Friday, June 15, 2012

Alan Wake: Still Good After 2 Years


Remember to bring extra batteries

I had no idea this crazy, amazing, terrifying story was sitting on my shelf, in the dark, waiting to be set free. It's one of those games that shows how incredibly engaging narrative can be in this art form. Alan Wake not only needs your attention, it deserves it.


Has a strong influence on the story

I'm continuing to work through my back catalog of unplayed/nearly-unplayed games. If I see a cool game I heard about on great sale, I'll pick it up to play later then prolly never touch it again. It's strange, the desire to collect. I decided it was time to crack open a classic. Alan Wake plays like a Stephen King novel come to life in the town of Twin Peaks. Shit, this game is so heavily influenced by King it opens with a quote of his. A writer has, gasp, writer's block and needs to get away from the big city to get the creative juices flowing again. Only this small town is quickly besieged by an ancient evil that is spreading darkness everywhere and Alan is right at the core of it. While the gameplay is very tight, albeit unforgiving at times, it's the story where Alan Wake shines. Each chapter is presented with an opening and closing sequence, much like a TV show. They even recap what happened in the previous chapter for you, which is great if you only play for small chunks at a time. The characters are incredibly well developed and have actual motivations for their actions. The voice acting is top notch even thought the lip sync is poor. Story keep getting darker and darker and more complex as the game progressed. For those looking for even more atmosphere there are manuscript pages scattered throughout the world that help flesh out some secondary characters, wonderful audio exchanges from a local radio station, and on TVs in the game world you'll find NightSprings a fake show that is a total homage to The OuterLimits.


I watched them all and loved it

You frequently find yourself running through the woods at night or some other creepy location at night, always at night. There are very few daytime sequences because the mechanics of the game reply on you needing to use your flashlight to burn off the protective "darkness" covering the once normal hunters and denizens of Bright Falls before you blast their fucking brains out with your pistol or shotgun. The joy of lobbing a flash grenade into a large crowd of creepers and watching them vaporize is pretty amazing. But, we are missing the absolute terror this game can instill.


Me playing this game at night

This is a game that should be played at night, lights out, headphones on. The audio is, again, top notch and really helps draw you into the environment. When trying to escape the forest, you only have your flashlight to find your way and I was certain something was stalking me out there as I heard footsteps and voices behind me constantly. You are taught by the game that light is safety and if you are in the light you cannot be hurt. Sometimes you need to start up a generator to get electricity to a light pole as the Taken get closer and closer. I had moments where I ran to a light trying to escape a large group only to have the light blow out and another group of Taken come stumbling out of the darkness looking to kill me. It's not a game of shock scares like DeadSpace, no it's much more patient, slowly drawing you in more and more until the slightest sound has you flipping around and pointing your flashlight into the night sure that you heard something.


What is light without darkness?

This was one of the best games I've ever played. Alan Wake is a clear example of where games can take us that no other art form can. A riveting, cinematic experience where at the end of each chapter I felt anxious to find out what happens next. I look forward to getting around to the new American Nightmare DLC. Maybe when Alan Wake 2 comes out I'll post about that 2yrs later as well.

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