The lights are on
Alan Wake is a game that borrows heavily from some of the most famous pieces
of horror writing in recent years. Taking cues from the likes of Stephen King,
and Hitchcock. That being said it doesn't ever feel as though it's just lazily
stealing ideas, most of the concepts that are used seem to have new life
breathed into them by infusing them with a bit of Alan Wake lore.
The story surrounds a writer who is suffering from writers block and
decides to go on a vacation with his wife to a small rural town called Bright
Falls. After arriving and meeting some of the inhabitants of the town, Alan and
his wife Alice settle in to their vacation home. A short while later they get
into an argument about Alan's writers block and Alan storms off, only to be
called back by Alice's cries for help. Unfortunately, Alan doesn't arrive in
time and Alice mysteriously disappears, thus begins his quest to find the woman
Throughout the story many more characters are introduced with personalities
ranging from funny to outright eerie. These characters all drive the plot to a
certain degree by adding a common enemy, moving the story forward, or splitting
up all the tension and atmosphere with a little comic relief. The game itself
is full of many memorable moments; enemies will run around Alan shouting funny
yet bizarre one-liners that can catch the player off guard. Other moments
include, climbing onto a stage and rocking out to the Old Gods of Asgard whilst
taking on a horde of enemies, or just getting drunk, because it seemed like a
good idea at the time.
The plot of the game can get a bit confusing and it could take more than one
playthrough to fully understand what happened at certain points in the game. A
lot of the game; the ending included, is left up to individual interpretation
and plot holes are left deliberately unfilled in an effort to let players
speculate about what happened, which is a bold move, but it seems to have worked.
Graphics & Environments
The graphics for the game are great for the most part. Environments are
detailed and plenty of time has been used to create realistic character models
and environments for the player to traverse. The lighting effects seen
throughout the game are some of the best I've seen, but that is to be expected
considering how large a role light and darkness play in the game.
I would have liked a little more time exploring the town of Bright Falls and
a little less time walking through forest after forest, but that's just a minor
The only major problem I had with graphics would be the lip-synching and
some of the facial animations during cut-scenes. These two problems are the
main reason I kept getting pulled out of the immersion that the game creates.
It's a shame that these two problems are so bad when so much effort has been
put into the voice acting.
The main enemies in the game are fairly similar to the villagers from Resident Evil
4; in that they wield farming equipment, shout random garbage and chase after
you relentlessly, they even share the same axe throwing skills. The main
difference of course is that most enemies are shrouded in darkness ( a form of
protection created by the main villain, in a sense ) and can only be damaged
when this protection has been removed. This can be accomplished by shining
Alan's torch on them for a short period of time or setting off some kind of
explosion that can generate light. After they are exposed Alan is free to take
pot-shots at their actual health with his arsenal of guns, flares, and / or
As you would expect the regular enemies in the game get progressively stronger
as it goes on and newer variations of them appear wielding larger weapons and
with some eventually turning into larger villagers with increased damage and
health to add a little extra difficulty to the game.
Other enemy types include flocks of birds that can swarm Alan, Hitchcock
style; these ones can be pretty infuriating on the hardest mode. Another rather
frustrating enemy type is the "poltergeist". The poltergeist is the darkness
controlling objects in the vicinity of Alan and hurling them at him in an
effort to stop the player. The type of objects that the darkness picks up can
range from small items such as tyres or chairs to larger things like tractors,
boats or trains. I must say, props to Alan for being able to take a steel
girder to the face and just walk it off.
The biggest problem I had with enemies though is that usually when an enemy
appears the camera will zoom in on their location revealing them to the player.
If the game didn't do this I feel it could have been a lot scarier.
This game may have one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard.
The licensed songs that play at the end of each chapter all seemed oddly
fitting to the mood and give the player a little breathing time to relax before
the next part of the story unfolds. The voice acting is also pretty solid. With
a couple of minor mess ups with how some people react to the current situation.
The achievements aren't really that bad. I imagine the only ones that could
put players off getting them all would be the achievement for completing the
game on the hardest setting and collecting a bunch of extra collectibles on
said mode. It is worth noting that a lot of the achievements in this game to
open up new details for what is happening throughout the story and if you want
to get the full experience you may as well go after them. If not, you're not
really missing out on anything too important.
There are some achievements that feel a little out of place though. One achievement in particualr is for collecting a bunch of coffee thermoses scattered across most
levels, and I've been told this is a reference to Twin Peaks but it just seems
odd that they would put even more collectibles in the game when you consider
the large amount of manuscript pages the game also lets you collect.
To sum up, consistently good storytelling and plot twists will keep the
player guessing as to what will happen next and the difficulty curve will
ensure the player can't breeze through the game without struggling at least a
little bit. It's a great cinematic adventure that plays out almost like a movie
and the atmosphere remains top quality throughout the entirety of the game. I'd
recommend it to fans of psychological / horror type games and action /
adventure fans as well.
No one has commented on this article.