The lights are on
Despite being a big fan of Remedy’s Max Payne series, Alan Wake’s announcement floated by me relatively unnoticed. I’m thankful the game grabbed my attention during a Microsoft press event, or I may have missed out on a great action game with a heavy dose of mystery. The warmly received 360 and Arcade game (read our review) didn’t meet sales expectations out of the gate, leading me to believe many gamers haven’t given it a try. This is their wake-up call.
I didn’t know a lot about Alan Wake leading up its release. However, I was an immediate fan of Remedy’s Max Payne series. Bullet time was a great time, but that’s not what kept me coming back. I loved how Max’s heavy-handed, metaphor-laden monologues fit the noir tone so well. I also appreciated the surreal nature of the comic-book panels used to drive the story forward, along with the bizarre TV shows playing on TV sets throughout the game. Max’s life sucked, and Remedy wasn’t afraid to illustrate that with a macabre home invasion sequence and twisted nightmares. These elements were polished up in Max Payne 2, and that game put Remedy on my radar. Max Payne 2’s faux-TV series, Address Unknown, sticks with me specifically. Its brooding narration and oddball twists planted the seeds of Alan Wake. (In fact, Address Unknown’s doppleganger antagonist John Mira resembles Mr. Scratch from Alan Wake’s American Nightmare).
I first played Alan Wake at a Microsoft showcase event prior to release. These flashy, loud events aren’t generally the best environments to play dark, atmospheric games, but Alan Wake still sucked me in. The tale of a fiction writer whose stories were manifesting in a small lumbering town fascinated me. Like Max Payne, I enjoyed the gameplay – shining away enemies’ dark, protective auras with a flashlight and blasting them with shotguns is a treat. But the unpredictable Twin Peaks-esque story glued me to the game. The immersive effect was heightened when I finally got my hands on the final product.
Nailing down a specific element that makes Alan Wake great is difficult. There are plenty of memorable moments – Defending a concert stage as pyrotechnics erupt and rock music blares, fleeing from a gigantic tornado, and an eerie trek through a mansion dedicated to helping troubled creative types. Pages of Alan Wake’s manuscript are scattered across the game world, which are read aloud to flesh out the story and prophesize upcoming events. It may sound minor, but voice actor Matthew Porretta’s emotional narration drives these enigmatic excerpts home. For me, Alan Wake is a smooth blend of satisfying gameplay and an enthralling story. Few game conclusions spark breathless hypothesizing around the Game Informer office like Alan Wake’s did.
I’m excited for Remedy’s new title, Quantum Break, but can’t help but be a little sad about the developer shelving Alan Wake 2 (It’s impossible not to be a little after melancholy watching writer Sam Lake essentially break up with his fans). I enjoyed my time with the DLC follow-up, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, despite the heavy backtracking element. While fans of the unique title have to wait for the next chapter In Alan Wake’s story, those that missed out are in for a treat. That is, if I’ve convinced you.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
One of the best 360 games ever made. I love it, can't wait for Remedy to get back to the series.
I think the promise of a new Alan Wake is the biggest reason that I'm getting a One.
I don't know why, but I didn't like Alan Wake as much as I thought I would. It was still a good game just not what I thought it was going to be.
I've actually always found Alan Wake to be relatively overrated. The gameplay is solid and fun, but the story nothing but wasted potential.
Awesome game......definitely worth playing.
Cool game, but it's tough to think of a game that's sold 3 million copies in the cult classic realm.
The PC version made back all of it's development costs in less than two days.
There are a lot of games out there that can't manage that sort of thing. Any game that can recoup its expenses in a weekend is doing just fine in terms of word-of-mouth and user base.
Then again, Driver: San Fran is on this list too, and that game ALSO exceeded sales projections--so maybe this list was created by the same types of people who love to say, "No one believed in our team," when they win a championship.
Had some great time with this great title.
this game was a fantastic game with a great story
This is one of my favorite games of this generation. The setting and story are excellently crafted and the atmosphere of the game pulls you in like few others. I hope at some point Remedy revisits this franchise because I can see the possibilities for so much more from this IP. At the same time, something new from this studio should be very interesting.
This was a cult hit? I thought it was quite popular.
I just finally picked up all of the Alan Wake content in the Humble Bundle and marathoned my way through every bit of it in 3 days. I loved every moment.
Alan Wake was a phenomenal story based game story game thing. ;-)
I picked up every piece of Alan Wake (Alan Wake, Alan Wake: American Nightmare, The Signal, and The Writer) last Tuesday. Got it all for $16. Today is the last day for the sale on the Xbox Marketplace. Great choice, Tim.
Currently playing through it now. I've been wanting to play it for a while and finally got it since it was on sale. Definitely loving every minute of it so far. Might even be one that I'll try and get all the achievements for.
For those of you who haven't (and Tim's article hasn't convinced you enough, let me put in my two cents): play this game, it's awesome. You won't regret it.
i just bought this on games on demand cuz i wanted to replay it now i need a sequel
I was always intrigued by this game but I never got around to playing it.
This brilliant game terrified me. I loved it but seriously it gave me nightmares. Perhaps it was after playing alone till 2am in my empty basement-at least I thought it was empty..
I played Alan Wake on my 360 and it is an amazing game. The story is creepy but very interesting and the mechanics are well done and fun. This game is very unique and I recommend it highly.
Alan wake was great, but ill be honest i got lost half way in the story.