Review: Alan Wake: The Signal (Xbox 360)

Can Alan escape The Dark Place?

I really enjoyed Alan Wake. Its story kept me gripped to the very end, I even hunted down every coffee thermos, manuscript page and got every other achievement possible. But the one thing that annoyed me was the ending that seemed to leave the story on a cliff-hanger with Alan trapped in the Dark Place. It wasn’t until after that I realised that the story would continue through downloadable content packs, the first is The Signal and picks up straight after Departure.

Alan awakes to find himself in a twisted version of Bright Falls. The first place you go into is the diner where you first entered at the very beginning of the game and something isn’t right, peoples’ speech is distorted and in the men’s room you hear the familiar voice of Thomas Zane who tells you that you are heading deeper into the Dark Place before handing you a flashlight and handgun. Upon leaving, you are ambushed by the usual enemies but before you are warned by an extract reading from Wake himself.

The episode also returns with the written words that turn into objects by flashing your torch at them. Although this time some aren’t good words and can spawn enemies and even possessed objects, which are in big supply through the episode. As you go through it, you’ll recognise parts from the main game like the church and it’s basement, while exploring new areas and taking on a number of monster trucks.

There are 10 hidden clocks and a number of cut-out characters that you must find for achievements, as well as getting through the game in one sitting without dying once. I managed to get it on my second attempt, but it was touch and go throughout…it’s hard, especially with so many inanimate objects flying at you that can almost kill you in one blow. That being said, the episode is quite short…but it’s free for those who bought the game directly, but for those who got it second-hand, it’ll set you back 560 Microsoft Points. I personally think it’s not a bad price for what you get, plus 250 additional gamerscore up for grabs.

If there’s one complaint I have, it’s that the story doesn’t really push forward that much and ends up making you more confused than before. I suspect the second (and possibly, final) DLC “The Writer” will wrap things up neatly…or make it even more complex so they can answer everything in Alan Wake 2. But that doesn’t really matter right now…

The Verdict

The Signal is a good piece of DLC that continues the main game from where we left it, but it’s short and doesn’t advance the plot as much as I would have liked. That being said, it is free and is just as good an episode as the rest. I cannot wait to see where the tale of Alan Wake goes next…