Alan Wake always comes up in top games to play lists when I look for games to get during Steam sales. I was never really into the look of the game or the gameplay, but the Control AWE (Altered World Events) DLC is out and I wanted some context to Alan Wake’s story.
That DLC is heavily related to Alan Wake and the full game was now on my Microsoft Game Pass list. Some games like Control take an hour or two to get into, but this one had me almost right away. Even more impressive, I enjoyed it right after playing a heavy hitter like Cyberpunk 2077.
Alan Wake Gameplay
Early on, I entered a dream sequence that also acted as a tutorial. Movement was pretty standard, even the dodge mechanic. A successful dodge will trigger a slow motion camera which was cool (not surprising from Remedy, the same studio that worked on Max Payne).
Light is Your Best Friend
I learned that light is your friend. A street lamp can save you from people that are consumed by the darkness that serves as the main enemy of the game. It can also heal you when injured.
Running out of ammo can and will happen, so it’s tense running and dodging to the next light source. It’s more fun than frustrating.
When it comes to fighting those possessed by the darkness, they can only be damaged in the light. This is where the trusty flashlight came in. Shining the light on them starts a countdown to them being stunned by the light. The light can be boosted to speed up that countdown, while draining the battery faster.
I spent a lot of time balancing the loading of new batteries, while also loading weapons.
Weapons and Scarce Ammo
On that subject, the trusty revolver can be used to injure enemies stunned by the light. It must be reloaded at regular intervals, but I had the option to tap the R button to reload faster. Later on, I even picked up a shotgun to do more damage to more of the shadow people.
The game manages to balance the need for ammo and batteries well, without becoming frustrating. It’s a fun challenge. There’s a typical action button to pick things up and interact with the environment also. There are just enough environmental puzzles to keep things interesting.
At various parts of the game, I had access to vehicles to drive at night and during the day. It was usually short drives with things blocking the road to force me back on foot.
At night, the headlights can be used like the flashlight to stun enemies, allowing me to destroy them by hitting and running them over with the car or truck. It was a lot of fun taking them out from the safety of the vehicle. It’s also a great way to conserve ammunition
The game is old, like 2012 old, but it did get a visual update when it was ported to PC. Still the models are blocky and textures can be bland. The lighting is pretty good with all the different light situations. The fog is definitely quality enough to help set the mood while venturing through locations at night.
At night and during the day, the water and mountains look surprisingly good for an older game. The view distance is pretty decent and immersive in the wilderness of Bright Falls. The models for some of the locations, like the clinic, are really well done, as well.
A really comical part of this ported game are the cutscenes. It’s one of the few games where the cutscenes actually look worse than the gameplay. It doesn’t take away from the story, but can be a little visually jarring.
Alan Wake Story
Alan Wake’s story is great. The whole point of going to Bright Falls with his wife Alice, was so that Alan could overcome his bout of writers block. They were to stay at a secluded cabin, but things start to get weird when you end up at the wrong place.
Is Alan Wake’s Wife Dead or Missing?
Alice is deathly afraid of the dark and ends up getting capture by the darkness that haunts the cabin at Cauldron Lake. Alan Wake tries to save her, but ends up in a crashed car wandering through the woods. No memory of how he got there.
The goal is to find a way back to town and find out what happened to Alice. Things get really crazy when the Cabin at Cauldron lake is no longer there. It just disappeared and leads to everyone suspecting Alan of murdering his wife.
I spent my playtime running from and fighting people possessed by darkness, then also running from the cops and the FBI. Twists and turns later lead to me chasing after a supposed kidnapper who claimed to have Alice.
Maybe Alan Wake is Actually Crazy
After jumping through tons of hoops, I found he didn’t have Alice and Alan ended up in a mental clinic in Bright Falls. The game does a great job making you think maybe you are crazy. Things really go crazy from there with the whole clinic consumed by darkness and only the plucky agent Barry there to help Wake.
There’s enough people to chat with to keep things from getting too lonely out in the dark. Alan Wake’s narration fills in the other quiet times. The characters don’t always have to be listened to, but they help advance the story. TVs and Radios also fill in some of the story (complete with the Twilight Zone knock off, Night Springs).
The game really plays like a book with Alan as the writer and the protagonist. Pages of a manuscript that he wrote are scattered throughout the maps. Reading those pages reveal events that have happened in Bright Falls and those that have yet to happen.
Alan recognized it as his writing style, but had no memory of writing it. This will be one of the mysteries to unravel throughout the game.
The game also has a Netflix episode style. There are 6 main episodes and 2 special features. At the beginning of each episode, it gives you a weakly series style recap of what happened in last episode.
The Alan Wake gameplay playtime is supposedly around 10 hours, so I plan on finishing by the end of the next post. I don’t like to read, but I imagine the feeling I get playing this game is the same as an avid reader who can’t put a book town. Play it if you haven’t already.