Updated Wed, Mar 21, 2012 by Stow
When I say Remedy, you say Max Payne. But where that film noir adventure was about a man down on his luck, this… well, actually, you could say Alan Wake is about a man down on his luck. He’s a writer with a bad case of writer’s block and, with a nice vacation, decides to write anew. Unfortunately for him, he had to trade in his pen for a pistol, but you won’t wish you could trade in this PC port in the end.
Alan Wake is motivated mostly by story, and as such has a few distinct features. The game is clearly divided into chapters, each consisting of day and night cycles. Each one has a fairly big cliffhanger, and together the whole piece feels like a complete game. It doesn’t actually require the DLC—but that's included for free!
While the day cycle might be a boring tour of walking or driving to destinations, when night falls it's every man for himself. The darkness is your biggest opponent, because it hides your enemies and even makes them impervious to bullets in a few cases. Careful management of light sources will determine your fate in combat, since most of your opponents need to be set ablaze by light before they can be harmed.
These sequences make up the bulk of the action in Alan Wake, and it’s a mixed bag. While the movement and shooting are on target, the repetition in your enemy encounters is astounding. Everywhere you look, you’ll l see evil black masses.; Your course of action is almost always the same—expose to light, expose to bullets. It’s badass the first few times you do it, or even in the first two chapters. The problem is that much like any other game with a flashlight (hello Doom 3, my old friend) it grates on you after a while.
Gameplay sequences of survival horror aside, Mr. Wake is a great character trapped in a tolerable narrative, much like Remedy’s other games. Every day unfolds in a different way. Every night has you fighting with light. While the daytime sequences lack in interactive elements, they stay relevant due to the development of the game that doesn’t consist of defeating shades.
Make no mistake though—while the shades might be repetitive, fighting them looks amazing. The graphics in Alan Wake’s adventure never cease to amaze in the lighting department. Characters themselves are done well, although not on the level of LA Noire. One complaint—it’s 2012 and we still don’t have characters lip syncing with their lines. What gives?
The combined lighting elements put on a hell of a show.