Alan Wake was originally announced for the Xbox 360 when the console itself was first announced, since then the game was hardly talked about until last year’s E3 where gameplay was finally shown and a release time frame was given. Now Alan Wake has been released, does it live up to the 4 or more years of hype?
The protagonist of the game Alan Wake starts the story off as a famous author who has had trouble writing for the past two years. The game begins with Alan and his wife arriving at a small town called Bright Falls, here Alan had been trying to get away from the stresses of his life and clear his mind. Unfortunately once they get to the small town Alan’s wife goes missing, and the hero of the game finds himself waking up from a car accident he doesn’t remember, on top of this he begins to discover the pages to a manuscript he doesn’t remember writing. Alan soon finds himself uncovering the mysteries of Bright Falls in an attempt to find his wife. While he looks for clues he is stalked by the “taken”, people who seemed to be possessed by the dark force that lives in the shadows of the small town. The only way to battle the dark beings is to use light in a variety of forms alongside the player’s limited supply of guns.
The basic gameplay mechanics are similar to that of any action adventure game, with the unique exception of the left trigger which controls your flashlight other than that players will get a good handle on Alan Wake’s controls. Most of the enemies the player will encounter will require the flashlight to “burn away” the darkness around them, once that’s done a few shots from Alan’s gun will take them down. The whole process of battling the Taken is done well so it never feels tedious or annoying. Other than flashlights and guns Alan also has access to flares which act as safety nets incase the enemies surround the player. Overall the basic gameplay mechanics are solid they’re a nice variation from the typical shooter but not too different so it doesn’t force players to learn a brand new gameplay style.
Graphics and presentation is where Alan Wake truly excels, this is arguably one of the best looking games in the current generation of consoles. Characters are detailed, their movements are fluid and they all feel like believable characters, however what really stands out in Alan Wake is the environment, during the day time the player will be able to see the mountains and forests of bright falls literally for miles several times through the game players will be tempted to just stop and enjoy the scenery. Even during the night when the your vision is limited you can still see far off into the wild, coupled with running rivers and waterfalls Alan Wake delivers some of the best nature scenes in any video game.
Sound is also done very well, the voice actors are very believable in the way they deliver their lines. Sound effects are also done well, in particular the sounds of the taken are creepy and fit in perfectly with the atmosphere the game creates. The music also stands out in Alan Wake the tune changes accordingly to the actions of the player and each episode at the end has a fully composed song that really adds to the TV show presentation.
One of the main features of Alan Wake is the story, above all else players will be driven to continue the game to see what happens to the hero and how he’ll solve the mysteries surrounding the town. The player will find a lot of answer by talking the town people but radio broadcasts from the local radio network will really give players a sense to the happenings of Bright Falls. Also there are TV broadcasts as well, similar to Twilight Zone episodes these shows depict stories of mysteries and strange happenings, overall it sets the mood for the game very well.
If there are any flaws in Alan Wake it’s perhaps the game could’ve offered more gameplay variety to players, at it’s core Alan Wake is still a third person shooter however unlike most other action games it has very limited arsenal. Also when enemies get too close players could find themselves trying to melee them back only to find that you can’t, this can get frustrating on the more difficult settings when the taken can surround you within seconds. The game does make up for this by giving the player flares to drop in front of them to scare of the enemies but you can easily run out if you’re fighting a particularly tough group. However these small points don’t take away from the experience, the developer has taken extra care in making sure that Alan Wake is great game to play through. Everything about Alan Wake achieves a high level of quality and detail, there are few games like Alan Wake to begin with but when you consider the particular effort put into the game and the unique experience it offers Alan Wake becomes a must buy for anyone who enjoys a good story and adventure.
[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]