It has come to my attention that many gamers did not get the chance to to play Alan Wake. The game just sort of flew under the radar for most gamers, and I feel it’s because of the stiff competition the game faced around it’s launch window.
Among them were:
- Modern Warfare 2: Stimulus Package – 4th of May
- Lost Planet 2 – 18th of May
- Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands – 18th of May
- Red Dead Redemption – 18th of May
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 – 23rd of May
Alan Wake was released on May 18 2010, against many well known established gaming companies. It was a new IP surrounded by highly-anticipated sequels. This made it very easy for gamers to overlook at the time. I myself was faced with the same dilemma, which was to walk into my local store and have to make the choice between Rockstar Games’ brand new title Red Dead Redemption, Nintendo’s Super Mario Galaxy, or this interesting new game titled Alan Wake by Remedy (which I had never heard of). I was one of the very few who chose Alan Wake over the other two heavy-hitters. To this day I am still glad I made that decision, because little did I know that I was in for one of the most visceral and satisfying gaming experiences of my life.
The Game starts off in a dream Alan is having, or shall I say it was a nightmare created by his own mind. In this dream he encounters a character from book he currently writing. The character mocks him. He pokes fun at his writing abilities, while simultaneously wielding an axe he is trying to sink into Alan’s face. Your first task is to get to the lighthouse. Immediately, the tone is set by Alan’s Narration throughout the dream. as you make your way to the lighthouse you encounter a couple tutorials that help you get a feel for the game. The first thing that jumped out at me was the absolutely stellar sound. Everything sounded so crisp and so clear. I firmly believe that in gaming the best way to frighten your audience is with superb sound, and this game does that and it does it well. Often throughout the game the ambiance sets the tone for what is to come. I still grow tense when I hear the Forrest start to stir and come alive in the game.
When the dream ends Alan wakes up in a car to his beautiful wife, Alice, who informs him they have arrived at their destination. When you step out of the vehicle you are greeted with the beauty that is Bright Falls, surrounded by mountains and pine trees; it surely is a sight to see. The fact that you are on a ferry coming into town adds to the quaintness of Bright Falls.
Shortly after your journey into town ends you find yourself in a old cabin in the middle of a lake. Your wonderful vacation comes to a complete halt when your wife Alice is taken from the cabin by some unknown demonic force from the lake. You wake up in a car wreck, later to find out you lost a full week of your memory. You awaken frantically and dismayed, trying to figure out how to find your wife. Whats worse is the cabin is gone, you don’t know whether you’re crazy, or if its some sort of conspiracy against you. The Rest of the game is narrated through manuscript pages that give you hints at what is to come. I found the manuscripts to be a great tool into delving deeper into the lore and stories of the people you encounter, overall adding to the character development of the game. When approached by these people you truly start to have a better feel for them and their motivations. I genuinely loved the characters in this game, and there are some truly great moments that will have you smiling ear to ear because of how well developed the characters are.
In so many moments I found myself literally laughing out loud at the how hilarious some of the characters really are. In fact, Alan Wake has some of the wackiest characters I’ve ever encountered in a game. In proper TV show fashion, there are moments during suspense and terror scenes that you simply can’t help but laugh at. Alan Wake is probably the first game to be presented in a TV show-like episodic format. And I don’t mean like Half-Life episodes. These segments draw inspiration from shows like Twin Peaks or The X-Files. At the end of each episode, I was met with a cliffhanger accompanied by some of the best music I’ve ever encountered in a video game. The Score is so carefully thought out that it really does take on a life of its own.
Some of the tracks in particular, like “The Old Gods of Asgard” tracks, were made especially for the game by the group Poets of The Fall. At the Beginning of each episode is a recap of previous events, just like you will find in your favorite shows today.
This really is a game of fine details. So much thought was put into the making of the game, it took Remedy a whopping 6 years to make it come to fruition, and it shows. There are so many Easter eggs to be found; everything from subtle nods to Max Payne, and odes to great films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, And Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. the Game really rewards you for exploring and taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers.
Alan Wake is genuinely one of the greatest Stories told in gaming. I honestly was surprised at many points in the story and constantly found myself fiending for the next episode. It’s very much like picking up a good book you can’t put down because you want to know what happens next. The Pacing of the game is brilliant. You’ll find yourself going through traumatic events, and shortly after getting moments of silence to yourself where you can just sit back and watch a television show like Night Springs. Drawing inspiration from the Twilight Zone series, Night Springs is a is a gem that you truly can’t pass up. If you don’t watch the TVs throughout the game, you’re doing it wrong. There is some great side content in the form of Night Springs.
Another hidden gem in the game is the radio. You can listen to the local radio station jockey Pat Maine, who takes calls from the locals and plays some truly awesome music at the end of his segments. I honestly found the voice from the radio to be soothing and give me a false hope of safety in dire times. It really is nice to hear a voice when you’ve been running for your life through the woods at night -scared. All these things add to the spectacular atmosphere of the game. Everything sounds like its alive: the ground beneath your feet, the creaking of wood floors, and then there’s the forest that screams, moans, and aches. I Strongly suggest you play this game with a good pair of headphones at night while you’re alone barricaded in your room. This is not a game you play around your friends. Take a couple hours to have some alone time with Alan Wake. You’ll thank me later.
By far the most pivotal part of Alan Wake for me personally comes in Episode 4 when you finally make it to The Anderson Farm. Here, you’ll engage in one of the most epic and satisfying moments in gaming; I kid you not. Words cannot describe the epicness that you will experience . I will refrain from going into full detail in fear of spoiling some of the fun, but truly this was a moment that will stay with me the rest of my life.
At the end of the game, you may be left wanting more, and you’re in luck. since you took so long to play the game there are now two DLC episodes that you can play. The First being The Signal, which is equally as well crafted as the previous episodes. And lastly there is The Writer, where Alan literally starts to go insane and the conclusion unfolds (therefore ending the game). I Would strongly recommend you get these episodes, seeing that they conclude the great story that is Alan Wake.
Remedy has created a masterpiece here and it is truly a crime if you haven’t played this game. To this day, Alan Wake goes down as one of the most under-appreciated games of all time. It didn’t see real success until it hit Steam on the PC years later. And only then was Remedy able to recuperate the money it put out to make the game. To play this game is truly an experience one you won’t soon forget , so please do yourself a favor and Play Alan Wake. There’s a pretty high chance that you’re going to love it. If you’re afraid of the game being slightly aged, I encourage you to play it on the PC. Even by today’s standards, the game looks and sounds great on the PC. Also if you can use a gamepad the controls are best suited for the Xbox 360 controller. When you are controlling things like the flashlight it comes more natural with a joystick.
So that’s my ode to one of the best games I have ever played in my life as a gamer. Sure, the game has its quirks. No game is truly perfect. But this is a game worth playing and in its day there was nothing like it. To this day, that still stands true. This article has been brewing inside me for some time now, and I just had to get it off my back. I sometimes find it hard to put into words how I feel about something. Sometimes i find it hard to even remember the details. But deep down I remembered how this game made me feel. That’s what drove me to write this and that’s why I’ve decided to give the game another play through so that I could attempt to share with all of you an experience I hold close.
I only hope you all see the beauty in this game and why there is nothing else like it. It’s very rare these days to see games so original, games that break the mold of mediocrity, games that stay with you and inspire you. So please take a moment, put some time aside, borrow the game, buy it! Do whatever needs to be done, this is a game that’s worth your time. Enjoy…
And while you’re at it, check out the prequel/live action episodes called “Bright Falls.” They were executed very well in my opinion. The video below is all the episodes mashed into one. It’s about 30 minutes long, so grab some popcorn!
Here’s the direct link to Alan Wake in the Steam Store if you would like to purchase it now: