Alan Wake’s American Nightmare


When we were developing Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, the scope of the game was not clear until months before release. It started as the Special Edition of Escape from Butcher Bay with high-resolution art and a multiplayer mode, then we added another chapter with a few hours of single-player gameplay which got expanded to a really long new chapter and after a few more times of expanding the scope we had enough content to call it a sequel. Now, constantly adding more things is economically smarter than the common practice of being overambitious and having to cut content – we could have stopped working at any time and still had something we could release. The problem is that since we were adding things without having a good sense of the size of the game, cohesion suffered and since we could not explore it to the depth we should have it sometimes felt like shallow tasks that were repeated.

While Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is intended to be short; an episode of the Outer Limits when the original game was a season of Twin Peaks, I get the same shallow feeling from it. Alan Wake was a mystery that only revealed small parts over the course of the game, not knowing how it would end for the most of it made it interesting. American Nightmare, on the other hand, reveals itself as a freakish scenario from the beginning (not unlike the DLC for the first Alan Wake) and after playing less than half of the game the rest of it feels pretty obvious.

It also feels distinctively cheaper. The large vistas, vehicle sections and spooky environments of Alan Wake are gone, and the presentation details that were not quite there before, the animations and voice acting, are even worse now. Overall, the game feels constrained and doesn’t do a very good job of hiding it.

It is a lot better than the DLC though. Gameplay is more solid than the first game, and the story does have some interesting details that could have been expanded upon to make a better game. Remedy are doing something that is fairly unique so it might be the case that they just haven’t find the right way of doing it yet. It wouldn’t be the first time an episodic game series increases dramatically in quality after the first few episodes, so I am keeping my hopes up.

3 Comments so far

  1. wisnoskij on April 12th, 2012

    You worked on Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena?

  2. Saint on April 12th, 2012

    I did. Although I was one of many so my opinion is by no means an absolute truth, and it is definitely not the official stance of any of the companies involved.

  3. wisnoskij on April 12th, 2012

    The original is one of my favourite games, and the movies are just as fantastic.

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Posted on Apr 11/12 by Saint and filed under Reflections | 3 Comments »