A dark horror story that puts a novel spin on things
Poor old Alan Wake. One moment he's a successful Stephen King-style author with a beautiful wife, a scenic lakeside holiday home and a mild case of writer's block. The next minute he's stumbling around a creepy forest with only a flashlight for company, searching for his missing missus while pursued by a nightmarish evil of his own literary creation.
Gripping plot aside, Alan Wake is essentially a third-person shooter. The twist is that the game's supernatural bad guys – the Taken – draw their power from darkness and you can only harm them by giving them a quick blast from your torch (or some other source of light) before letting loose with your sidearm. This means you need to monitor not only your ammunition levels but also your supply of batteries.
Bright Falls, the small American town that acts as the backdrop for most of the action, has overtones of David Lynch's Twin Peaks and is populated by an equally curious cast of characters, including an alcoholic, trigger-happy FBI agent and a spooky old lady in mourning dress. Reinforcing this similarity, the game is presented as a series of TV-like episodes, complete with cliffhanger endings and "previously on..." recaps. Sounds, shadows and shafts of light are used to great effect and many moments, including a section set in an abandoned coal mine, are genuinely chilling. Alan Wake's world is full of intricate details too, such as lost manuscript pages, radio broadcasts and TV clips that flesh out the story and characters further.
It could have been an exceptional and original game but, unfortunately, Alan Wake doesn't always live up to its intriguing premise. Progress through each level can feel too linear, for example, and facial animations look a bit dated. The main problem with the game, though, is that it does a great deal of recycling. The plot itself takes plenty of unexpected turns, but the majority of the gameplay – combat in particular – is surprisingly lacking in variation. That said, this dark and moody mystery is certainly worth considering if only because it is very different to the average shooter.
Read more reviews
Heavy on atmosphere and big on ideas, Alan Wake is a flawed gem that ultimately suffers from repetitive combat and gameplay
Creepy atmosphere; interesting storyline; intricate game world
Combat quickly becomes repetitive; levels feel mostly linear
Phone no UK number supplied
Updating your subscription status