Waking up to Alan Wake
It took me some time to get around to buying Alan Wake. In truth I bought it recently because I could get it on sale for £10. I had heard good things, but I really didn’t know anything about it. Essentially I went into the purchase and the game completely blind of type and story.
I couldn’t have had a better surprise when I put Alan Wake in to play. I had no idea really what I was going to be playing and was very pleasantly surprised to find it was a survival horror game. Been a while since I’ve played a horror game, much less a good one. So by time I was an hour into the game I was so hooked I didn’t want to put it down.
The story premise is of a successful horror writer who’s got terrible writers block and he and his wife travel to the Pacific Northwest, to Washington State, up in a small mountain town to get away so he can get himself sorted out and do some more writing. So we’re in the mountains with nothing but a small town and copious amounts of forest surrounding you.
Before I go much further I need to say something about the surroundings. I live in the UK now, but I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon. To me it is the most beautiful place on earth. So when a game has chosen that area as its location it makes me a little excited and a little proud. And when I’m playing a game set in that part of the US, I feel a sort of familiarity and connection to the game.
So right off I’m feeling the setting location and it looks perfect. Those dense forests and mountains and rivers and cliffs; they all add up to a mood that is ripe for immersion. Now we just need a bit of story and there’s no lacking in that department. From the beginning you are dropped into the story head first.
Right from the get go you know there is something not right with Alan and that’s why he’s on a “vacation” with his wife. You get a little tour and then you’re right into the story and the confusion and the wonderful.
The gameplay is straight forward and easy to get to grips with. You have a primary weapon and you have guns. I don’t want to explain what the primary weapon is cause it’s genius and really vital to the story. The other weapon besides the gun and that special weapon is your 2 feet. You will need to run; and fast. Just like Silent Hill, sometimes the best action is to not stay in the action. You will need to kill the bad things/guys, but you need to stay alive and keeps your friends alive. At times you will have company when you’re running around the forest/town; but your company isn’t a burden. Where in a lot of games it’s your job to protect your companion; in Alan Wake yuor companion has some brains and keeps their ass out of the way or they help kick bad guy ass.
Take note other games, this is how you handle having a companion.
I don’t want to give anything away. There are moments when you’ll be on the edge of your seat. Other moments your heart will be in your throat. The fear and excitement are so well constructed. I’m am happy to say that Alan Wake has got to be one of the best games I’ve played. So many things done so right that I really couldn’t tell you what was wrong.