If anyone would ask me I would not hesitate to label myself as a gamer. It’s on my twitter profile, I’ve had numerous posts about video games on Facebook and I claim to be a gamer on my blog profile as well. That being said I have yet to even mention a game or anything gaming related on my blog. I think it’s about time to change that. So without further ado, my review of Alan Wake, an Xbox 360 exclusive.
The logo and covers are fairly simple, the game? Not so much. I mean that in the best possible way. You take on the role of a best-selling thriller author with a severe case of writers block and a struggling marriage as they in vacation Bright Falls. Alright I know what you’re thinking, why in the world would I want to play the role of a fiction writer with marriage issues while he’s on vacation? I wasn’t as skeptical as one might think and at under $20 it was a no-brainer for me. Let me tell you, this gamble payed off.
Alright a little bit more about the story AFTER you read the manual. The game starts off relatively normal with a monologue-while-moving type of storytelling with cut scenes speckled throughout. The game gets you wondering what’s going on fairly quickly. The opening cutscene has you running over a pedestrian only for his body to disappear. The action and intrigue don’t slow down as the game continues and not too far into the game your wife disappears from your remote cabin while you’re in town getting supplies. The rest of the game you find yourself fighting off enemies and discovering clues as to her whereabouts. The gameplay in this game is unique and refreshing and definitely fits well with the way the story is presented. The length of it’s campaign has been criticized as being too short but how engrossed you are while journeying through the story far outweighs it’s length.
In Alan Wake you find yourself literally fighting off the darkness. On your quest to save Alice, your wife, you must repel what appear to be creations of your own that have come to life. You utilize different light sources throughout the game to remove yourself from danger and accomplish different objectives. There are “havens” which are permanent light sources that can allow you to move quickly but consistently throughout the chapter but sometimes these are few and far between. It’s times like these that you must utilize flashlights, lanterns and signal flares to fend off your would be killers. Through exposure to light, the darkness flees from your enemies, the Taken, and you are able to dispatch them with various firearms which include a revolver, 2 shotguns, and a hunting rifle. There are also a few driving segments where you remove the darkness from the Taken and run them over GTA style. One particularly enjoyable segment has you defending a rock concert stage from hordes of Taken while you light searchlights and fireworks to remove the darkness and blast through wave after wave of enemies. The game also features a fair amount of collectibles such as manuscript pages, weapons caches, and viewing episodes of a psychological thriller TV show. So far we have an incredibly unique storyline and a fairly unseen style of gameplay but what really sets this game apart is the incredible soundtrack and musical score.
Normally I wouldn’t dwell on game soundtracks too much. My philosophy had always been one of “if it’s there and doesn’t ruin the game, great.” I was one that wouldn’t even notice if there was a soundtrack half the time but the songs played at the bookends of each chapter are perfectly suited to the events and mood of the game. This is the first game that has ever made me look up not once, but multiple times, songs from the game to listen to repeatedly. I’m doing so as we speak. There are so many good songs but here’s my favorite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tA2d4DWdGw It’s not just the songs that are great, the ambient music is also fantastic and appropriate. I’ve tackled three areas of Alan Wake so lets sum things up and I’ll give it my final grade.
Alan Wake has an interesting and engrossing story, compelling and enjoyable gameplay, and a sountrack that is one of the best ones to ever grace a video game. While it may resemble a more mysterious, less gory version of Resident Evil, any game that I cannot bring myself to play alone at night is one I have to suggest to anyone with an Xbox 360 and at $20 for a new copy, there is no excuse for not owning this gem of an exclusive. While it may not be the longest game, it is one of the most original games I have ever played. If you have a 360 and don’t own this game, put down the controller, go rent or buy it, complete it, and wonder what you’re doing with your life that you missed out on such a good game for so long.