Alan Wake is a game that I have avoided since it released almost 12 years ago, it just never appealed to me but ever since getting the PS5 and there not being many budget friendly games available Alan Wakes remastered version was offered at a price I just couldn’t refuse, but how does it hold up? is it worth picking up and was I wrong to avoid it for so long?
Alan Wake describes itself as a Phycological Action Thriller and is very unique with its episode based progression, inspired by TV dramas.
It was developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft as an exclusive to its Xbox 360 videogame system and it remained an exclusive until 2021 when it was released on the PS4, Xbox One, PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S.
I played the remastered version of the game for the PS5 so my opinion is based upon my own experiences with this port.
The game is very story driven and that is its main hook, the plot of a writer being trapped in his own horror story and having to find a way to change its pages in order to save his missing wife is something I don’t think has ever been done before, it is very immersive and the commentary by Alan throughout the adventure really helps to make sense of what is going on.
You can also collect pages from the original manuscript to help explain the story in more detail although a good number of these can only be obtained on the Nightmare difficulty of the game, another collectable are the 100 coffee thermoses, these don’t do anything in the game but are available for trophy hunters.
Discussing the difficulty I feel is necessary as this is a very hard game, I played on Normal and still really struggled at first, the game is a survival horror and if not careful players can find themselves with no ammunition and very little light.
The dark is a huge theme here and is the most dangerous element of this adventure, while in the dark possessed spirits will bombard players and can take you out in only a few hits, the flash light will eventually stun them so they can be shot but this light is limited and you should try to use the back up batteries sparingly. Trying to kill every enemy is almost impossible as in most cases they keep re-appearing, so what you really need to do is try to avoid combat when you can and very strategically make your way to light sources so you can heal. Lights are also the only areas that are completely safe but of course they are few and far between so they cannot be completely relied on.
There are some “Boss fights” in the game but they are mostly just much more powerful and larger versions of the possessed, again light is your best weapon with these and I highly recommend trying to defeat them (even though some can be avoided) as certain ones will give you in game trophies.
The game is very dark in its colours and uses very little detail to help pull off its creepy and empty atmosphere, Alan is lost on his journey and is slowly figuring things out, the players see the world though his eyes and it works surprisingly well having less to focus on it gives off the effect that this is a very dark and secluded game and it helps to put more emphasis on the story, there are no side quests or open world areas as Alan Wake doesn’t need either of these to tell a very good story and it does that extremely well.
On another note the flashback segments are much more detailed and use a full colour palette, these are a nice change of pace, they don’t stay for long but are much appreciated when we do get them, they also help shine some light on Alans relationship with Alice and why they were having problems before she was taken by the darkness.
There are two DLC episodes which are included as part of the remastered package, these are titled the Signal and the Writer. I wont go into discussion about these as by doing that I will be spoiling the main games ending as these are both follow on stories which prepare players for the eventual plot of Alan Wake 2 releasing sometime next year.
The soundtrack was composed by Petri Alanko and is really good, I’ll be honest it is really rare that the game uses music and that does benefit it as it helps pull off that empty, realism and loneliness, but since the game is episode based, each episode ends with credits which all have their own song with a vocal performance and these change depending on the themes of said episode. The sound track also is used on the title screen and while the music here is very quiet and mostly matched with creepy sounds it helps to add to that atmosphere and I absolutely love it.
Alan Wake is a game I wish I played a very long time ago, I think the slower gameplay was off putting to me back then, but I am pleased to say I actually really enjoyed this one, I wasn’t hooked on it but I don’t feel like your meant to be, the game is slow and extremely difficult but tells this absolutely amazing story that is awarded to you for your survival. There isn’t really much to the game to make it addictive but I kept wanting to see where the plot was going to take me and of course the mystery of the island was really captivating and if there was any hook that was it for me, the ending definitely caught me by surprise and I am really looking forward to see where this goes in the sequel. 7.5/10
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