Alan Wake: Exploring A Cult Classic

Alan Wake, the psychological action adventure thriller cult classic; developed by Remedy Entertainment and released in 2010 for the Xbox 360.  Remedy Entertainment is also responsible for titles such as the Max Payne series or more recently Quantum Break. I bought Alan Wake for dirt cheap on Steam during a sale a while back and like most games purchased during steam sales, I had every intention of playing it someday. It wasn’t until recently when I heard the news that the game was going to be disappearing from stores due to a music licensing issue did the game manage to worm its way back to the forefront of my long list of games I want to play. So I figured it was about time I do just that; experience what Remedy had to offer while simultaneously finding out for myself why this game has the dedicated following it’s managed to cultivate over the years.

Story

Alan Wake

 

Aptly named Alan Wake tells the story of best selling thriller novelist, Alan Wake, as he tries to uncover the truth behind of the disappearance of his wife and at the same time get to the bottom of what’s really going on in the small town of Bright Falls. Unable to overcome his two year stretch of writer’s block Alan decides to take the advice of both his wife, Alice and his agent Barry Wheeler to go on vacation. The couple decides to stay at a cabin in the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington. As they start to settle in at their cabin Alice reveals the real reason she wanted to bring Alan here was to see a local psychologist name Dr. Hartman in order to help with his writer’s block.

Of course, this doesn’t go over too well with Alan who then storms out of the cabin to be alone and cool off. Shortly after leaving Wake hears the screams of his wife coming from inside the cabin and immediately runs back inside to investigate. Wake hastily makes his way it back indoors only to see his wife being dragged outside and down into the lake by some unknown force. Without hesitation, Alan jumps in after her but quickly succumbs, to the same supernatural force as he rapidly loses consciousness. After regaining his sensibility he wakes up alone, disoriented and in the aftermath of a car crash with a week of time unaccounted for. Alan’s focus promptly becomes figuring out why he has no memory of the past week and what exactly happened to his wife Alice.

Going into this game I had zero expectations or knowledge as to what kind of game Alan Wake was. Being able to play the game blind allowed me to draw my own thoughts and opinions ultimately leading to a pleasant first play-through of the game. The story of Alan Wake is one I found to be both engaging and enjoyable. I would often find myself stumbling through the dark low on ammo and batteries excited to get to the next cut scene in order to obtain some answers as to what was going on. This is something I personally value the most in a single player game. If I don’t find the narrative fascinating enough it’s hard for me to want to get through a game. For me, the story is the reward you get after putting in the time and effort of playing through each part of the game and the tale of Alan Wake was one that was worth it to me.

 

Gameplay

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In addition to a substantial story; Alan Wake contains some solid game play as well. The flashlight mechanic was something that I really enjoyed. I was a huge fan of the way it was implemented into the game. Instead of having the player rely solely on guns to survive like most games, the flashlight becomes just as important. You see in order to defeat the enemies in this game you must first weaken them with the light before you can hurt them directly. This lead to plenty of oh shit moments where you find yourself low on batteries and scrambling to find a source of light to survive. Keeping your flashlight full with batteries is as equally important as finding ammo for your weapons. This adds the thriller aspect of the game as you feel you can absolutely die if you aren’t careful.  Luckily this game rewards players who go off the beaten path and explore the nooks and crannies with items and weapons in order to get through the night.

That all being said something I found annoying was some of the fights in this game can feel a little unfair at times. There are moments where you get swarmed with multiple enemies that can stun lock you with melee hits and swing faster than you can recover. There were plenty of times I was killed simply because I couldn’t move to defend myself. Also, I can’t explain to you how frustrating it was trying to evade a possessed vehicle while constantly being hit by other enemies. Fortunately, there are only a few of these types of encounters throughout the game. Other than that I found no other major game play issues.

 

Closing Thoughts & Opinions

 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent playing Alan Wake. I can absolutely see why people vouch for this game so much. I definitely in good faith can recommend you trying out this game especially considering how dirt cheap it is everywhere. It only took me about 8 hours to complete the game so it’s not a huge commitment like most games days these days.

 

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