With scores of 10
out 10, 95% and plus, not to mention praises from almost every
corner of the globe, I thought that my version of Alan Wake was
different than everyone else's. Was I missing something or was Alan
Wake not my cup of tea. It was like a new version of Alone in the
Dark, not like the bad sequels but like the original. With state of
the art graphics, this third person adventure game was eagerly
awaited by the gaming community... unfortunately for me, something
Letís get this
straight first, Alan Wake is not a bad game but in the grand scheme
of things, itís also not that memorable either. The hype of Alan
Wake has been around for a few years now and in my opinion, Alan
Wake is a little late for its party. Were this game released a
year or more ago, it would have received a higher score from me. Max
Payne was memorable (by the same creators as this) as it pushed the
boundaries of the gaming world, whereas Alan Wake rests a little on
its laurels. It doesn't add anything new to this genre and borrows
heavily from others, such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil and more
specifically Alone in the Dark. It's Stephen King meets the XBox
In terms of story,
the game attempts to transcend the world of realism versus the
surreal as gamers take the leading role of Alan Wake, a popular
author who has unfortunately hit a rough patch of writerís block
when it comes to his stories. To compound the situation, his fiancť
has suggested that they both go away on a holiday, however she is
hoping that this holiday will reinspire him to write again, much to
Alanís disgust. The plot starts early in the game and when his
goes missing, it's
up to Alan and you to piece together this big mystery.
It's definitely a what the moment!
Using elements of
the survival horror genre, Alanís world is turned upside down and on
the way to this remote country town where he experiences one of his
most vivid nightmares ever, it opens the plot to the gamer. Upon
arriving in the town, Alan meets some strange people that at times
makes this game more akin to Twin Peaks, rather than Silent Hill.
Apparently, Alanís creations from his books have seemed to have
manifested themselves into his world and without spoiling the story
any further, things go from strange to totally bizarre. The game,
even though it's clichťd is setup quite well.
Exploring this strange hybrid world of light versus darkness does
offer some challenges along the way for the gamer and the more you
explore, the more you will be awarded as you search for clues.
Thankfully the first part of the game works as a tutorial and the
basics of combat and movement are explained. The best way to
describe the game interaction is Alone in the Dark 21st century
style as you're always on edge, attempting to explore, gather clues
and of course fight for your life and those around you.
The two elements of
Alan Wake are light and darkness. When things go dark, you
immediately know that Alan will eventually come into danger but
whatís even worse is that you donít know when this will happen but
you know that it will. As mentioned, the first level plays like a tutorial that
teaches you how to use your flashlight on your enemies which they
despise. By shining the light at them, this makes them more tangible
and allows them to be damaged by a variety of different weapons. Of
course, it doesnít help that some of these creatures are actually
townsfolk who have been turned by this darkness but it does setup a
great psychological aspect to the gameplay.
As Alan explores
this dark world, the developers leave subtle clues around the world
that you explore from pages of your unpublished manuscript which
does (pun intended) shed some light onto this mystery. I also like
the fact that Alan Wake is presented like a TV mini-series with
particular chapters in the game and speaking of the TV, there are
TVís and radioís in the game that give you more insight into
this strange psychological thriller, ala Twilight Zone. In terms of
controlling Alan, he does interact a little jerky with the
environment but all in all, it manages to work but does become a
chore when there are too many enemies around. Thankfully the controls are
Combat is the key
to Alan Wake and is quite intense, especially as you progress and
the enemies grow and grow. As mentioned, you need to shine light
onto them to make them susceptible to damage and when youíre
surrounded like a Dawn of the Dead movie, it sometimes becomes annoyingly
frustrating to dispatch them. At times, these enemies will
overrun you but then the game throws a spanner into the combat
mechanics and allows you to duck in an almost quick-time event setup.
Destroying enemies is not the problem, itís trying to shine your
torch or flare on them to make them tangible. Eventually, when you
piece together the clues, it's time for the grand finale and
unfortunately this comes a little too soon... around 12 or so hours.
Level design is good and quite
detailed, nut the game does have a little dated look in some
places but then again, it looks amazing at other times. There is
good use of lighting and special effects that is only enhanced by
the engaging soundtrack and of course all the sound effects. The
voice acting is a little forced but hey... what game isn't?
In conclusion, Alan Wake
delivers an interesting and sturdy gaming experience, however
for me, the whole experience seemed a little dated from the combat
engine to certain gaming moments that we've seen it all before. The
story may not be the most original in the gaming world but as a
psychological thriller it works and if you're looking for a third
person adventure game, there are definitely far worse than this. Of
course, most gamers will able to knock this title over in around 12
or so hours and once you've played it, that's probably about it.
Good but not great!