A new series here at Obsolete Gamer where we hope to spark comments and debate on a wide arrange of topics. Various writers from Obsolete Gamer will give you their take (opinion) on a subject and we hope you will weigh in even if you completely disagree with us.
Alan Wake is a survival horror game that attempts to mix in more of the serialized television feel to its game. What this means is the game also plays like episodic television in which each level beings an episode. Besides the action or important parts of the game you will also have some areas where you just walk around doing mundane tasks and it does add to the “show” feel more than if they were just cut-scenes.
You play as Alan Wake a famous writer that while on vacation in a small-town called Bright Falls is thrown into a mystery and a horror story involving his wife, his past and present works and a creepy town history that can give Silent Hill a run for its money.
The game itself has the feel of a Silent Hill as you are just a normal guy who all of a sudden has to go all Alone in the Dark, carrying a flashlight to fight of shadow monsters called “Taken” you also become proficient in hand guns, shotguns, hunting rifles, flash bangs, flares, flare guns and the use of batteries.
Now there have been tons of reviews on the game so I won’t go to much deeper into that aspect. Here is my take and there may be some spoilers so you are forewarned.
The game is well done, let me start with that. Sure, there are some clipping issues sometimes and the camera can spin you in an awkward direction and there are a few other tidbits, but I can deal with that. One of the problems I had was the game was too easy in one respect and then difficult in another. If you have ever played any third person game like a Silent Hill or Resident Evil then the normal difficulty with be a joke. Pretty much you will never run out of ammo except one very small part of the game and you can kill almost anything with the handgun alone.
Speaking of ammo, one thing that pissed me off about Alan Wake is the need to always find a way to make you lose your weapons and gear. Again, in the normal difficulty you will always have enough weapons and batteries, but almost every time you finish an “action” area you fall or trip or donate your weapons to Toys for Tots and you start the next “action” area with almost nothing.
If you play like me, in a survival horror game some of the keys to winning is to conserve ammo and run from a good number of your enemies, but in Alan Wake if you conserve ammo you just end up wasting it. As for running from enemies, unless you are near a strong light source it is a waste of time because many enemies can just appear behind you or they run super-fast and as a writer you have never hit the gym so you can’t sprint very long.
Speaking of running, let’s take a break and talk about puppies. What, you don’t want to talk about puppies in the middle of an Alan Wake rant? Too bad because my puppy rant might contain useful information about Alan Wake, but you have to listen for up to ten minutes or no achievement for you.
In a nutshell that is how I view the watching of the Night Springs television show that you can watch in game. Night Springs is a Twilight Zone rip-off show that you can watch on many of the televisions in game. The problem is twofold. One, for the most part you don’t need to watch the Night Sprints shows for anything other than an achievement. Two, when you are being chased down and are in the middle of intense action it makes no sense to spend up to ten minutes watching a badly made in game show that does nothing for you. The same applies for the radio. Sure, the radio show gives you some current information and town info, but again, it is long and doesn’t really help you in the game and takes you out of the moment.
Another take you out of the moment comes from chasing down manuscript pages. Now to be fair, this is part of the story and the more you collect the more you understand about what is happening to you and even what will happen. The problem is in most of the action sequences you need to keep moving. When you are being chased by the cops and the taken at the same time it is just silly to stop and search that mountain in the distance for a book page. Also, if you miss some pages it can be really hard to understand what you are reading and it doesn’t help you that much really.
How about some coffee? Writers love coffee and there are 100 coffee thermos’s throughout the game you find just for an achievement, but again, it takes you out of the action and does nothing for you. I will admit sometimes it was cool to grab some coffee while shooting a taken in the face, but when you need to run and gun it just kills the mood to go foraging for your Starbucks coffee carrying device.
As for the story, you will either love it or hate it and don’t expect the ending to wrap everything up nicely. In the age of downloadable content the idea is to extend the story by making you shell out points (money) to buy more episodes until Alan Wake 2 comes out.
I would not have purchased this game personally, this is a rental. I could have beaten this game in a day and playing on nightmare mode is only for achievements. If you play on Normal and have ever played any shooting or survival horror game you will be bored as the monsters are easy to kill, you have to much ammo and the only way they can even hit you is to sneak up on you from behind and try to surround you gangbang style.
The story was meh and I am not paying for your DLC to finish a story you should have in the first place. I care about story and history and this and that, but in a run and gun game I don’t want to watch television shows, listen to down home radio or read about how the great red oak tree was hit by lighting in 1834.
Alan Wake is like playing an Outer Limits episode, but not a very good one. Take Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark and that Darkness game put it together and you still have a game that will put you to sleep not keep you A.Wake.
So that’s my take, what’s yours?