. Even though the campaign is a bit short and offers little replayability, I would still highly recommend it.
    4.5
  • PuertoricariousPuertoricarious108,877
    28 May 2010
    36 6 3
    After multiple attempts to start this review, I found that the most fitting way to begin a review of Alan Wake would be as the game itself begins, with a quote by Stephen King that explains the heart of what makes Alan Wake so great:

    “Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations…..they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.”

    If you’re at all a fan of horror, or even the very idea of mystery, this quote should ring true. How many times have we been drawn to a villainous character in a movie, only to be a little less enthralled when their mask is removed and their circumstances explained? Is a group of mysterious disappearances in a town really that interesting once you find out that it’s the work of a jealous boyfriend? There’s something to be said for the unexplained, an allure that exists when causes are shrouded in darkness, and that disappears once rational explanation brings a story back to the realm of the everyday. Thankfully for us, when Sam Lake and the folks at Remedy set out to write the story of Alan Wake, they took Stephen King’s advice.

    That’s not to say, though, that Alan Wake is the game that Stephen King would write. Alan Wake admittedly draws more from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, as well as the Lost TV series. The influence of Twin Peaks is mostly seen in the setting of Bright Falls, a small logging community in the anonymous Northwestern U.S. where the game’s titular hero is on vacation. Alan has traveled to Bright Falls with his wife, Alice, looking for a respite from his writing career, and to escape a writer’s block that has been plaguing him for some time. Things go awry when Alan’s wife disappears, and as Alan frantically searches for her, he realizes that a story that he wrote—that he doesn’t remember writing—is coming true. Alan will have to search Bright Falls and its surrounding forests and mountains for his wife, and it’s the depiction of this fictional town that helps bring the story to life. Even as a fictional town, Remedy absolutely nailed the depiction of Bright Falls. Views from mountain tops and over cliffs are breathtaking; the town is presented with tremendous detail and character; and the town’s residents are at once quirky, interesting, and believable. The Twin Peaks influence is most evident here, with locations and characters serving as direct allusions to the TV series, from the imposing lodge that overlooks the town (the Great Northern vs. Cauldron Lake Lodge), to the squeaky-voiced receptionist in the police station, to the town’s eccentric social pariah (Log Lady vs. The Lady of the Light). Your time spent in Bright Falls won’t indulge you with sandbox-style exploration, and yet the settings are so detailed and expansive in their own respect that you can’t shake the feeling that you could spend countless hours exploring the rest of the town if you wanted. Like any good writer, Remedy has perfected the illusion.

    If Twin Peaks is the inspiration for the setting and characters of the game, then Lost serves as the inspiration for its storytelling. Alan Wake is structured like a TV series, with the game unfolding over 6 episodes with brief musical intermissions between. Each episode ends on a cliffhanger, and much like a television drama, each new episode begins with a “Previously on Alan Wake…” vignette. It’s a structure that Alone in the Dark explored previously, and one that I found profoundly interesting as applied to a video game. Much like Lost, Alan Wake focuses on twists and turns at every moment at the story, and the episodic structure will only suck you in further. As anyone who has ever gotten into a good television drama will know, it’s nearly impossible to restrict yourself to just one episode, and Alan Wake is no exception. Much like Lost, the story of Alan Wake pulls you along, skirting the realm of logic, and just when you think a question is going to be answered, the plot crescendos and you’re suddenly given more questions with no answers in sight. It’s a maddening spiral that is both frustrating but is also the game’s raison d’etre, a natural drive of curiosity that Remedy exploits all too well. You may not be satisfied when the game ends……but you will be hopelessly hooked.

    I only have one criticism as far as the storytelling goes, and it stems from having seen the Bright Falls episodes prior to the playing the game. For those who haven’t seen them, the Bright Falls series consists of 6 short episodes that chronicle Jake Fischer’s visit to the town of Bright Falls, just shortly before Alan Wake arrives. This series was nothing short of stellar. The mad, Lynchian world of Bright Falls was captivating, and, importantly, weird. The characters were eccentric and ever so slightly off (or pretty damned far off, in some cases) and Fischer’s navigation of the town was a horror movie where the essence of the horror stemmed from a pervasive insanity, rather than your tried and true horror clichés. My disappointment with Alan Wake story, then, comes from the fact that the game moved far away from this. Alan Wake as a game came to depend on darkness and axe murderers for its horror, and admittedly I wish that it had focused more on the madness that characterized the Bright Falls episodes.

    And yet, for all of its excellent storytelling and suspense, Alan Wake is technically a videogame, and as such must be held accountable for its gameplay as well. While the gameplay doesn’t quite rise to the level of the cinematics and writing, playing Alan Wake is nonetheless a fun and immersive experience. The game is generally divided into two types. One, which I’ll call cinematic gameplay, mostly centers around interactions with characters in an RPG-like fashion. You’ll need to grab objects, talk to people, and head to certain places to advance the story. The gameplay here isn’t particularly enthralling or imaginative, but because the centerpieces of these moments are the conversations and setting, you won’t really notice.

    The other “type” of gameplay present in Alan Wake is composed of third-person shooter sequences with light puzzle solving. While Alan Wake isn’t presented as a shooter—and it’s not—the gunplay mechanics are quite satisfying, owing much to the function of light within the game. The enemies that Alan will encounter are called Taken, and are controlled by a power of darkness. The only way to make them vulnerable to gunfire is to use light sources, ranging from flashlights to flares to flashbangs, to weaken or eliminate them. In general, you will need to eliminate the darkness from enemies before you can damage them, and this is represented as a translucent circle over the enemy that shrinks as their darkness withers away. Because you’ll often be accosted by multiple enemies running at you with axes and the like, you’ll have to make use of quick maneuvering while also managing how you weaken enemies and finish them off with your guns (which range from revolvers. This is further aided by a dodge mechanic that’s as simple as running away from an enemy just as they’re about to strike. These dodges are highlighted by a brief, flashy cinematic, and is crucial to managing the multiple enemies around you. The end result is that fights are tense and fast-paced skirmishes where multiple enemies are breathing down your neck with an axe, and you have to figure out how to dodge their attacks while weakening them with light and then finishing them off with firearms. It’s simple, and while it may not have all the gunplay flare of a Gears of War or Call of Duty, you’ll find yourself both dreading and enjoying the encounters. Otherwise, some light puzzle solving pocks the gameplay of Alan Wake, but admittedly most of it is unimaginative, often consisting of “press this button to lower this ramp.” The puzzles of Alan Wake are probably the weakest element of the game. Thankfully, they’re pretty marginal to the gameplay, so they won’t mar the experience too much.



    Because so much of the game centers on the light/dark dynamic, Remedy has taken pains to develop a lighting physics system that will make sure that even a flashlight will look stunning. They succeeded: the lighting physics in Alan Wake are the best ever seen on any console. That’s right, I said it. The Uncharted 2’s and Gears of War’s are the graphical juggernauts of current gen consoles, but in terms of lighting, they just don’t compare to Alan Wake. The look of a flashbang, the fiery burn of a flare, and even the focused beam of a flashlight all look spectacular. Dusk and evening lighting are impressive, and provide the perfect backdrop to the expansive landscapes of Bright Falls. The effects of darkness are excellent as well, with swirling textures with just the right amount of blurring used during night scenes. Elsewhere, Alan Wake is a gorgeous game, though it does have a few dull spots in its shine. For such a good looking production, the animation and facial expressions of the characters is surprisingly inept. Lip-synching is often uncoordinated, and the bodies and faces of characters moved as if controlled by a puppeteer. Because a large part of the game is spent in cut scenes where characters interact, these problems then become pervasive throughout the game. It’s puzzling as to why this element of the game is so unrefined when compared to the overall presentation. If it were a matter of resources, one can’t help but think that a small sacrifice elsewhere—say, to the overwhelming detail and beauty of Bright Falls—would have gone a long way in visually fleshing out the characters.



    On a personal level, Alan Wake challenges my preconceptions of what video games should be. I’ve always to an extent resisted the trend toward cinematics in current generation games. I’ve long been a proponent of the idea that gameplay should take precedent over graphics, over story, over anything, because to me, what ultimately separates a good game from a good movie or book is that it is fun to play. And yet, I can’t deny that it’s the story that drives Alan Wake, and while the gameplay is fun enough, it’s not quite the soul of game. Because Remedy has made clear that Alan Wake will be a continuing saga, I would like to see some of the gameplay elements be pushed into the forefront, particularly the puzzle elements. Fans of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill games know that survival-horror games (and Alan Wake certainly owes its influences to this pedigree) are a fervent ground for interesting puzzles, and Alan Wake is no exception. That being said, I’m quite looking forward to the already announced DLC, as well as the inevitable sequel. Remedy has done a fantastic job of creating a world and a mystery that rivals the best stories that any medium—be it video game, television series, or book—are offering today, and with the episodic structure of Alan Wake, they’ve nailed a new storytelling format for video games that could revolutionize how we play our games in the future.
    4.0
  • N0T PENNYS B0ATN0T PENNYS B0AT447,678
    02 Aug 2011 13 May 2013
    32 3 3
    "Stephen King once wrote, ‘Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear'"

    The opening credits to Remedy Entertainment's 2010 psychological action thriller features their protagonist and the titular character, Alan Wake, quoting the prolific writer Stephen King. Throughout the 10 hours this game will take you to finish, you'll experience this poetry of fear firsthand. There is a lot to be said about this game. It has a long history with gamers because of its almost Duke Nukem Forever-esque development period. I'll spare you the details about how it was delayed half a decade and how the gameplay did a complete 180 from what it was originally billed as. What I will tell you instead is exactly what this game is now, in all its unique glory.

    Story: The game starts slowly. After a tutorial that's played out in a dream of Alan's, we are introduced to some character and plot development. We meet Alan, the hotheaded but loving husband and once a best-selling author who has lately been dragging his feet through writer's block. Then we meet his wife Alice, a beautiful, compassionate young blonde whose seemingly singular flaw is a paralyzing fear of the dark. Alan's loudmouthed agent, Barry Wheeler provides a comic relief sidekick in some parts to lighten the otherwise gloomy, foggy atmosphere. A wide range of Twin Peaks-ish secondary characters makes for an interesting cast. Each character becomes very real. i won't spoil any of the story beyond the initial premise because knowing nothing about it will, I think, provide the most enjoyment for the player.

    Alan and his wife are vacationing in Bright Falls, the fictitious town in Washington state. Alan is hoping to forget about his troubled career while Alice is hoping the fresh air will clear his head and get his pen back to paper. From there, the game takes a decidedly supernatural turn where each of its episodic chapters adds layers to the suspense and mystery. Overall the story is as good or better than anything you will find on television. Clearly influenced by TV milestones like The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, and LOST, it employs many of the same plot devices these excellent shows did and the story overall is Alan Wake's greatest attribute.

    Gameplay: The game plays similar to Silent Hill, though it's less horror and more suspense/eerieness. Luckily, the controls aren't as stiff either. The control scheme is well-developed and anybody who has played a third-person game (basically everyone) can pick it up by the end of the tutorial. One thing the game is lacking is more enemy variety. Most of the enemies you dispatch with your flashlight/firearm combo are murky, gloomy, ghostlike citizens of the town. They're dressed like loggers or other blue-collar men and their appearances are greatly recycled. Besides those, there are some poltergeist objects such as cars or barrels; anything in the world really can become a poltergeist. And the third variety is birds. They swoop in on you like a dark cloud of feathery pain. Those can be defeated using any of your light weapons, i.e. flashlight, flare, or flare gun. If there were more varieties, I think there would be virtually nothing to complain about with this game.

    However, I do wish the story took longer to finish. The main story will run you about 10 hours through the first playthrough. After that, you unlock Nightmare difficulty and this is where the game really shines. Anyone who has finished the game already, I strongly recommend you replay it on this difficulty. It really puts the 'survival' in survival horror. There are also two DLC episodes available on the XBL marketplace that will add about another two and a half hours to the story and gameplay. These are basically essential for anyone wishing to understand the whole story before (the inevitable...?) Alan Wake 2 comes out.

    Sound: If story is this game's greatest asset, music and voice acting are runner-up. The musical score for this game is on par with the best of the best, not just in gaming but in any media form out there. I bought it on my iTunes because the tracks are so well done and it adds so much to the gameplay. From the opening credits to the end-of-episode licensed songs like David Bowie's "Space Oddity", the music was clearly carefully selected for this game and it really adds to the atmosphere.

    The voice actors were also great. The closest comparison would be PS3's Uncharted Series. The actors chosen represent their characters perfectly and that is because almost all of them, with the exception of Alan, have the same actor voicing the character and modeling for the character. Alan's narration will be a delight to Max Payne fans out there too.

    Graphics: In almost every way, the graphics are just what you'd expect from a current-gen AAA title. The dark forests look great and the houses alternate between foreboding and folksy, depending on the context.

    But the lip-synching in this game is one of its most glaring flaws. Several scenes display this, some more than others. At first it's a bit distracting too. But besides that, the graphics are great which is important in a game like Alan Wake. Most of the game takes place at nighttime and Remedy really needed to nail the lighting effects to make this game work, and they really did a good job with that.

    Replay Value: I've played this game, from start to finish, seven times. Yes, seven. But do I think it will have the same effect on most people? Not at all. I admit the game is unflinchingly linear, with no customization or leveling options whatsoever, a small sampling of weapons choices, and most of your time will be spent running through the woods with a flashlight toward the next cutscene. it also isn't as scary as a Dead Space or a Condemned. But it isn't supposed to be that type of game. It's also relatively on the short side, sadly. But if you allow yourself to become engrossed with the story, like I did, multiple playthroughs are almost essential because the mystery has so many layers. It's like watching a season of LOST. When you watch it for a second, or third, or seventh time, you find more and more to take out of it, both in the question department as well as the answer department. It'd beneficial to jump on board this stellar title now so you don't have to play catch-up if/when a sequel ever releases.

    Let me stress the most important point here: Do not, ever, EVER, play this game during the day. Doing so will destroy the perfectly-crafted atmosphere Remedy has created for this game. It isn't that this game is as scary as Dead Space or another true horror title, but it's not meant to be either. Still, playing this game at night, maybe even with headphones on, will illicit the greatest experience for the player. there is just an intangible quality to the world of Bright Falls that I can only describe as flawless. You truly need to experience it firsthand, and in the way it is meant to be played.
    4.5
  • F1R3 PH03N1X6F1R3 PH03N1X6298,340
    04 Jan 2011 04 Jan 2011
    28 1 0
    This review includes a minor spoiler
    Let me start off by saying I absolutely love this game. The story kept me interested all the way through 'till the very end and you wont want to put it down. Including the first DLC free with the purchase of a new copy made it even better.

    Story
    spoilers
    Alan Wake had me captivated as soon as the game started. It felt like I was watching a movie. After receiving his cabin key from a mysterious women inside the town dinner, Alan and his wife drive down to the lake where the cabin is. When they get to the cabin its dark inside. Alice, Alan's wife wont go inside beause she is scarred of the dark, so Alan has to turn on the power. That is where the story takes off.

    From there on out its all about survival. Your weapons being a flashlight and a revolver. Other weapons include a shotgun, hunting rifle, flare gun, flares, and flash bangs. They actual fit into the story very well, with the exception of the flashbangs. But as Alan points out, I dont think flash bangs are usual electric company equiptment. Controls are very easy to master.

    The story is not that hard to follow as long as you watch the cutscenes. It will keep you interested and leave you wanting more. The game is divided up into episodes and checkpoints are frequent. To defeat the enemies you must "burn" the darkness off of them using your flashlight (supplied with batteries you find throughout the game.) Its only untill after you burn the darkness off them that you can kill them. There is never an absence of enemies for long, but dont worry, on lower difficultys ammo is plentifull. Overall, the story is amazing and (IMO) is one of the best in any game in a long time. It takes a while to complete even without collectibles.

    Visuals and Sound
    One word is needed to describe the visuals: Superb. Its all about lighting and mood. Its a very creepy environment as you spend 99% of the time at night in a forest, but it never gets boring. It really does give you a sense of loss of hope at times.

    The sound on the other hand, is about average. We have all heard the sound a shotgun makes a thousand times. What else is there to hear? Alan is the narrator. The enemies do talk sometimes though when they first appear. In cutscenes at parts the voice acting sucks, but thats only at a few parts. Other than that its perfect.

    Collectibles
    There are A LOT of collectibles in this game ranging from coffee thermoses to radio shows. Multiple play throughs are required. One good thing is that it keeps track of how many of each thing you have, but not which one so you could be searching for that last item you need. The hardest difficulty has a few of its own collectibles you need for an achievement but you must beat the game once to unlock it.

    Achievements
    Achievements arnt that hard, but a few will take some time. I got most in one playthrough. There were 50 achievements but with the DLC there are 67, adding 250 GS for each one. There are missable achievements that you would think are story based but are not. Samething applies to the second DLC, the Writer. Each DLC is 560 MSP.

    With a price tag now of only $29.99 new it is worth the pick up.
    Story - 5/5
    Sounds and Visuals - 4/5
    Gameplay - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    This is my first review. Please dont be afraid to tell me how I did and what I can approve on. Thanks.
    5.0
  • Drachen77Drachen77251,917
    30 Sep 2010 01 Oct 2010
    29 2 2
    Finnish game studio Remedy has reportedly been working on Alan Wake for the last six years, and my goodness, has it been worth the wait. Rarely does a video game combine all factors together to achieve near perfection, but the developers at Remedy have done just that.

    Alan Wake is so named for its titular character. Our hero Alan is a best-selling author in the same vein as a Stephen King or James Patterson. Alan is suffering from a bout of writer’s block, so he and his wife decide to go on a vacation to Bright Falls.

    The game is set in the picturesque northwestern U.S. town of Bright Falls; which will immediately remind TV buffs of "Twin Peaks", the town in a show of the same name. From the outset of the game, the player is immersed in the beauty of the town. From its peaceful main street to the majestic mountains, Bright Falls serves as much more than just a setting; it is a character all its own. The developers went to great lengths to give the town its unique personality such as the “Oh Deer Diner”. The town is also populated with quirky citizens that you are never quite sure are there to help or hinder.

    Everything is about character. The townsfolk, your friends, your family; they are all there to give the game depth that most games don’t care to worry about. You will run into plenty of interesting people on your journey as they teach you about the area and they help to push the story along.

    A strange dark force is becoming more powerful and Wake has lost a week and his wife, Alice, is missing. He woke up in a car wreck and must now unravel the mystery of how he ended up here. Known as “The Taken”, the people of the area are being controlled by the dark force. Is this all really happening? Is it a nightmare? How is he going to stop this? Alan Wakeis broken down into 6 episodes like in a TV show. This strategy is brilliant because it helps you keep up with what’s going on. Usually a complicated story in a game is hard to keep up with because there is so much else going on. However, breaking the story down into episodes allows the player to review what has occurred. As the story grows and becomes more involved, it could become convoluted but it doesn’t. The story doesn’t treat players like idiots and develops without fear building up to the climax.

    While the game is story driven it doesn’t lack for amazing action. Light plays a central role in the adventure. The Taken are vulnerable to any type of light so Alan almost always has a flashlight with him. Shining the light on a Taken breaks its protective dark barrier down so it can be killed with a normal weapon. This creates a lot of pulse-pounding action when you get surrounded by numerous Taken. You have to first take away their defenses, and then kill them. Some weapons like flash bang grenades are powerful enough to do both. Your progression through levels is generally linear but the area to cover can be quite large allowing for many of the Taken to have opportunities to attack. They can show up at any time as well, literally right out of the dark so you must stay alert.

    The developers really deserve a ton of credit for the amount of attention they have paid to the details of the game. It is in the minutia that the dedication truly shines through. Scattered throughout the game are radios, signs, and TVs that give both information and hints into the story. On many TVs you will be able to watch an actual show called “Night Springs”, a mini version of “The Twilight Zone”. You may also see some radios that pick up the local night host talking about things going on in the area. It would be foolish to pass these over as silly diversions for many of these hold clues to the game.

    The top notch production can also be heard in the game’s soundtrack. Both the original music and licensed tracks form a perfect background for the dark and moody game. Popular rock artists like David Bowie, Poe, and Poets of the Fall lend tracks to the game. Poets of the Fall even serve as the surrogates for the fictional in-game band that plays a central role. Composer Petri Alanko’s gloomy melodies only add to the atmosphere as you feel the danger build around you. The sound editing rounds the game out nicely by adding those subtle touches that affect your senses. You can hear the wood crack under your feet on an old bridge, the wind blowing through the leaves, creaky old doors swaying open and shut; you get immersed in the environment. The voice acting is top notch giving the characters real personality and humility. Matthew Porretta does a particularly good job as the voice of Alan Wake himself.

    While most of the game is near perfect there are some spots when things break down a bit. For the most part the graphics are gorgeous, but when walking through the woods the details break down almost into a wire frame that can really be annoying. Also the facial expressions could be a lot better especially Alan’s. The way his mouth moves doesn’t always represent how a real person’s does. One more thing that can have a negative impact on your experience is item collecting. Throughout the game there are pages from Alan’s manuscript he is trying to write. There are also coffee thermoses to pick up. It seems kind of silly that if a person was searching for his wife and escaping possessed people that he would stop to pick up a thermos. It only acts to suspend the belief of the situation you are in. These are all simple nit-picky things that will affect only the most stubborn gamers.

    The main complaint many will have about the game is the length. It is not a particularly long game. Completionists will be able to get an extra few hours out of it but as a single player adventure only, it does seem to lack a ton of replay-ability. For people who are only interested in playing through the main story once will only want to rent it. Achievement hunters can be assured that all of the achievements are well within reach if a few extra hours are devoted to item collection and defeating the game on the hardest difficulty.

    For people looking to get a little more from the Alan Wake experience can also check out the 6 excellent short films titled “Bright Falls”. They are available in the 360’s video marketplace and run around 5 minutes each. The live-action shorts provide a very cool prequel story before the Wakes arrive in Bright Falls. As they are so short, they definitely warrant a watch.

    William Shakespeare once wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit”, which I believe sums up this game quite well. It has a story to tell and it tells it; effectively at that. Many may be turned off by the relative short duration of the game but I believe that the shorter length is what makes the story so moving. The length of the game has no bearing on the care and dedication shown by the developers. If looking for a fantastic story driven adventure, look no further than Alan Wake.
    5.0
  • G3N3R4L R41D3NG3N3R4L R41D3N125,520
    11 Aug 2010 24 Mar 2014
    25 3 0
    Story Alan Wake is a game that revolves entirely around the storyline and to develop a good game solely on storyline requires much more effort than creating a game with mulitplayer . Remedy was able to execute this with precision by creating a limited yet open environment with a story that serves fun and fright throughout the course of the game.
    Graphics Alan Wake displays high quality graphics throughout. I was personally impressed with how the dark environments were made extremely visible while maintaining the dark presence to it unlike other games which would be made dark enough to an extent where certain areas are not visible at all. Character models were not the most detailed I have seen, but were still remarkable nonetheless.
    Gameplay Alan Wake possesses two portions to it. A night portion and a day portion. The night portion is where the thrill is found as you combat hordes of taken and is initially the setting in which you complete most of your main objectives. The day portion is more of a rest zone allowing the player to rejoice at making it through the night portion as well as a way of exploring the environment more thoroughly seeing as at times the player will not have time to explore the vast environment during night due to the constant ambushes by the taken.
    Achievements Alan Wake does have some time consuming achievements if you do not wish to use a guide for them (Hypercaffeinated, Every Nook and Cranny), but for the most part the achievements are straightforward and easily attainable in thirty hours or less. Nightmare difficulty is also a very simple task to complete as long as you're smart about using your items/weapons and pay attention to your surroundings.
    Conclusion Alan Wake is a superb game that presents an interactive storyline and environment that coordinates together to create a game that evolves the horror genre. Although the game is not excessively long, it maintains a dark environment with action around every corner. This game should only be purchased if you enjoy replaying games with a deep storyline due to this game being solely a single player campaign experience.
    5.0
  • 21 0 0
    I have been wanting to review this game since it first came out but I thought I should play the game thoroughly before I did. And so after playing the game a lot I present my review with as little spoilers as possible.

    Alan Wake is a famous writer who has had a writers block for 3 years and is the main character in the game. Alan and his wife Alice Wake decide to go on vacation to a small town called Bright Falls. There are many things about this town that make it unique and the story is deep from the first 10 minutes of play.

    Gamplay

    There are 3 parts to this which i am going to talk about and each will be rated.

    Day Scenes
    The day scenes in Alan Wake are mainly NPC interaction and do not have as much to do in ways of playing as the night-time scenes. The main things you can do in the daytime scenes are designed well and you can find out a lot of facts and information from them.

    Score 3/5

    Night-time scenes
    The night-time scenes are where the story is told in bulks. Most of the gameplay happens at this time and it varies more than the daytime scenes. There are no NPC's to interact with and instead these are swapped with the main enemies The Taken. There is a lot to explore in the night-time scenes, and even though there is a set route to follow you can explore the depths of the levels.

    Score 5/5

    Navigation and Combat
    Navigation in the game is very simple as the game is very linear. You get a compass up in the left hand corner of the screen and all the objectives are displayed next to it. There is a star which is shown in the compass if you have an objective and you follow the path in that direction.
    Combat is very unique to this game as you cannot harm the enemies without burning away the darkness from them first. This is done with your torch. After you have burnt away the darkness you can then attack them normally. There are multiple weapons on the game and some have limited ammo to make you use them sparingly. There is a Pistol which is the default weapon. There are also Shotguns, Hunting Rifles, Flash Grenades, Flare Guns and flares. There is limited ammo but depending on the difficulty you are playing on the harder it gets to preserve your ammo.

    Score: 4/5

    Storyline
    This game was designed with having a good and deep story in mind. The amount of detail that Remedy have put into this is really good and they deserve praise for this. The main bulk of story is told through manuscript pages that are scattered throughout the nigh-time levels. The story on the pages are either played before the page is found or after which can lead to some really big and memorable moment in the game.

    Score:5/5

    Graphics

    The graphics in this game are amazing even though it is mostly played in the dark. The details of objects are well designed and overall the graphics make the game deep and entertaining.

    The only flaw I saw with the graphics is the lip sync. Sometimes when the characters are speaking the lip sync is poor but overall this did not put me off the game.

    Score: 4.5/5

    Sound
    The sound on this game is amazing. The sounds match what is in the area and the detail is pretty good. The Music was designed specifically for the game and it works really well to give you a natural thriller feeling. There were some sound that were in some of the preview videos revealed by Remedy that I really liked that were removed from the game but overall this didn't matter.

    Score: 5/5

    Value
    The game has a lot of replay value as you have to play the game on multiple difficulties to fully experience the storyline. Remedy have cleverly designed the game so that some of the manuscript pages only appear on the hardest difficulty. This is a good design as you will either have to start the game on the hardest difficulty to reveal the story in detail or play through the game multiple times. There are also a lot of collectibles in the game which will also add the the play time.
    Overall the game is not that long lasting about 9-12 hours but I didn't think that this was a problem as I thought that this time was good for the deep story.

    Score: 4/5

    Achievements
    There is a mixture of achievements here. Most of them are story based, some difficulty achievements, some collectible achievements and some random task achievements. Overall there is a good mixture of achievements and to net the full 1000G you will have to play the game a lot.

    Overall: 5/5

    Future DLC
    There has been 2 DLC parts that have been announced by Remedy and Microsoft. The first one called the Signal is sceduled to be released on the 27th of July 2010. These DLC's are to bridge together the first and second games if there is to be a sequel.

    Overall Opinion
    Overall this game is a fantastic game and is recommended to people that love deep stories. Even though there are some flaws with this game there are enough good things about the game that make it highly enjoyabal. Highly recommended game!

    Overall score: 4.5/5
    5.0
  • iksolokosiksolokos145,529
    28 May 2011
    18 1 0
    Alan Wake caught my eye a few months prior to its release while I was in a used game store and a preview just happened to be showing. The game looked interesting and dark and unlike anything I had seen. Yet, with Red Dead Redemption that same week, I had to hold off. A few months after its release, I got my hands on a copy of the game from a friend. I walked away with one of the best gaming experiences in my life.

    GAMEPLAY

    Alan Wake would be listed as an Adventure/Survival-Horror game with its dark, gloomy level design and the constant threat of a surprise attack from the Taken. You're greatest weapon is light; whether that be a work light, car headlights, flashlight, or lantern. While you do carry a gun, you must first "burn away" the darkness that has consumed the people of Bright Falls. The game has six linear levels you must complete, some taking place in the middle of the woods, others inside churches, warehouse, or derelict monuments. The game is dark, gritty, and chilling. It's best experienced in the dark, to get the full effect. Throughout the game you'll find yourself hoping and praying to see the sun come up, and when it does, you'll breathe a massive sigh of relief, even if it's only for a moment. You'll face numerous enemies in various settings, with each type requiring a set amount of damage before they fall, Flankers, for example, are easy to take down, requiring just 1-3 shots from a revolver. But the formidable lumberjacks, they not only require 4-6 shots from the Hunting Rifle, they also regenerate the darkness you burn off of them if not put under constant light. Checkpoints, in the form of street lamps or generator powered work lights are your best friend, because, despite what you may think, combat is not the focal point in the game. Ammunition is few and far between and sometimes the best thing to do is just run towards the light. The only real gripe I have about Alan Wake's gameplay is the massive amount of collectibles. Manuscript pages, coffee thermoses, ammo boxes, TV shows, radio shows, they're listed as collectibles, so completionists will have to go out of their way on many occasions to grab that extra flare or coffee thermos.

    GRAPHICS

    In game, when you have control, the game looks acceptable, not good, but not great, but not bad either. This all changes when cutscenes start. The graphics are absolutely stunning. Remedy spent a lot of time making the cutscenes look great. The environment looks great. It sets the perfect tone for the story Remedy is trying to tell. The darkness swirls around you just before another Taken attack. The wind picks up as the tension rises, you see lights flicker in the distance, almost ousting your hope for survival. Aside from the drastic difference in cutscene animation and in game animation and graphics, Wake looks great.

    SOUND

    There are quite a few licensed tracks in Alan Wake, and they all fit the scenario they are put in. In fact, quite a few are actually really great songs on their own. Aside from licensed music, Alan Wake features some of the best ambient sounds and tunes I've heard in a game. The music fits this game perfectly, when you see the darkness swirling about, the music gets more intense; it does a fantastic job of complementing the story, the setting, and the characters.

    REPLAY VALUE

    Moderately low. This game doesn't offer any choices; it's all planned out and linear from the very beginning. Completionists will play through again on "Nightmare" difficulty for their missing Manuscript pages that are only available on said difficulty, but for most, it'll be a one play through game. Although with the release of two DLC episodes, The Signal and The Writer, it adds about 3-4 hours of gameplay, and both extend the story well, too.

    FINAL DECISION

    This is a must play. This is an underrated game that would have been much more successful had Red Dead Redemption and Super Mario Galaxy 2 not released the same week. Alan Wake is a great story, a great experience, and, most importantly, a great game. Highly recommended.
    5.0
  • TheRickMoranisTheRickMoranis96,907
    04 Jul 2010 08 Jul 2010
    24 7 4
    Sitting across from Mr. Wake, with the full puzzle coming into focus and the final pieces placed, the gravity from our seventeen hour journey together keeps me to my chair, like I've been punched and punched and punched and punched and I cannot move. I breathe and instead of oxygen I imbibe the molecules of a twisted mystery. I speak and instead of words I utter what others could only describe as ravings that touch no reality. Consumed, swarmed, leashed. It won't let me move. It. It.

    But I have won; heavy and weighted as I am, I have still won. The black screen, both an unknown void and comfortable signal flare communicates the end. It is over.

    Or is it ...


    Sorry, the above prose isn't very good and maybe only barely reminiscent of something Remedy's author/protag would write. But Alan Wake has the uncanny power to permeate my brain. And if you play it, your brain might be permeated, too, in some pretty cerebral ways.

    Alan Wake is a very novel game (pun absolutely intended!) in that there is hardly anything like it out there. The closest comparisons would be Silent Hill 1 and 2 minus the grotesque horror, then add a dash of perfect location like BioShock's Rapture. Admittedly, not everything makes perfect sense, but nightmarish situations rarely do, and the nightmare we experience in this game keeps you wanting to find out what will happen next, even if it might be terrifying to see what's around the corner.

    I'm so relieved that Alan Wake is a great game after being in development for 5 more years after being announced. Developer Remedy took their time, knowing that they had to release a quality product, and it shows. Plus, if you ever want to get a feel for the Washington state landscape before actually going there, play Alan Wake and you'll be set. It's been a few years since a game has established an almost tangible milieu, an environment that seems like it isn't simply inspired by something but is an actual digital representation of a real locale, townsfolk attitude and all. If you're planning on traveling to America's great Northwest, you might actually find Bright Falls, Washington in the latest state brochure.

    Only if you go, bring a flare gun. Trust me.

    Actually, you probably shouldn't go to Bright Falls if it existed. Anyone with an iota of artistic talent is in a pickle, and the nightlife is a hilarious one-word oxymoron. Thankfully it's just a game, and man, what a game.

    Remedy has billed their latest work as a psychological action thriller. Each word in that description is dead-on. Alan Wake messes with emotions and reality. Alan Wake has you constantly defending your life. Alan Wake surrounds you with suspense and tension, plot twists and cliffhangers. Overall, Alan Wake is an experience you won't, and shouldn't, forget.

    THE STORY

    When you're releasing a game that centers around an author, everyone's eyes are on your story. Remedy obviously knew this, making the story engaging and very much like a page-turner (and in a brilliant sleight of hand, the act of writing a story is a part of the story!).

    Famed thriller writer Alan Wake is taking some time off across the country with his wife, Alice, by going to quaint, out-of-the-way Bright Falls. Alan has met with some public outcry due to some of his actions, plus he's experiencing some writer's block, so getting away with the woman he loves seems like the best chance to slow things down and take a break. Bright Falls is ideal: a town in the middle of nowhere, low population and opportunities to blend into the woods and relax.

    But being a celebrity is hard to cover up. Everybody on the planet knows who Alan Wake is, from the middle-aged radio DJ he meets on a ferry, to the young waitress at the local diner (who just happens to be his "biggest fan"). Thankfully, instead of meeting with those pushy, photo-rabid Paparazzi, the townsfolk Alan encounters understand his need for space, offering invitations for interviews or chatting it up only if he's interested.

    10 minutes and a creepy meeting with a creepy old woman later, Alan and Alice make it to their cabin serenely nestled in the middle of "a special place" called Cauldron Lake. But apparently a lake with a name that makes one think of witches, toil and trouble isn't as romantic as it sounds. Not long after the Wakes decide to settle in, some kind of hell breaks loose. Alice somehow falls into the lake and Alan loses a week of time, waking up not after diving into the dark waters to rescue his wife, but in his car ... that has wrecked ... in the middle of the woods. Now, Alan has to figure out what has happened to him since coming to Bright Falls, but more so, what has happened to his wife.

    You control Alan in his trek through the woods of Washington, trying to find the pieces of a puzzle scattered throughout park trails, mills, farms and the local clinic. As if aided by some otherworldly presence, Alan discovers pages from a manuscript that he has written but, of course, doesn't remember writing. Some of these pages explain the past while others forecast the future; and with Alan being a famous thriller writer, the future is sometimes scary.

    Through cutscenes and internal monologues, manuscript pages and your agent Barry's comic rants (one of the shining elements of the game), the twisted tale of Mr. Wake constantly appeals to human reactions to things out of our control. Instead of a super-soldier saving the world, we play as a vulnerable, errant person trying to protect his life and love the only ways he knows how. In the totally fake woods around the totally fake town, there is a sense of reality in Alan Wake, from the grandeur of human behavior right down to being dependent on a flare. We aren't given the freedom of moral choices like a Bethesda or Rockstar game, but the experience crafted by Remedy is as good as any suspense novel, a story that sucks you in and has you feel the same fear as the protagonist because you quite literally do.

    As I said earlier, nightmares don't always make sense after we wake from them, and that can be said about Alan Wake, both for the good and the bad. From a story standpoint, Alan Wake makes sense in the end, though to wrap your brain around that ever elusive "Why" might take some stretching. To understand every detail takes some digging, and really is better served for the online forum debates. I have my own beliefs about what happens in Bright Falls, and I believe there is deliberate room for interpretation. Take for example the very first line of the game, a quote from Stephen King:

    ... nightmares exist outside of logic, and there's little fun to be had in explanations - they are 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 it's what we'll remember in the end.

    Need I say more?

    Alan Wake has won the Best Storytelling of the Year award already in my heart for 2010. Remedy took the whole art form of writing seriously when they made their lead character an author and Alan Wake is a successful final draft of an engaging suspense thriller. It's dark. It's atmospheric. It's thematic. It's well developed. It's scary. It's unexpected. It's fun. And it's fun to play, too.

    GAMEPLAY

    To sum up, Alan Wake's mechanics are brilliantly simplistic and deceptive in a good way. Coinciding with the thematic elements of light and dark, light is your guardian angel, coming in the forms of flashlights, spotlights, flares, and lampposts, among a few others. Darkness is just frightful, and if you have a fear of it, well, this game ain't for you. You will almost always have a flashlight handy, and you need it because light will 1.) help you see (duh), 2.) illuminate secret messages and weapon caches, and most importantly, 3.) take down enemy shields before you can take them down at all.

    Enemies, called the Taken, range from possessed heavy machinery to possessed townsfolk. You see, there's this Dark Presence that can take control of anything, living or inanimate, and make it want to kill you. It swirls around your enemy like inky, ethereal Kevlar until light is focused on it long enough to make it disappear. Once these dark shields are gone, you're free to fire away with whatever you have at your disposal (Two weapons in particular are so powerful that they eliminate enemy shields and the foe itself; best to save those for when you really need 'em).

    Lampposts serve as places called Safe Havens and their names are completely true; they are 100% safe even if a Taken or a flock of killer birds is within arms length. Tension mounts when you leave one of these heaven Havens and the nighttime environment sways like a hurricane is approaching and the world around you seems to be literally breathing some evil exhalation, summoning the Taken to surround you. It's some pretty intense stuff your first time through. Remedy's treatment of the main enemy type is dang terrifying. The townsfolk gunning for you taunt you with normal everyday talk interlaced with demonic and irregular pitches that tear at your feelings of safety. Many times enemies will come at you from behind, adding an extra level of fear (and annoyance) when you find your best bet is to run as fast as you can to the nearest Safe Haven. Prepare to jump, be startled, and play with bated breath during most of your journey through the woods of Washington.

    Exploration is encouraged, however aggravating. One of the game's achievements is collecting 100 coffee thermoses scattered throughout Bright Falls. Why? Who knows (see Stephen King quote again). If you've ever played Assassin's Creed and gone after the flags achievement, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you are a nook-and-cranny explorer like I am, then you will find many a time where the level design appears tailor-made for a hidden goodie, but alas there's nothing there but probably some Taken waiting to emerge from thin air. But you should still explore because the environment is simply incredible. Bright Falls is a completely realized town.

    NEGATIVES

    Coffee thermoses - *sigh*

    The last level - There are a handful of unusually frustrating sections.

    Dodging makes you run less - The cinematic slow-mo effects that happen every so often when you dodge are awesome, but they don't always work. But the worst part is if you try to run away after you've dodged a couple of times ... you won't be running away long because you will be ...

    Dying - The act of dying isn't a negative, it's the fact that Alan can die at all (this is not a spoiler). Think about it ... you're in a world where things happen because they're written on pages that you've found, and Alan has written them. Do you ever read about him dying in these pages? Theoretically, if he's not dying in the written pages, can he die in between? I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense. Unfortunately it's a necessary paradox in this game (unless you want to take a Prince of Persia route) and it doesn't detract from the experience. Perhaps it falls under that inexplicable "Why" in your attempts at ...

    Understanding the story - "Wait a minute, fake Louis Tulley, you just said that you really aren't supposed to understand all of the story and there's even room for interpretation!" Verily, verily, I say to you ... well, yeah, I did say that. But hear me out ... some things are further explained in the Limited Collector's Edition, not the regular, so if anyone has questions they're dying to know, then they're out of luck if they bought the $60 version. I guess it's a privilege for the Collector's Edition buyers, but it does seem a tad unfair.

    IN CONCLUSION

    I want to recommend Alan Wake to everyone, but I know not everyone would like it. That's not to say that this is a niche game made for one type of people. But Remedy has completely catered to single-player gamers such as myself, and they should love the developed story and the action, which is dead-on fun and addictive, with a frightening world to run around (or away) in. They knew what game they wanted to create, and they pulled it off. It's hard for me to say that the game is a full package, what with the Limited Collector's Edition being the true full package, and DLC intended for the future, but the quality of the game speaks volumes and is enough to warrant a very high score. I loved Alan Wake and I hope so many more people do so that Remedy will decide to make a sequel because, me, I already have my flares packed to go back to Washington.

    FINAL GRADE - A
    5.0
  • DesolationPointDesolationPoint216,647
    08 Jul 2010
    17 2 1
    The following review of Alan Wake is free of spoilers, and was written after a single play through of the game on Hard difficulty.

    Alan Wake isn’t particularly used to the hard life. Sure, now that his once hugely successful writing career has been replaced by a prolonged case of writer’s block, he has a little room to complain. But – like most of us – the man can’t really comprehend the meaning of the word suffering.

    Well, I should clarify that he couldn’t before he began his vacation in Bright Falls, a serene little Washington town that’s just slightly stuck in the past. Here, Wake’s problems become something much bigger than even he – horror novelist that he is – could ever dream up.

    Talking about it like this, it’s easy to imagine Alan Wake as something more than just a videogame, an idea that really sticks with you. Alan Wake could just as easily make for an excellent TV show or horror novel, but merging these media with a videogame creates an entirely different experience.

    Graphically, Alan Wake is simultaneously stupendous and lackluster. Remedy did a fantastic job of capturing the Pacific Northwest’s stunning vistas and genuinely creepy overgrowth forests. As an Oregon native, I applaud their way of making me feel that I had actually traversed many of these areas in real life. You can also tell they paid attention to the little details – everything from the species of trees in the forest to the constellations in the night sky is accurate. In terms of environments, Alan Wake can’t be beat.

    Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the character models. A few, such as Alan and his agent Barry, are passable. Others, Alan’s wife Alice for example, are just downright ugly. This combined with terrible lip syncing makes cut scenes occasionally hard to watch, but you’ll soon learn that personality – with which each character is generously endowed – can more often than not trump good looks.

    Even still, we all know that a videogame needs more than just a good backdrop, and fortunately Alan Wake delivers in the gameplay department. Your flashlight will quickly become your best friend, and although every Taken requires the same two step process to take down, it really doesn’t get old. Wake has a pretty substantial arsenal at his disposal – even if he does have some trouble hanging on to it – and to really succeed in combat you’re going to need to use it all. Although you’ll do the majority of your fighting in the woods, you’ll also get the opportunity to take part in a number of truly spectacular battles in a few very interesting locales.

    Yet another thing Alan Wake has going for it is its nearly perfect pacing. Each episode is designed as a nice, bite-sized piece of the game, even if one or two do run a little on the long side for a single session. Luckily, regardless of episode length, you won’t have any reason to complain about any shortage of action or story progression. And of course, as it should be in any good horror novel, you’ll finish each chapter with a minor cliffhanger that really makes you want to keep playing.

    However – and this is where the nearly in ‘nearly perfect pacing’ comes in – Alan Wake’s presentation contains one rather strange design decision. Alongside that sense of urgency that keeps you always moving forward is a seriously huge list of collectables that includes everything from TV shows to can pyramids. Hunting down the radio shows, TV snippets, and the majority of the manuscript pages requires minimal effort and is also very rewarding, but the amount of exploration needed to find everything else just doesn’t make sense. Do you really think that Wake, who’s understandably a little frantic, would take the time to search every corner of the forest for a little coffee? No, I didn’t think so. Of course, exploring is optional, but if you’re looking to gain a little extra gamerscore, you’ll want to do it. Just take my advice and don’t force yourself to find everything on your first playthrough.

    Even though it has its hiccups, gorgeous environments, enjoyably stressful combat, and a straight-from-the-books horror story make Alan Wake a truly fantastic experience that no owner of an Xbox 360 should miss. Mr. Wake, I hate to extend your suffering, but you’ve been signed on for a second season.
    5.0
  • 19 4 0
    Alan Wake, from Remedy who made Max Payne, is a very highly anticipated game with dlc already on the way.....and it doesn't disappoint.

    Story: You play as author Alan Wake going on vacation with his wife to Bright falls.
    On his way to Bright falls Alan has a strange dream and doesn't know what it's about....for now. When you first enter your vacation cabin, things go upside down and that's when the real story starts. Alan is pitted against the, darkness consumed, dead when trying to find his missing wife Alice using pages from a manuscript you don't remember writing. The story is filled with twists and turns that will shock you and from right then and there you are staring into an 8-10 hour adventure. I really enjoyed this story it kept me going and there are great characters with great actors. The story is a little confusing but you can get most of it. The ending seems incomplete but the story is great and maybe the dlc will explain things.
    Story: 9/10


    graphics: The graphics for the games are great! The character models are good, and the environments are beautiful and scary. Very few character models don't look as top notch as others but it is not that big of a problem.
    9/10

    Gameplay: Alan Wake is a fun game with some flaws. First off, let me just say that this game reminds me of Luigi's Mansion in a way. You use his weakness against him and when he's vulnerable you go for the kill. When you are fighting an enemy you shine your flashlight at him until he is ridden of the darkness and then you shoot him. This game has a bunch of collectibles you can find in the dark forest, coffee thermoses, radios, treasure chests, and TV's. This game plays out like a TV show, you play through an episode and it ends with a cliff-hanger, which is a good idea. There are multiple weapons in this game but it's no big deal, you have the pistol, double barrel shotgun, pump action shotgun, hunting rifle, flare gun, flares, and flash grenades. There is a bad side to everything of course, in the game you constantly go over this scenario where you lose everything you have and you have to go hunt for a flashlight and guns which can be stressful for people trying to get the weapon achievements.
    As far as achievements go you can get the full 1000 in 2 playthroughs taking away 20 hours.
    8.5/10
    I really enjoyed Alan Wake and if this game interests you then get it, but if you don't plan to spend your money on the upcoming downloadable content for this game and you don't like second playthroughs then you should at least rent it because it is a fun adventure full of twists and turns.
    8.5/10
  • Silent DirgeSilent Dirge136,443
    03 Jan 2012
    11 1 0
    Alan Wake stands as one of my favorite games on the Xbox 360. It has possibly the best narrative in any game I've played. I won't spend this whole review gushing over the game because honestly who wants to read that? I'll just try to highlight the aspects that make Alan Wake the amazing game it is.

    First of all as I mentioned before Alan Wake has a strong and compelling narrative. In the game you play as Alan Wake, no surprise there, and the game is narrated by Alan himself. Since Alan is a writer Remedy made the narrative intelligent and rich as though it were a book and it works very well.

    Alan Wakes atmosphere is unique for a lack of better words in the fact that instead of being created like a traditional horror it provides a more suspenseful rather than frightening feel. The game feels as though you are watching it on TV, mostly because it is divided in episodic form but, also because the atmosphere and story is so immersing.

    As far as literal game-play goes Alan Wake is a typical third-person shooter but with the light versus darkness twist that ties in with the game's story. combat doesn't seem repetitive and though there is a scarce amount of weapon variety different enemies are plentiful. Alan Wake is also littered with various collectibles which can be merely picked up for achievements but if you take the time to read them (with the exception of coffee thermoses) they enhance Alan Wakes already rich story.

    Alan Wake is a great game for those who really love a game with a good story and solid game-play. another 5 out of 5.

    TheDarkPresence
    5.0
  • urmymeatshiledurmymeatshiled33,309
    13 Mar 2011 13 Mar 2011
    13 3 0
    Alright so recently i went to Gamestop for my birthday to get Dragon Age 2, but i wanted to get something else as well, I thought about Call Of Duty: World at War for a moment But then decide That "Hey i could get this any day and i wouldn't be getting any thing new to the table" so instead i went with Alan Wake and i got to say i am loving it.

    Concept

    Mix a video game with a book and parts of a movie...


    Story

    Alan Wake(If you Haven't Guessed by now That's You), a writer with a sever case of writer's block, decides to Vacation with his wife at a little old town called bright Falls, however, It is not so "Bright" in Bright Falls(Note to self never go to a town with the Word "Falls" at the end of it).


    Gameplay

    Here's where it gets tipsy you see the gun play, While still fun, Gets kinda annoying by the fact that you have to Flash them with light to break down there armor. The Reason this gets annoying is that when you got a few enemies coming at you from a few sides you can only focus at one at a time because you have to aim to over charge(You know i never new flash lights had that option) your light and so your focus remains on that enemy so you can't see another one coming behind you. You can use things like Flares, flare guns and Flash bangs to fend off multiple enemies but normally i try to save those for when the enemies really starts to crowed me.

    Driving

    It appears that people in Bright Falls leave there keys in there cars allot because in the areas in which i get to drive in, the vehicles always seam to have the keys in them. speaking of driving one of the worse things about it is the camera, even the slightest movement of the right analog stick sends it backwards.


    Music music

    Alan Wake is a Music lovers Dream Come True(Outside of Rock Band I guess i mean...I don't know i don't play it), because, they seem to have spent a large portion of money on songs. Seriously They had songs ranging from Coconut, to Space Oddity in addition to two awesome songs they had a band make. It also has a play back songs in the main menu where you can listen to the songs you have found in the game.


    Slow-mo

    When your about to dodge an Taken's swing or just shot a flare gun or threw flash bang into a large number of taken you are rewarded with an slow motion shot and unlike Fable 3, Alan Wake Keeps a balance of not to little of it, but also not to much of it.


    Final Thoughts

    Combat and Driving can Get annoying sometimes. It's not actually a "horror" game it's more along the line of suspense then horror, however, i highly recomend this game. Alan wake is a game that will keep you glued to your T.V. With it's atmosphere, characters and intriguing Plot line.
    4.0
  • Shuff264Shuff26420,156
    28 Oct 2010 01 Nov 2010
    12 2 2
    Alan Wake- The story of a man going through some bad sh*t. Alan Wake is a mixture of both horror and third person shooter. This shooter separates itself apart from the rest by adding the engine that forces you to shine light on your opponents before they can be killed. This gave the game a whole different challenge as random objects were thrown at you possessed by a malevolent force. As well as the game-play Alan Wake had on of the most enjoyable stories I have played in a long time with a lot of interesting characters and funny characters you meet along the way. The game uses foreshadowing to add tension and suspense without ruining the story.

    Game-play-4/5-Fun shooting with an extra added element to make it different but gets a bit repetitive as with any shooter.

    Story-5/5-One of the best stories i have ever played that keeps you enthralled throughout

    Graphics-4/5-The in game graphics are beautiful especially the night time scenes but is let down by some bad voice matching during cut scenes

    Audio-4/5- The game provides good audio, the night time effects really add a spooky and scary element to it.

    Overall- 17/20- Defiantly a must buy just for the story alone! The game-play is also very fun and the game runs beautifully, this is a must buy for anybody who enjoys a good story and a good horror story!
    5.0
  • 15 5 1
    Remedy (the developers of Max Payne and Max Payne 2) have been working on Alan Wake since early 2000. That may seem like a long time, and that is because it is. Alan Wake has gone through many changes over the ten year development cycle. The final product was well worth the wait for people wanting to control horror novel author, Alan Wake. To be honest I was not really interested in this game until it came out and I started seeing more about it. In the game you play as a writer aptly named Alan Wake. You are quick to learn that Alan is having a textbook case of writers block. The twist is he over comes his writers block with out even knowing it. This twist is revealed pretty early in the story but the writers at Remedy build on it throughout the games six episodes.

    The story in Alan Wake is interesting to say the least. Alan takes a vacation to a sleepy pacific-northwestern town called Bright Falls. This vacation is to try and cure Alan’s writers block. The story of the game is told through manuscript pages found throughout the game. These pages were written by Alan in a week that he does not seem to remember slightly. The pages tell about things that have yet to happen and give a sense of foreshadowing. Even if you were to not collect the manuscript pages you are not missing out on the meat of the story but it is to you benefit to collect all 107 pages(yeah 107 manuscript pages). Town of Bright Falls starts to be taken over by a dark presence which just happens to follow in line with the manuscript that Alan wrote in the week he can not remember. He ends up working with his manager Barry to stop the dark presence and save his wife Alice. Alice has gone missing shortly after the Wakes arrive in bright falls. Alan must fight the dark presence and find out the secret of it to save himself, his wife, and the town of Bright Falls.

    The gameplay in Alan Wake is similar to other games because of the fact that you have to take an enemy’s shield down and then kill them. The difference in Alan Wake is that the shield is darkness and the darkness can only be taken down with light. Throughout most of the game you are equipped with a flashlight which you shine on enemy’s so you will be able to kill them with an assortment of firearms When you are not armed with a flashlight you will have flares which are used to hold the Taken, the name of the enemy’s in the game, back. When you drop a flare all the Taken will back off and give you some breathing room. If you hold on to a flare you can walk with it am make your way to a checkpoint or save area. Checkpoints in Alan Wake come in the form of over head street lamps. When you step foot into on of them your health will start to recharge and you will get a checkpoint. When not in the “save havens” your health slowly recharges. For the majority of the game you will be using a six-shot revolver, with the option to pick up a shotgun or hunting rifle. While there can be a shotgun and hunting rifle in a level you can only hold one “heavy” weapon at a time. In addition to the flares to take down and instantly kill the taken there are flashbangs and a flare gun. Both the flashbangs and flare guns are kind of rare but kill most of the Taken in one hit. The shooting in Alan Wake is entirely competent for a third-person shooter using the flash light focal point as a reticule. The majority of the game takes place in dark woods or abandoned factories. That being said the levels are really linear except for the occasional path that will lead you to a hidden chest or other collectable.

    The quality of Alan Wake come from a combination of writing and gameplay. That being said the story in Alan Wake is the best part of the game. If you are tempted to read about the ending or any element of the story you should hold off until you have played and beaten the game. The gameplay is perfectly fine and interesting for a third-person shooter but things can be fixed. The graphics are fantastic but not perfect. The length is the normal length of games these days taking about 10-12 hours to beat on Normal and even longer on the harder difficulties Remedy has announced two DLCs for Alan Wake thus far. The first one is free and comes with all new copies of Alan Wake and the second is slated for a release shortly after the first one which comes out in July. Both DLCs continue the story of Alan Wake and I for one can not wait to get back and kill more Taken. This game is a great play and can be beaten in a weekend if you are short on cash.
    5.0
  • MJR HAV0KMJR HAV0K186,606
    14 May 2010 14 May 2010
    24 14 18
    A brilliant game from start to finish. Its a cross between resident evil and alone in the dark and they managed to get that cross perfectly.

    Bright falls - a small quiet town with a dark past

    Its all about the use of light to banish the evil spirits (the taken) while trying to work find out where your wife is. The story has enough twists and turns to keep you interested from start to finish. the difficulty gives you a few challenges but nothing a few trys wont solve.
    If you like your scary bumps and a gripping storyline, this is the one for you.

    Difficulty 6/10
    Gameplay 10/10
    Graphics 8/10
    sounds/audio 9/10

    +points
    Great storyline
    Fluid controls
    good mix of achievements to get

    -points
    too many collectables and no great way to track where you missed them
    short - game takes about 8hrs to complete with out collectables
    linear - not to much exploring allowed,
    5.0
  • 15 6 1
    If April's Splinter Cell: Conviction reacquainted gamers with an appreciation of the dark, May will be the time when gamers will fear the darkness and seek out light out of desperation and the need to survive. This is the central theme of Alan Wake, the long-awaited new IP from Remedy Entertainment. The Finnish studio has brought their experience from Max Payne, once again delivering a compellingly visual world, a refined combat system, and a engrossing story. It foregoes the hard-boiled big city noir of Payne and instead explores Stephen King-inspired suspense with an outdoorsy Pacific Northwest setting.
    As a refreshing change to traditional video game characterizations, this game's title character is actually a successful guy, having made a name for himself as a best-selling author. A New York resident, Alan Wake is on vacation with his wife, Alice. Due to suffering from a two-year bout of writer's block, Alice hopes that the secluded town of Bright Falls and the change of scenery gets Alan's creative juices flowing.
    Some in Bright Falls have other plans in mind though, which include the kidnapping of Alice, and the involvement of the FBI and a questionable therapist who specializes in creative types like Wake. Many of the town's residents have also been possessed; known as the Taken, they are out to kill Wake whenever he is in the dark. Often equipped with a flashlight, Wake traverses Bright Falls in search of clues that will help him find Alice. The primary clue comes in the form of pages scattered throughout the game and are coincidentally parts of a manuscript that is credited to Wake, but one he does not remember writing.
    Despite the premise of a missing loved one, a possessed town and the game's psychological leanings, Remedy attests that Silent Hill was not a major influence on the game. Instead it takes more inspiration from shows like Twin Peaks, Lost, and 24. In fact, the game goes as far as to split the chapters into serialized episodes. It works for the most part, but certainly does not possess the episode count one would find in a TV season's DVD boxset. One can even argue that some of the episodes could have been broken down into smaller portions.
    Max Payne writer Sam Lake brings his narration-driven prose to the game. It fits better than his previous works due to the obvious fact that Wake is a writer himself. Lake, to his credit, lightens up on the metaphors this time around, which he manages to poke fun of at one point in the game. In addition, the various NPCs throughout Alan Wake are fleshed out well and are not just frivolous characters that had it been another game, would have just one or two lines. It is especially refreshing that many of these characters do not take long to believe Wake's predicament and are caught up in the perils of Bright Falls themselves. A couple of them also join Wake for a small portion of the game's exploration and combat, but thankfully do not need escort-mission babysitting.

    Aside from the Stephen King nods, many well-known authors are referenced even if some are only briefly mentioned as slight jabs in the game's dialogue. The countless birds that can pester Alan to death is an obvious Hitchcock homage, and Poltergeist fans will like the many possessed objects that seek to take out Wake. These objects, like the Taken, can be beaten with light.
    The flashlight becomes a weapon as much as the firearms Wake comes across. By holding down on the left trigger, the player is able to boost the intensity of the light, thereby disarming the Taken. Other items can be easily selected with the d-pad, and guns and thrown items can be used with the right trigger and the right bumper respectively. When timed right, the left bumper allows Alan to dodge attacks from the Taken, a move that is rendered in satisfying slow motion for added effect.
    Navigation throughout the seemingly vast wilderness is assisted by a waypoint indicator. It points with a degree of accuracy that almost takes the fun out of exploration, let alone the possibility of losing one's way in the chaos of a Taken attack. It might have been intriguing to have a more challenging optional device such as a compass. This might have actually worked since the game often cuts away to a long aerial shot whenever Alan sets forth on his next goal.
    Despite Remedy's initial plan of making Alan Wake a promising sandbox style title, the final linear result ultimately works in the game's favor. This is especially the case when it comes to preserving its narrative flow. While other adventure titles of similar length pad the experience with time-consuming detours and uninspiring backtracking, Alan Wake exhibits a rare degree of conciseness hardly seen in games. There are numerous obstacles throughout Bright Falls but passing through those locked doors, gaps, and electrified fences takes no more than five minutes or so. There are also countless short paths that deviate from the waypoint indicator, all of which can lead to weapons, ammo stashes, collectible Thermos bottles, and manuscript pages.
    This streamlined approach also extends to the game's suitcase-free inventory system, lending to a sense of realism. At most Alan can only carry a flashlight, one flare gun, one revolver, a handful of ammo, batteries and some flashbang grenades. He is also limited to either a shotgun or a rifle, but certainly not both. There are also no health items as Alan relies on both light and rest periods between battles to heal up.
    Survival horror fans who conservatively save items should not have to worry about stocking up ammo for the long term as the start of each chapter manages to find a convincing reason to strip Alan of his stuff. Of course a reasonable degree of item management should be exercised and the player ought to make sure that the Taken are weakened with enough light before unloading a stream of ammo rounds. It should be added firing a flaregun in a crowd of Taken is one of the many satisfying experiences in Alan Wake.


    In other titles, opportunistic gamers exploit weak enemy AI and the checkpoint/save system by making kamikaze runs to the next checkpoint/save so as to avoid combat. In Alan Wake, gamers are practically encouraged to escape some situations. Remedy breaks additional gaming conventions by making the majority of the enemies fast enough to catch up to Alan; those who are slow are equally threatening with their heavy-duty weapons and stalking demeanor. There's a heightened sense of tension as the darkness further accentuates the little light in the game. Often the player will have to make the split-second value judgment on whether to take on the Taken directly or use the few available flares to stall the Taken and take refuge under the spotlight just a couple dozen yards away. Alan also exhibits a convincing level running stamina where he is only able to sprint in short bursts. This all leads to a Sleepy Hollow-like sense of heart-racing tension where the user feels like Ichabod Crane (or a pursued screaming cheerleader from countless slasher films) many times over.
    One might think that setting the majority of a game in a dark forest would be a risky proposition in potential monotony, but Remedy manages to make it work. The weeks and mileage the team racked up in their Washington/Oregon research trips paid off as Alan Wake is one of the most graphically superb Xbox 360 games to date. Aside from the forest, there other many other environments that show great detail and contrast when explored by flashlight. Shacks and farmhouses are spooky, a mine can induce claustrophobia, and an expansive vacant road can send chills knowing that Taken are most likely close by.
    Alan Wake's soundtrack is a well-thought-out mix of diegetic and non-diegetic songs that maintain a mostly 'Americana' feel; one might initially hope Johnny Cash would be heard at the end credits (he is not in the soundtrack). Many of these songs do fit the setting and would not be out of place in an episode of The X-Files. The only thing that outdoes the soundtrack is the string section crescendos that play briefly every time the camera cuts away to an approaching Taken, making the scene all the more suspenseful.
    Provided the player savors the experience, explores, and reads the manuscript pages, it should take a little bit over ten hours to beat Alan Wake the first time around. It goes without saying that skilled gamers should start off on Hard mode as there are no more than a handful of scenes that will need two or three attempts. Moreover, all of the achievements are reasonably attainable where half of them can be unlocked by just completing the first playthrough.

    It is a compliment to Alan Wake that--to paraphrase a movie critique cliche--many gamers will find themselves starting a new, harder playthrough the moment the credits finish rolling. The game's concise design will be unappreciated by many, but seldom has there been a game like this where linearity is a wholly positive experience. It is equally impressive that the manuscript page set-up is not merely an arbitrary collectible (typical in many other adventure games) but actually has important relevance in the game's overall story. The ending is arguably satisfying, leaving enough open in the story to justify a follow-up. Remedy fans will certainly not allow the same seven-year gap between Max Payne 2 and Alan Wake but perhaps DLC-format releases might work, provided Remedy can make a commitment similar to that of a full game. It will certainly be Game of the Year for a number of media outlets, which is not an easy accomplishment given this already-jam-packed year of AAA titles. The game's lightning accomplishments will be hard to beat come awards time and writer Sam Lake once again does his share in legitimizing the video game as a serious storytelling medium.
    (This review was based off an 10-hour playthrough of the game on its normal difficulty setting. 41 out of 50 achievements were earned for a total Gamerscore of 680.)
  • DavieMarshallDavieMarshall211,261
    03 Oct 2010
    12 5 0
    Alan Wake is a game that was talked about for eons prior to it's release on the Xbox 360. As such it's prone to come under a hefty scrutiny from it's audience. Alan Wake does a great job of standing it;'s own ground firmly though.

    The entire game is basically a premise of light vs. dark. Nothing new and ground breaking there. The reason that this holds the game together so well though is through the power of the story telling in the game and the manner in which the plot is delivered. The cut scenes are directed with a 'TV/movie' style in mind and they look appropriate 'professional' and 'grown up' for a game which is pitching itself at the top end of the gaming audience and not trying to appeal to the casual gamer.

    Each chapter of the game is presented with an initial cut scene (which are often fairly lengthy) albeit interspersed with some gamer interaction to stop the story telling from feeling too drawn out or laborious. Information is drip fed to the player leading you to believe you've picked up on something worthy to plot whilst actually side tracking you leaving you open to a later twist or plot development. It's very good and not quite the cliched plot you'd expect when you hear 'it's about light vs. dark'.

    The game is played out in third person with very few controls. It boils down to walking/running, a few interactions on the 'a' button and aiming/shooting and dodging. It's simple, but it works. Alan Wake is, after all, a writer and not a gung-ho action hero with a variety of kick ass moves within his arsenal.

    My biggest gripe with the controls would actually be the inclusion of a jump action on 'a' which you just never use. When you do try or are required to use it, Alan fumbles clumsily with his obstacle trying in vain to clear it and often failing and looking like a muppet in the process.

    The aiming/shooting area of the game is where the combat shines. The enemies you will face are shrouded in darkness. This darkness must be banished from around them using your torch enabling you to despatch them with a weapon (if you have one to hand and the ammo to match). Confrontations can become quite stressful affairs (in terms of 'edge of the seat' factor and not as in a pain to deal with from a gaming perspective), as the enemies aren't slow and lumbering and will happily charge you down or fling objects at you from afar.

    As you battle to keep them at bay with your torch before you can take aim, you'll find yourself being flanked by the rest of the group and frantically trying to compensate for this by dodging your way out of trouble and keeping your flashlight topped up with new batteries.

    The combat doesn't feature a great deal of depth nor variation, but because of the scenario described above any encounter with the dark force cannot be passed of fas boring.

    Some of the best sections in the game see you without an offensive weapon and only flares with you must loft above your head to keep the hordes at bay before picking your moment to run for your life and toward the next 'Safe Haven', which are dotted around in the form of bright lights left untouched and undamaged by the chaos around you.

    At some points in the game, running for your life will be replaced with driving for your life. For a change in game pace, they're OK. Considering the fact that they crop up several times however, they're not really 'game ready'. The handling of the cars can be a little questionable, the sound effects like something from a nineties arcade game, and the collision detection/damage mechanics might you leave scratching your head from time to time. These sequences aren't awful, but they could have been tightened up a little.

    As for the length of the game, it's something you'll be able to really sink your teeth into. I was putting in several hours at a time and whilst exploring the Chapters fully. The beauty of the story telling is the problem here though. You quickly fall victim to the 'I'm nearly there! Just fifteen more minutes!' syndrome before realising you're supposed to be getting up for work in four hours time. It really does pull you in.

    That's thanks in no small part to the atmosphere of the game. The forests, abandoned buildings, sound track, sound effects are all top notch. With the lights down low you'll be lost within Bright Falls and Alan Wake's adventures. That said, don't pick this up expecting a 'truly terrifying' experience, because for some reason it lacks the 'Silent Hill', 'Condemned' scare factor. I can't quite place why, but it does when by all rights the ingredients are in place for that to be the case.

    A game that is truly worth the money you'll spend on it with plenty of gaming time to be had out of it especially when you replay the game on Nightmare difficulty (which is unlocked once you complete the game for your first time).
    4.0
  • SteampunkZomb1eSteampunkZomb1e197,838
    27 Apr 2011 28 Apr 2011
    10 7 4
    I waited a long time for Alan Wake. When i got my original 360 for christmas back in 2005 i wanted to play Alan Wake. Hell, I even changed my gamer tag to Alan Wait in anticipation (My name is Alan by the way). So when the game finally arrived and my Limited but slighlty damaged Edition arrived from Play.com i booked the day off work to adventure around Bright Falls.

    I was not dissapointed. I liked the fact the game was split into night and day, and the cut scenes moved the story along nicely. The graphics were atmospheric at night and nice and bright and showed an almost cheery Bright Falls during the day.

    The game involves fight the darkness infected locals with a torch and a gun, it requires a bit of brain rather than a lot of run and gunning. The game is story based, but the acting, the script are not great. Not polished enough. I think the whole game is badly written.

    I have completed Alan Wake and did enjoy it, but there were a few problems in my opinion. Too many collectables. Thermos, Manuscripts, creates ect. Far too many. They could of had a brancing story line to give the game more replayability.
    All the enemies looked the same, and all i got bored of move, fight, move, fight.
    Needs more problems to solve, or more investigatining or more talking to people like ME2.

    Shame. I would rate this game 8/10. Almost there...

    Also, the story really confused me....send me a private message if you have a good synopsis of this game.
    4.0
  • NoBadKittensNoBadKittens140,187
    28 Jun 2010
    17 17 0
    Seriously, anybody who needs that much coffee needs to get help immediately.

    Alan Wake is probably one of the best stories I've seen in a game in many years. And by story, I mean INTERESTING story, not "blatant huge space marine fights down alien enemy because they're different". I hate collectibles though, so that makes this game a bit of a pain for me. Who seriously watches television when being chased by axe murderers?

    "OH MY GOD, THAT MAN HAS AN AX-Hey, Friends is on. Sweet."

    I do like the way that all the collectibles tie into the story itself, (well aside from the coffee) but seriously, collectibles, ESPECIALLY in a game like Alan Wake, seems offputting to me and really makes me dread other playthroughs. HOWEVER, Remedy did something that a LOT of other games should do (and come to think of it, Valve does this too). They decided that your statistics for each playthrough would carry over to various playthroughs. So if you only found 99/100 coffee thermoses, don't worry, you won't have to find them all over again, you only have to find that one.

    Hopefully you remember which thermos that was because otherwise, you're going to play an entire game based on the single thought that you have to get A SINGLE UNKNOWN THERMOS.

    But still, I really appreciate Remedy for doing that.

    Now, as far as graphics go-and I'm not a huge graphics fan, I mean, they're nice to look at I suppose, but they don't make or break a game for me. So as far as they go, this game's pretty well detailed and very lush looking. But for some reason the ingame cutscenes look WORSE than the gameplay itself. But maybe that's just ME. Overall, it looks a lot better than most games I've seen recently. I have to say one other thing about gameplay and collectibles and that's that you have to collect manuscript pages from a book you don't remember writing in the game. You can also READ said manuscript pages, which...well I don't know but doesn't reading in a videogame kind of contradict playing the game itself?

    So Remedy, my choices are I can READ about what I'm playing/going to play, or I can PLAY it. Hmmm....which one do I want to do? (enter sarcasm meter here)

    I may seem harsh and cynical about the game, but that's not true, I LOVED it. It's one of my favorite games EVER now. I found the light vs dark aspect extremely interesting, and something I hadn't seen done much, or ever really. I also enjoyed the voice acting, though it doesn't exactly deserve an A. Wake often sounds like a bored history teacher on valium. Not too compelling.
    But I did enjoy the gameplay, which was some of the best gameplay I've ever experienced. The controls were super easy to master which made the gameplay more fun because I knew what I was doing. I'm also getting sick of these "harder than hard" modes, which I believe the HALO franchise started. You know, easy (sometimes), normal, hard, then something like "SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FACE AFTER HOURS OF AGGRAVATION MODE." Something should only have the first 3 settings, because once you hit hard, how much more hard do you want to make the game without pissing off your consumers? Seriously? And how much harder CAN you make it? You know, in normal you have a few Taken to deal with every now and then, in Hard the Taken have submachine guns and grenades, and in Nightmare the Taken have submachine guns, grenades, Bomber Jets and....oh let's say the entire Vietkong Army. JUST FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT.

    But to the point. Alan Wake-besides the collectible hunting-is a great, well told game, and fun to play. I just recently beat my 2nd playthrough and had JUST as much fun, which is rare for me. I am looking forward to playing it again too, and I am glad the money I spent on Alan Wake was worth it, unlike the money I spent on Red Dead Redemption. In Alan Wake, I had to fight an evil source of darkness that wanted to consume my life. In Red Dead, I herded cattle.

    Hm. Which one do YOU think your kid would want to unwrap at Christmas?
    5.0
  • GB Lightning 88GB Lightning 88309,690
    01 Sep 2011
    1 6 0
    I was not expecting much from this game but once i had played the campaign right the way through my opinions completely changed, The game keeps you on a knife edge from start to finish, some parts of the game i didn't really like (especially when it came to the torch) but then i suppose that added to the whole effect, Very enjoyable not for the faint hearted, i rented this game as it is not really a keeper. once the story line had been completed i found it hard to go back in to collect any achievements that needed mopping up
    4.0
  • Grimm GloomGrimm Gloom58,916
    24 Jul 2010 25 Jul 2010
    0 7 0
    REACTION
    This eagerly awaited game promised the moon. Open sandbox town where horrors mix and mingle with the quaint town of Bright Falls and its strange and quirky inhabitants. A Day/Night System that had gamers counting, rushing and waiting with every twist.

    I have seen this movie before... Deadly Premonition? A surprisingly wonderful game unfortunately riddled with the same flaws as a PS1 game. Alan Wake has a very good track record before release and then they start the mini series (I suggest the mini series to all).

    Alan Wake is a liar... what was produced was another god awful Max Pain game.

    GAME MECHANICS
    Alan Wake is broken up into Chapters. The start of each chapter (excluding the first) has a "previously on "Alan Wake" section and is self contained, meaning all weapons, health, batteries and other useful items are taken away at the end weather they are used or not.

    The Day/Night mechanics mentioned earlier don't exist. There is no daytime exploring or mingling with the people, the closest you get is a tour through one building that is non interactive except walking... fun

    Fighting is clever, at first, soon becoming monotonous "Flashlight, Shoot, Repeat... and repeat... and repeat"

    STORY
    The saddest part of Alan Wake is the story. How cool is a writer creating a story just to have it come alive and try to eat him?!? Remedy (being their brilliant selves) decided instead of putting the focus on the story to dull the story down for the game play.

    SUMMARY
    It's not worth it
    2.0
  • Dr ZuggDr Zugg9,461
    30 Jan 2011
    1 9 1
    Stackin' G's OFFICIAL Game review


    Hey guys, Here is my uber quick review..


    -Gameplay


    The game play in this game is amazing, You will be hooked for days on end. The general game type is like Alone in the dark or Deadspace..

    Score 10 / 10

    -Graphics


    The graphics on this game are immense, Its like HD without a HD TV..

    Score 10 / 10


    -Achievements

    The Achievements on this game are all single player so its an easy 700/800.. But some will struggle on Nightmare difficulty and there is over 300 Collectibles..

    Score 9 / 10


    Overall Score 9.5 / 10


    Wow a whopping 9.5 there, A definite buy for all those 3rd person thriller lovers..
    5.0
  • MarkySharkyMarkySharky238,880
    20 May 2010
    1 9 2
    I wasn't expecting too much from Alan Wake and only picked it up to tide me over until Red Dead Redemption comes out.

    However, on the whole, I did enjoy the game a lot but I feel it was let down by an overly convoluted plot in which there were too many characters and too many unexplained factors.

    Chapter 1 and 2 are pretty slow going, however 3, 4 and 5 are excellent and the game really picks up in all aspects.

    Chapter 6 was frustrating at times and the story seems to go off on a tangent and I didn't know what the hell was going The ending made no sense to me at all.

    The in-game graphics are really good but I feel the facial animation in the cut-scenes was a bit poor at times. The game has excellent sound effects and really kept me on my toes.

    The combat takes some getting used to, but during the the episodes I enjoyed, the different weapons really came into their own.

    Overall the weakest part of the game was the plot. Too many characters and I didn't understand where they all fitted in and it just seemed to spiral out of control in the last episode.

    It's a shame as there are lots of things to like about Alan Wake.
    3.0