Alan Wake fans rejoice – Alan Wake has hit the PC! It even includes two DLC continuations – The Signal and The Writer.
You are immediately thrown into a nightmare, face-to-face with your own creation – a hitchhiker from your own stories. As combat initially consists of merely dodging attacks and running away from the enemy, it was a relief when Alan obtained a flashlight and a gun. The flashlight can be used to stun enemies and make them melt (or burn) away. I found myself wanting a gun that I could use to really blast enemies, though the small handgun and flashlight are fitting to the story and Alan’s progression from a writer to a killer. He certainly looks the part of a writer with his little flashlight and less than impressive weapon, all the way down to the tweed elbow pads on his jacket.
The game takes place in Bright Falls, a quaint, small town on the edge of the water. The landscape is hauntingly beautiful: fog swirling around the shadows, the wooded forest and misty lake dark, yet eerily alluring. The sense of foreboding gives a weight to the scenery that enhances the overall feel of this psychological thriller. Despite the set narrative path winding throughout the trees, you can’t help but notice the almost supernatural beauty of the forest enshrouded in darkness and mist.
The voice acting for Alan sets Alan Wake apart in a genre where every small detail is critical in establishing the validity of the game, a genre in which games can quickly plummet from truly engrossing to just plain cheesy. The eeriness of the story is enhanced by the delivery of each line, which is critical in poignant moments such as, “You think you’re God? You think you can just make up stuff? Play with people’s lives and kill them when you think it adds to the drama? You’re in this story now, and I’ll make you suffer!” Alan’s voice has a perfect level of huskiness, adding enough mystery and intrigue to the narration without going overboard. The cadence of his voice has the appeal of a horror story told by a campfire, selling the story of its own accord, unaided by special effects.
Alan Wake is broken up into six episodes. Early in the game, you discover a manuscript called The Departure, authored by Alan. Although that is the title of his next book, he can’t remember writing it. Pages of the manuscript are scattered throughout the game, and if you chose to read them, Alan narrates each section. The mystery lain out by the discovery of the manuscript, fights with his wife over his 2 year long writer’s block, and the appearance of his story’s character add to the drama and intrigue of the story.
In addition to manuscript pages, you can also gather collectible coffee thermoses (what the heck…why do I need to collect 100 of these things?). The coffee mugs threw me, as they have little to do with the game. However, I do enjoy the believable conversation style within the game. Rather than pressing a button to begin a conversation, people talk to you and others as you explore the area. Alan Wake feels more realistic and immersive than other games for this reason alone. The game is very much a guided experience with the objective shown in the corner and even graffiti to show you where to find supplies (lithium batteries, ammo, weapons).
KitGuru says: If psychological thrillers are your cup of tea, then this is a game for you. Alan Wake will take you on a journey amidst a torrent of nerves. Eerie sound effects add to the suspense and overall sense of unease all the way through to its conclusion. As Alan Wake says, “The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it’s what we’ll remember in the end.”