Published on June 21st, 2010 | by prime0
Alan Wake – Review
Summary: Fantastic atmosphere, good story, but loses its way in the dark
Scriptwriting is one of the key talking points in gaming circles. The majority of gamers are demonstrably harsh on gaming dialogue and voice acting, usually because it’s awful. Sometimes though, this hatred can be misplaced. Remedy’s long-awaited, perennially delayed Alan Wake being one of them.
It’s easy to laugh at Alan Wake. It’s a stupid name for one, and he’s a fairly stupid guy. He’s a writer with a much-referenced obsession with Stephen King, and his constant soliloquies about his surroundings are as flat as some of the game’s more threadbare textures. To dismiss all of Remedy’s literary ambitions though, is to do the Finnish team a disservice.
Alan Wake, on a narrative level, actually tries to do something interesting. Much like Max Payne before it, Alan Wake is a pastiche executed with some skill. It cleverly plays with your expectations and preconceptions – and even with the medium itself – and while the consistency of the cast is a letdown, the yarn it spins isn’t.
Backing up this well-paced romp – and it is a romp, there’s very little here to be taken seriously – is an atmosphere that takes full advantage of its host technology to deliver something really quite unsettling. Without spoiling the story, Alan spends a lot of his time in the woods of Pacific town Bright Falls. At night. With a torch. And his not on best terms with the dark.
Machete-wielding shadow monsters hurl themselves at you from the jet-black shroud of the night, and they can only be stopped with a well-aimed torch beam and a few shots from your revolver. It’s a slick system, one that outperforms most of its survival horror brethren in its tactility.
Sadly though, by its final third, Alan Wake has lost its way. Later sections feel tacked on for pacing or padding, and the focus shifts from snappy storytelling to drawn-out, frustrating gun-battles. Only a fantastic last 20 minutes save it from the abyss, although the ending itself leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping for some conclusive downloadable content.
Still, regardless of how long it’s been in development and how stupid its name is, this is a supremely slick and thoroughly entertaining lark in the woods, and a refreshing change of pace on a console dominated by war. A happy ending after all.