Implayed (Episode 9): Alan Wake

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It was a long time since Remedy Entertainment put out another game, their last title being the wonderful Max Payne 2. Seven years, to be exact (9 if you count the fact that it’s been out on PC since last year). That’s a long time to wait for one title to come out, and Alan Wake shows it. The game oozes polish out of every dark pore of its being.

But.

And there’s a pretty big But. But it’s a good But. The game’s not mainstream! For all of its polish and high budget and voice acting and everything else, it’s not another mainstream FPS or floppity flop MMO or YAS (yet another sequel). It was a wholly new IP, and one that was about a writer, no less. Sure he’s a best-selling author and he can handle a gun, but he’s no hardened military man, or gangster or hero of whatever empire you uphold the honour of. Mister Wake is actually a bit of a jerk with a quick temper and a wife with a terrible fear of the dark.

It’s rather refreshing really. The moment when you get to the idyllic town of Bright Falls, Washington marks a great beginning that is hard to forget. It’s beautiful. It’s also the setting for the game’s main gameplay. Despite Alan Wake being a psychological thriller at heart, Alan can defend himself from the darkness-corrupted Taken, the enemies of the game, by flashing a light in their eyes until it’s safe to shoot their heads off. It’s not a particularly novel approach when it comes to basic battle mechanics, but when have you last used a flashlight to battle monsters?

The beam of light counts as  your crosshairs.

The beam of light counts as your crosshairs.

The atmosphere is heavy. That’s probably the best word to describe it. It’s smoky, it’s claustrophobic, it’s deep, it’s cutting – it puts you on edge whenever the story puts you in a night-time setting.

It’s a book made manifest. Literally so. You play through the book that Alan himself writes, but cannot remember. His inner monologue, the setting, everything, everything screams “novel” to me. The book kind of novel. It feels the other kind of novel too, though.

The game is polished to a shine. The only thing I could fault, really, is the fact that the faces look a bit odd sometimes.

The verticality adds mystery and intimidation.

The verticality adds mystery and intimidation.

I don’t know, I feel like I’m gushing a little bit too much here, but Alan Wake is a quality game you should play. I liked it. You probably will too. Let it be known though, I did not love it. I think that it lacks that one particular thing. That flash. That spark if you will. Who knows though, it might have the spark for you.

It’s 28 Euros on Steam. I guess I got lucky when I got it from a Humble Weekly.

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