Alan Wake

 Alan Wake

Now, I really liked this game and I am not at all happy it’s over. Being a story of suspense it dragged on a bit towards the end (and in the DLCs) as most of the mystery had already been unraveled, but still – even though Alan Wake has been in development for at least 5 years, it was well worth the wait. Only downside is that there is nothing quite like it and it is said not to have done very well financially, so we might not see anything else like it.

What does worry me to some degree is why I like it as the gameplay elements are really nothing special. Your usual linear 3rd-person run-and-gun with some design issues making it feel unfocused, the fighting is of a very straightforward shoot-before-getting-shot- variety and the puzzles are rather mundane so for a seasoned gamer it doesn’t require much thinking. The DLCs have some interesting puzzles that turn popular concepts on their head, but most of the time the game is sticking to the basics of game design. Not particularly bad, but not very interesting.

Technologically , the game is a marvel on many levels and failing on a couple. The atmosphere built up by light, shadow and weather effects is astounding and Alan Wake sports an impressive breadth of features including large beautiful vistas, drivable vehicles and functional AI partners. The animations and player physics does not work quite as well as they should, but are seldom so bad they become more than an occasional annoyance.

No, what really sells the game for me is the story. It is an eerie piece that starts out with a mystery growing out of proportions, leaving you unsure of where it is going and what is true even once the game is over. The gloomy atmosphere together with the manuscript pages giving you hints of what is to come makes you ill-at-ease but hungry to find out more and besides some obviously non-canon references nothing ever derails the story and breaks the atmosphere. It also touches on some tough subjects regarding creativity and overall feels very mature compared to most other game stories.

In a way, it is a shame Alan Wake packs so much game in it when it could well be easier and accessible to people who would not normally appreciate games but might like it anyway. On the other hand, making it another Heavy Rain would probably diminish my own appreciation for it – perhaps I enjoy playing it because it is an engaging story in a familiar but nontrivial experience.

Posted on Nov 12/10 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »