Alan Wake Review *May Contain Spoilers*

When the Xbox 360 first came out I didn’t run out to buy it like everyone else because I know that with all new products there will be problems (i.e. Red Rings of Death).  So I waited a year and when I was asked which system I wanted as a gift, I started looking through the catalogs of games for the three systems, Wii, Playstation 3, and the Xbox 360.  They all had games I was interested in- Metal Gear Solid (PS3), anything Super Mario related (Wii) and Halo (XB360)- but the game that caught my eye was Alan Wake.

I have alway been a fan of this kind of game, spooky and eerie where you can just taste the character’s desperation to get to a safe location.  I had to have it, so I chose Xbox 360 and told my mommy I wanted Alan Wake. Too bad I wasn’t paying attention to the release date (yes, I’m a dumb ass.)  I waited and kept myself informed of all new game info, and after this long and arduous wait, I finally have it and the awesome Collector’s Edition, too.

Here’s the deal: Alan Wake is brought to us by Remedy, the makers of Max Payne.  It is the story of a best selling author who takes a trip to the supposedly serene town of Bright Falls with his wife to help him relax and hopefully get over his writer’s block.  Upon entering Bright Falls you get to meet the Oh Deer Diner waitress, over eager #1 fan Rose, the local DJ, the loveable Park Ranger, and a mysterious old woman in funeral garb.

Upon arriving at your personal Cauldron Lake hide-away, you can feel the isolation starting to set in.  Your cabin sits in the middle of a giant lake overlooked by mountains.  After a small fit with your wife, the real fun begins.  Straight out of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, you’re attacked while heading back to save your wife.  After a short cut-scene you wake up in the driver’s seat of your crashed SUV.  Hearing the your wife’s voice, you have to make your way through the dense forest to find help.

You never really get to start an episode with any supplies; you pretty much have to find the items to survive.  This can be a hassle, but at least it is explained every time you have to begin without equipment.  A really annoying problem is that you can never really tell where enemies are coming from.  Yes, before they attack there is a brief cut-scene, but after that you have to constantly spin around to make sure nobody is behind you.  The music pretty much stays creepy throughout the game, at least to the point where I am (I think episode 4).  It’s pretty cool to play at night in the dark with the surround sound on.  The characters are all so fully flushed out and vibrant; no two people are the same.  The controls can be a bit of a problem, but after playing for a while you get used to it, although the LB button should have only been used for one function not two.  The story has me completely enthralled, to the point of forgetting to take care of chores, taking the dogs (NPH and GOB) for walks, and completely ignoring my wife, but she’s used to that by now.  So far it’s a great game, and now I want to get back to it.

PROS:

  • The story is severely immersive.
  • The character designs and backstories are perfection.
  • Level design has a great balance of action, suspense and puzzles.
  • The episodic style is really cool and helps to remind the player of what has transpired when they have been away from the game for a while or have been playing other games.

Transition for episode to episode:

CONS:

  • No real indicator of where enemies are or where they are coming from.
  • The LB button shouldn’t have been used for both running and dodging.
  • Weapons could be more powerful, but I guess the somewhat lack of power helps the suspense of not knowing how long your ammo or your batteries are gonna last.
  • Needs a little more enemy variation.

All-in-all the game is definitely a must buy, with the television style format and the future episodes (DLC) planned (first one out July 28, 2010), this game is sure to keep you busy.  Remedy really knocked this out of the park, and was well worth the wait. Hopefully we won’t have to wait nearly as long as for a sequel and as I stated before, I really hope there are a lot of DLC’s for this title because unlike Modern Warfare 2, I will actually spend the money to get it.

Final Verdict:

4.5 out of 5