View Full Version : "The genre is changing... It's turning into a horror story." No, just cheap scares

Splatterer Ross
07-08-2010, 09:26 AM
Okay, this thread doesn't really have to do with the quote in the title specifically, just thought it fit.

Alright, what this thread is really about is how the game scares you, and how that changes over the course of the game. I might write in one or two spoilers without even realising it, so be warned.

The beginning of the game (The nightmare, Diner, Getting to the cabin), really wasn't that scary. It obviously isn't supposed to be. Except one part, and everybody reading this probably knows what part I'm referencing. The first time you see the Dark Presence, near the toilets. It looked like the eyes were literally falling out of her head! But the story hasn't really even started yet..

When Alice was taken, truth be told, I was pretty creeped out. I stood outside of the cabin for a good 10 seconds before finally venturing forth. But that might just be me, I always hesitate about entering dark buildings with somebody screaming for help inside ;). But seriously, this is what I really, really, loved about the game. Second-guessing myself, wondering what could be around the corner, being scared to check around the corner.. just always having to be on my toes. What really kept me engrossed in the game for hours on end was stuff like the forest section in Episode 2. That part was, in my opinion, one of the high points of the game, just because you never really knew what was behind those trees, or what was in that cabin, or who was behind you. Always on your toes. The trees even seemed to lean over me at times, shutting me in, creating a sense of claustrophobia. The visions Alan had of the Dark Presence were a lot fewer and a lot farther in between, making them a lot more unexpected and powerful. It seemed like you were actually in danger at times as well, where power weapons like hunting rifles and shotguns were also few and far between. Heavy-Duty lanterns were a thing of pure fantasy and myth at the time. Overall, the game was thrilling, challenging, and kept the gamer on it's toes.

Thats how the games atmosphere stayed for awhile, until around Episode 5. Thats when I really noticed a change in the game. In how the game tried to scare the players, or didn't even try at all. Episode 5 wasn't scary at one bit. I played through it going from mass of Taken to the next mass of Taken getting my collectables along the way. Could've been scarier really, especially with the elevators and the tornado and all that. Could've been so much more than it was.

On to what I really was annoyed/disappointed by... Episode 6. This is where the game just got annoying. The visions came literally every 10-15 minutes, and it was always the same. The game resorted to cheap scares showing the same clip of Alice being pulled down by the Dark Presence. Then it would probably flash Barbara's face to try to get a quick jump scare. It got to the point where I actually started writing multiple paragraphs about it and am sacrificing sleep because I'm just so God damn disappointed. The terror was completely gone from the story too, with flares, flare gun ammo, hunting rifles, pump-action shotguns, everything, just lying around. Two packs of shotgun ammo at every safe haven. I know it's on normal, but still. I can completely understand how the visions would come in increasing numbers, as would the Taken, as the Dark Presence got desperate to be rid of Wake, but really, I'm sure they could've made more than one repeated vision over and over again. The hordes of Taken (who are kind enough to come in small waves) just put an axe through the dying atmosphere. Like hot plasma through a neutrino. It just destroys it, it turns Alan Wake from being the ordinary guy fighting for his life that the writer wanted him to be, to being some sort of action hero armed to the teeth who just cant be taken down. There's really not much else to say. I love the game, I think the story is one the best this year, but I'm just disappointed with how the thrilling atmosphere and second-guessing turned into cheap scares and being armed to the teeth in Episode 6.

Anybody else feel this way at all?

07-08-2010, 02:39 PM
I suppose that a lot of what I write here will probably be spoilers too.

I've played through the game twice so far, (on the last leg of my Nightmare run now) and I'd certainly agree that a lot of the suspense and scary atmosphere drops away around episode five, but personally I didn't have too much of a problem with that. Particularly with episode five, where you spend most of the episode with Sarah and Barry. Earlier episodes were a lot more intimidating (episode two does this the best) because for the most part you are alone.

Sure, I think that travelling through Bright Falls alone in the night would have been fantastic, but with Sarah, and later Barry, it worked in a different way. I felt like a badass throughout that episode, there was a bit of comfort knowing Sarah's infinite ammo was there to back you up. After four chapters of generally fighting alone, having an aide was a welcome break, and in a way it made the episode more memorable.

However I wouldn't say all of the horror was gone from that chapter. The church basement gave me chills, most notably. The Mayor's office was also somewhat creepy. Probably not enough at this point, though, but I suppose its very subjective here.

With episode six, have you tried going for the Gunless Wonder achievement? I went for it on my first playthrough, and boy did it make that episode far scarier. And its better if you're going for this achievement on the first run, because you have no idea exactly where you're going or when a group of Taken will show up. Relying on a few flashbangs and my ability to run screaming in terror was, well, terrifying! So my opinion of episode six is quite different to yours. Of course, the second time I played through that episode, it certainly wasn't as intimidating, so I'll agree with you on that.

Since you mentioned a few parts that you found scary or creepy, I thought I'd add a few of my own. First, I agree with chapter two, I was still so new to the game and anytime an enemy showed up I almost fell off the couch. The forest was so brilliantly eerie and frightening, I loved it. A few times in the earlier episodes when I was going for hidden chests that were off the path, I was really spooked too, when the wind would pick up and the trees would sway violently. Sometimes a few Taken would jump out and attack (again, I'd fall off the couch) and othertimes they wouldn't, which really had me on edge. Nightmare mode also makes things far more tense, enemies take so many bullets to kill I often panic about my ammo supply. In terms of characters, Barbara Jagger definitely gave off eerie vibes, and Tom in the old diving suit was initially somewhat frightening too, if only because it was so weird. To me though, what was really creepy was the ending. Alice is alone at Cauldron Lake, Rose seems to be the new lady of the light, Nightingale seems to have been taken by the Dark Presence, and the mysterious Mr. Scratch has apparently taken Alan's position in the real world. It was a mixed sense of depression and horror, wondering what would become of Alan, which really has me anxious for the DLC.

I think I've implied that what scared me the most were the instances where things burst out of bushes and attacked you, which I suppose is partially true, but it was really the atmosphere, particularly in the earlier episodes, that was so enthralling and somewhat terrifying, and really made me love this game. In the end, I agree with you that the focus shifts dramatically in the last two episodes, but I wasn't so off-put by it.

That's, wow, quite a long post I've made. I hope it makes sense.