The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
“Stephen King once wrote that 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.” These are the first lines of dialogue spoken
in Alan Wake. Through this message, Remedy reveals its hand of cards to
the player, outlining exactly what to expect from this horror
Alan Wake’s narrative is designed like a dream. Just
when you think you’ve understood its message, it transforms without
clarification, leaving you, and protagonist Alan Wake, in the dark.
Applying logic to the plot points only creates further confusion. This
is what makes Alan Wake so frustrating, and yet, at the same time, a
work of art. If you can detach yourself from reality and let this tale
pull you into its dark dreamscape, you’ll be treated to a brilliantly
penned and disturbingly imaginative journey.
Most of the plot
points are intentionally hazy, and scattered like puzzle pieces
throughout the game. The way I connected them will likely differ from
the way you would put them together. As a fan of the TV show Lost,
I like that the story is open to interpretation. Even now, days after
completing the game, I find myself deciphering sequences in different
ways. Remedy’s scribes plant pieces throughout this story that, can pull
the narrative in one direction, should you latch onto one, or in
another trajectory entirely if you believe a different one.
walked away from Alan Wake dazzled and dazed by the story, but it also
deserves respect for being one hell of a game. Thickly populated woods,
dilapidated factories, and village folk that could be deemed too creepy
or weird for Twin Peaks unite to create the perfect setting for
horror. Alan’s flashlight provides the only comfort. I was constantly
thinking about what lies outside of its beam. Silhouetted trees sway in
the wind. Shadows are sometimes mere tricks of the eye, while others are
possessed villagers intent on killing Alan. This is a heart-racer of a
game. The visuals and sound unload suspense, and Remedy’s designers
waste no time in rattling the player’s heart. Chainsaw-wielding
lumberyard workers suddenly burst through doors. Without any notice, a
truck could fall from the sky a foot in front of you. All this adds up
to an enjoyably tense adventure through the world of the weird.
weird best describes the game’s biggest misstep: forcing you to battle
possessed farm equipment, like an angry combine. Alan Wake offers up
powerful combat sequences and remarkably solid controls – not to mention
a cleverly designed targeting reticle that piggybacks off of your
flashlight’s beam. The battles against crazed villagers are fun, but
most of the conflicts are telegraphed clearly through the environment
design, removing some of the intended fear. Oddly, Alan Wake is almost
too much of a game in the traditional sense. Farm equipment boss fights
are neatly divided throughout the quest, and I can’t seem to wrap my
brain around the reasoning behind this, but one of Alan’s side goals is
to collect 100 coffee thermoses. These classic gaming staples were
jarring enough to pull me out of the fiction in which I was deeply
immersed. Thankfully, the game is weighted heavily in the direction of
If you don’t mind periodically revisiting game design
from 1999, Alan Wake is an engaging horror mystery that brings the
heart of Stephen King’s style of storytelling to the interactive medium.
Like King’s books, you won’t find a better topic for water cooler
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.