- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Remedy Entertainment
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
- Genre: Third-Person-Shooter / Horror
- Pros: Episodic presentation; pretty graphics; excellent sound with great music; solid story; scary fun
- Cons: Gameplay plateaus way too early; final episode too combat heavy; debatable replay value
Story and Setting
The story is told in a series of six episodes that are meant to mimic TV dramas like 24 and Lost. Each episode starts with a "Previously On Alan Wake" recap and ends with theme music, just like a TV show. Each episode is laid out like a real TV show, with typically slow beginnings leading up to a climax and then some sort of either partial resolution or some new revelation that leads into the next episode. It gives Alan Wake a very distinctive feel. It also makes for a convenient way to potentially expand the story later. Remedy has stated that Alan Wake is really the first season of the "show", and while the story does reach a fairly satisfying conclusion there are still plenty of plot threads that could be further explored in future episodes.
To fight back, Alan's first and best weapon is light. Light burns away the darkness surrounding the Taken and makes them vulnerable to gunfire. Your flashlight is always on but can be boosted to be more effective by holding the left trigger. This drains the batteries, however, so the game is a constant struggle to find more batteries so you can keep fighting. Other light sources such as portable work lights, street lights, and other such things dot the levels as well that you can use to make a temporary safe haven.
When you have burned away the darkness with light, you can then shoot the Taken with a pistol, shotgun, or hunting rifle. Aiming is very simple and easy as Alan will shoot wherever his flashlight is pointing. After a few shots, the enemy is gone and fades away. More powerful enemies are introduced through the game, but the process of beating them is always the same.
You do get the chance to drive vehicles now and again, but the controls aren't stellar and there is usually only ever one place to go anyway.
These collectibles are laid out right in front of you a lot of the time, but there are a handful in each episode you have to travel off the beaten path to find. Each level is laid out in a linear sort of corridor through the woods, but sometimes that corridor might be a hundred yards wide with the main path in the middle. What is interesting is that there isn't actually all that much stuff really hidden. I'd say 95% or more of the collectibles are out in the open and easy to find. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll find everything on your first trip through the game, however, because you'll probably be spending most of your time running scared out of your mind from light source to light source.