Xbox 360 Review: Alan Wake

Should Alan make you awake or sleepy?

Alan Wake feels like it’s been in development forever, a minimum of 5 years anyway. Years would go without any new info on the game and rumours of it been scrapped never failed to die on the internet. Now, Alan finally wakes up from his coma and Remedy brings out their first real game since Max Payne 2. But has the long wait really been worth it?

Alan Wake takes place in the town of Bright Falls, an idyllic setting full of forestland where Alan and his wife Alice, go on vacation. Alan is a best-selling writer who hasn’t written anything in 2 years, while Alice and Alan’s friend Barry want the vacation to get his creative juices flowing again. All seems simple as Alan picks up directions and the keys to a cabin on a lake, but it all goes wrong quickly as Alice goes missing and a story that Alan supposedly wrote is coming true, even though he has no memory of writing it at all.

It’s a tale of twists and turns, you’ll wonder exactly where it is going and even towards the end, you’ll be thinking WTF. It’s essentially this generation’s version of Eternal Darkness meets Max Payne. You play as Alan in third-person as he wields a flashlight in one hand and a weapon in the other as you have to stun enemies with the flashlight before you can kill them. There’s a nice mixture of weapons like pistols, shotguns and hunting rifles, while flare guns and flashbangs will instantly kill your enemies.

The game is split up into 6 TV-like episodes with each lasting anywhere between 1-2 hours each. There’s also a huge amount of collectables to find, including manuscript pages, coffee thermoses, chests, radio, TVs and signs. There are also some manuscript pages that can only be found in the hardest difficulty, so that makes things a little more interesting. Having said that, I’m not sure the game needed so many collectables.

The LB button makes Alan run, but used in conjunction with the left analogue stick can make you dodge incoming attacks. Despite that, some attacks can be extremely difficult to avoid…especially when you are attacked by a great number of enemies or inanimate objects that can only be killed with extreme doses of light. All of the objects that become possessed can be thrown at you and one or two good hits can actually kill you. The game can be surprisingly tough in certain areas, even on Normal difficulty.

There are a few areas where you’ll have to get behind the wheel and drive to the next area, avoiding the enemies (known as Taken) but these sections do feel a bit misplaced. I honestly would have preferred a quick cutscene splitting up the journey as some of the driving parts can be quite long. Also, finding collectables is made harder this way as they could literally be anywhere. I guess I’m a pain when it comes to wanting achievements badly, so I’m a bit annoyed that I might have to go through the game 3 times just to find everything.

Visually, Alan Wake looks incredible. It’s obvious why it’s taken so long when you can see the amount of detail that has gone into the locations, characters and effects. Voice-acting is also superb, while the music sets just the right mood for the story. With DLC on the way, the game can only get better.

The Verdict

It may have taken forever to come out, but the wait for Alan Wake has been worth it. Its story is gripping from start to finish, the characters are believable and the gameplay is solid. I could have done without so many damn collectables to get, but that aside…this is one game that I will never forget.