View Full Version : Reviews: Alan Wake

05-05-2010, 07:19 AM
Alan Wake begins with a quote by Stephen King: "Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there's little fun to be had in explanations; they're antithetical to the poetry of fear." The line is spoken by the protagonist, novelist Alan Wake, and it's hard to imagine a more appropriate opening. It's a game spent in search of explanations, answers to the puzzling questions put forth by its narrative. It's a very simple, effective hook -- an author's horror thriller is coming to life. The twist? He doesn't remember writing it.

It's a great setup, but, as any writer well knows, it's the follow-through that's important. Without something to keep the reader engaged (or player, in this case), a story is doomed. As someone who has eagerly anticipated Alan Wake since its announcement nearly five years ago, I can say -- with some relief, if I'm being honest -- that Alan Wake will hook you to the end.
Gallery: Alan Wake

It begins simply enough. Alan and his wife Alice are on a much-needed vacation. Bestselling author Wake has contracted a severe case of writer's block, thus inspiring the vacation away from the hustle and bustle of New York with his wife. What better place, then, than Bright Falls, Washington, an idyllic little town on the northern Pacific coast? Of course, things aren't quite what they seem and, before long, Alice goes missing and Alan blacks out, subsequently waking up in a wrecked car and missing an entire week of memories. What's more, Alan discovers pages from a new manuscript, one he doesn't recall writing. Even stranger, the words on the pages are coming true, effectively making Alan a character in his own story, a story of the emerging darkness in Bright Falls.

I don't dare reveal any more here, but suffice it to say that the story -- which would be strong enough to easily carry a movie or television series -- is the strongest feature of Alan Wake. The developers at Remedy obviously knew this, as the game is structured into six self-contained episodes, complete with a quick "Previously on Alan Wake" montage at the beginning of each one. The episodic structure is integral to the experience, ending every episode (sometimes literally) with a bang and effectively punctuating each arc of the story. Thankfully, you don't have to wait a week to see the next episode, you just have to hit the B button.

The characters -- even the minor ones -- are well-written, memorable and, most importantly, backed by excellent voice actors. My favorite character is probably Alan's agent, Barry, a New Yorker who shows up in Bright Falls wearing hiking boots, a Hawaiian shirt and a ridiculous, puffy orange jacket -- an outfit I assume he deems appropriate for the Northwestern US. Each character feels very real, so it's unfortunate that the models themselves look dated. They also suffer from occasionally horrendous lip syncing, at times making them look more like marionettes than people.

Barry Wheeler, a lovable oaf if ever there was one

Sticking with the writing motif, Alan actually narrates the game as it's happening, offering insights to the story and clues as to what the player should do next. You'll also collect manuscript pages scattered throughout each episode, each of which can be read on the spot. The page collecting mechanic is particularly addictive, as each page provides information on what the other characters are up to. They also subtly foreshadow events to come, providing even more reason to push forward. When, for example, a page described another character being attacked, I know I was always motivated to get a move on.

Of course, no story is complete without some obstacles, and Alan encounters plenty. First and foremost are the Taken, townspeople who have been possessed by the darkness pervading Bright Falls. In order to take them down, Alan must first bathe them in light, usually from a flashlight (though occasionally from other sources). Once the darkness is burned away, most of the Taken can be downed by a few bullets. It's a tense, well-constructed system that has you focusing the flashlight with the left trigger and firing with the right, occasionally cramming batteries into the flashlight when it runs out of juice.

Batteries are as important as ammunition in Alan Wake

The light mechanic also has the added benefit of turning fairly harmless implements like a flare gun or flashbang into weapons of mass destruction. The game relishes it, slipping into slow motion as a flare streams toward a horde of Taken, promising imminent and illuminating doom. Meanwhile, cars and trucks become light-powered battering rams.

Apart from the Taken, Bright Falls is also littered with several less deadly distractions. Exploration is almost always rewarded with manuscript pages, a television or a radio. The radio programs offer extra background on the story, while the televisions sport episodes of a fictional, live-action TV show. It's called Night Springs, an Outer Limits / Twilight Zone amalgam about -- if you can believe it -- a creepy town packed with paranormal activity. Even with the world falling down around Alan's ears, I couldn't help but stop to watch every episode I encountered.

Ultimately, Alan Wake is driven -- as is any good story -- by the impulse to see what happens next. It offers up a believable world, characters worth caring about, enjoyable combat and a narrative I wanted to follow. Just remember what Stephen King said about explanations, because you won't see all of your questions answered by the time Alan Wake comes to a close. That said, know you will be left wanting more.



I remember seeing this game five years ago and being excited and now it's here and so is my excitement.


N3xus Gam3r
05-05-2010, 07:23 AM
2 reviews readed today, both good.
I am Pre-ordering the game today, same with Red Dead: redemtion :)

but its gonna take my money :/

05-05-2010, 07:49 AM
Another preview

Good game


05-05-2010, 08:07 AM
FZ - 4/5

IGN - 9/10

Gametrailers - 8.6/10
wake/65250 (http://www.gametrailers.com/video/review-hd-alan-wake/65250)

Gamereactor - 7/10
Wake/ (http://www.gamereactor.se/recensioner/22243/Alan+Wake/)

05-05-2010, 08:21 AM

Both good and bad, overall, GOOD :)

05-05-2010, 10:02 AM
Last gripe: Alan Wake contains a distracting amount of product placement. Energizer brand batteries for your flashlight, we understand, but massive Energizer billboards in a tiny rural town? And an Achievement tied to watching a Verizon commercial on an in-game television? Sorry, Microsoft… we know this game took a long time to develop and you probably want to guarantee some kind of return on investment, but c'mon. This crosses a line.



05-05-2010, 11:13 AM
This and Red Dead, man I love the holy month of May!

05-05-2010, 01:26 PM
I will say one thing, while the reviews are for the most part generally positive, I do find the ones that give the game 6, 7, or 8 out of a score of 10 interesting, enlightening, and a nice divergence of points of view to say the least. I also find the constant bickering among the fanboys on said sites with said reviews even more entertaining. Why can't we just play games that we as gamers like and just get on with our lives? *Enter facetious and witty remark to such a obvious rhetorical question here.*

I for one will be looking for to this game now. I am glad I pre-ordered it.:)

05-05-2010, 01:52 PM
What The Critics Said




Alan Wake is definitely art, and is well written enough to keep my wife and I on the edge of our seats from beginning to end. If I can admit something, and give Alan Wake the biggest compliment I can bestow, I’d tell you that I had a nightmare about the game the night after I completed it. No horror game has ever managed that feat or even come close. It may have taken them five years to kick it out of the door, but Remedy has created a masterpiece.
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Planet Xbox 360

More than once Alan Wake reminded us of books, movies, and TV shows that we love and spend hours with every week; it helped merge the video game experience with those other memorable moments. For once a video game was able to show exactly what it means to create something that brings emotion to the gamer; on top of that Alan Wake was just damn fun to play.
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Computer and Video Games

While its not the generation defining game the epic development schedule might've hyped, Alan Wake is still a fantastic, 10-hour-plus play-it-on-the-couch linear action game - with brains required or not depending on your preference.
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Remedy and Microsoft haven't made a perfect masterpiece, but Alan Wake may well be one of my favourite releases of 2010 – an escapade I'm going to remember for a very long time. It's a stunning action game, a superbly scripted adventure and a technical showcase for the now-ageing Xbox 360 hardware.
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Alan Wake is finally here, and it's as good as we expected. Rich environments, great story, superb gameplay, many areas to explore, interesting characters... A great game that is not the ambitious project Remedy wanted it to be, but it's glorious anyway.
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Anything it could do to irritate the player is quickly made up for with a consistently striking character, intriguing cutscene, or thrilling stand-off against an encroaching force of possessed and gibbering mountain hicks. Alan Wake wears its own anomalous sense of style with pride and that alone earns enough credit to spend on inefficient dodging or unfair ambush attacks.
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Remedy's done a great job of mixing elements of written work, television, and videogames to create an experience full of scares, laughs, and thrills that's just as fun to play as it is to watch.
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Pelit (Finland)

If there were a game version of Twin Peaks, it would be Alan Wake. The great Pacific Northwest is a magnificently eerie backdrop for a horror story coming to life. It paces the combat and slower moments well, and it's nice not to have to fight every fight: running away works just as good. The overdone narrator voice gets annoying at times, but luckily Alan's musings lessen towards the end of the game. [May 2010]



Alan Wake paints a vivid nightmare that you won't soon forget. It's the freshest take on the horror game in a long time, and every moment feels like it was painstakingly scripted. There isn't much fluff here. That said, the game is lacking in the frills that we've come to expect from a triple-A release.
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Alan Wake is an emotionally engaging thriller from start to finish; and it's compelling, different and unique too. An excellent third person shooter in its own right, but not particularly frightening or memorable in any way.
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A challenging and genuinely frightening experience...As a survival horror, Alan Wake succeeds admirably, and comes highly recommended. But as a self-proclaimed "psychological action thriller", it falls short of its ambition.
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Alan Wake is not quite the revelatory experience we hoped it would be, but it’s a solid and entertaining game that’s rich in atmosphere, with good combat mechanics and an intriguing story.
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The game’s sense of scale is extraordinary and lovingly detailed. Not a single asset in any of the expansive episodic settings feels misplaced. At night, the mist, the shadows and the trees bleed together to create a game world that is equally beautiful and unsettling.
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If anything, Alan Wake reminds me of the first Uncharted. It is a great, but flawed work (hello ugly daylight, quirky animations, and a script that mocks the viewer even more than Lost or Twin Peaks) that lays the foundation for what could be an absolutely amazing follow-up. I just hope it doesn't take another five or six years.
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Eurogamer Spain

Alan Wake lacks that little spark of genious that distinguishes a good game from a masterpiece, an H.P. Lovecraft from your average Stephen King.
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It isn't perfect, but Alan Wake is a superb mystery that has plenty to offer. Gamers willing to put up with the minor inconsistencies will be rewarded with a rich narrative that's definitely worth experiencing.
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Giant Bomb

The game weaves a powerful narrative web around a core third-person action model that's largely satisfying even when its lack of variety becomes apparent in the later stages of the game. Even a thousand plaid-wearing axemen aren't enough to slow the driving momentum of these uncanny events, or make the game's foreboding forests one iota less unsettling.
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Games Radar (in-house)

Like slipping in and out of a nightmare, Alan Wake is a mixed experience. You'll adore the game's well-written characters and grow obsessed with the deeply intellectual story, but thanks to repetitive action and uninspired levels, reaching the end and solving the mystery can sometimes prove a bit tedious.
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BigPond GameArena

What Alan Wake is then is an outstanding piece of writing. The replayability will come from your drive to find all the manuscript pages you missed previously - you’ll need to put together each element of the story. You’ll want to just get lost in Alan Wake - and if you decide to pick it up, you’ll find it hard not to.
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Official Xbox Magazine UK

Alan Wake is a strange beast - a great story, told clumsily and strewn with odd characters saying vaguely unbelievable things in an earnest way that might or might not be a joke. However, as baffling as it can be, it really does hold its own, keeping you nervous, excited and rolling your eyes indulgently so regularly that it simply won't occur to you to stop playing.
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Gamereactor Sweden

Great eerie graphics and sound make for a chilling setting in Remedy's long-awaited psychological thriller. It's a shame the enemies are dull clones, that the gunplay gets old fast and that it never really gets scary.
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Alan Wake is an accessible, undemanding game with a neat combat mechanic and decent visuals. It's just not a very original game, it's certainly not an exceptional one, and it's a shame it wasn't ready a few years ago.
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05-05-2010, 02:12 PM
Very mixed critics indeed

05-06-2010, 08:06 AM
Red Dead, Lost Planet, Prince of Persia and Alan Wake coming out in May! Can't wait

05-06-2010, 01:44 PM
I'm not really convinced with this game. I think it might be just really over-rated. It seems too much like silent hill/Alone In the Dark/& Deadly Preminition. Plus, it isn't a sandbox game anymore like it was suppose to be early in development and I hate the "T" rating for a horror game! I'm also not too big on the whole idea or drenching the enemies in light before I can kill them. I don't know, maybe I am being to critical!?

BTW..I don't like the main character either "Alan". Just my opinion.;)

100% going to get Red Dead Redemption and Split/Second before this one!

Takamura Bear
05-06-2010, 11:03 PM
Hmm...It sounds like this game may not be worth the hype after all, judging from the mixed reviews.

I hope this is not the case but it was in development for so long that dissapointment was bound to happen.

Still, I'm keeping a close eye on this games as I still may purchase it.

05-08-2010, 12:50 AM
Been playing this and it has SOME atmosphere. Had about an hour of gameplay and it has plenty of "jesus what was that!" moments. Yeah at the moment I'd give it an 8.5/10. Graphically superb as well.