Alan Wake

by Angela Simpson
author awarded score: 80/100

Alan Wake Review
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Angela Simpson

Alan Wake is an episodic survival horror title that puts you in the shoes of the eponymous character. Wake is a thriller / horror writer who has seemingly hit writers block, because of this, his wife Alice Wake decides to help him get away from it all by taking him to a small town in the middle of nowhere. The town in question is Bright Falls, a village set amongst forests, mountainous terrain, rivers and lakes. Things go awry for Wake when his wife disappears from the cabin they’re staying in and so your adventure truly begins.

Alan Wake female gamer review

Yes if you haven’t already guessed it, the overall premise of Alan Wake is yet another damsel in distress, save your girlfriend / wife / hapless woman. though this does little to mar the game overall, this sort of ever aging story premise can wear thin long-term. Somewhat ironically it is in its storytelling that Alan Wake excels, by using a narrative that seems considerably based in the episodic TV genre. Each chapter in the game is prefaced by the “previously on Alan Wake” in which we get a rundown on the events just past. This adds a sort of TV show feel flair to proceedings, which give it a bit of an edge in the survival horror genre. One also imagines we will see additional DLC that will feature this motif in the coming months.

As far as third person action / survival horror / thriller titles go, Alan Wake is great. The story offers enough twists and turns to keep you interested, whilst also sticking to some fairly standardized game mechanics, thus giving you that feeling of familiarity. The downside of this of course is the regulatory tromping through dark forests whilst being attacked by clone like bad guys. The upside undoubtedly is that even this is done with just enough flair (or should that be flare?!) to at least differentiate it from the other titles in the survival horror genre.

Alan Wake female gamer review

Alan Wake features 3 difficulty settings, the easiest set to Normal and even at this simplest setting, some of the enemies will test your fortitude. Enemies cannot be merely shot to death, but must first have what is essentially a shield burnt away by torchlight before any serious damage can be imparted upon them by pistol or other weapons fire. This of course means you not only need a wealth of ammunition to dispatch enemies, but also plenty of batteries to get them to a place where this is a possibility. And herein lay one slight flaw to the game, if you run out of ammunition, no amount of dodging will save you from axe swinging maniacs out to cleave your head in two. At one point I found myself hearing a character yell at me to “use the flares in the emergency box”, the problem being they had already been used and the game did not replace them on reloading, thus leaving me essentially weaponless and frustrated.

The horror in Alan Wake plays more on the senses than out and out gore. The addition of the flashlight to burn enemies too seems to pull the game away from the usual shoot first ask questions later style of gameplay that some titles in this genre suffer from. Fans of the horror genre in general will probably note head nods toward a few favorites, including Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and Hitchcock to name but a few.

Alan Wake female gamer review

As far as female character go, there is of course Alice Wake as the target of your rescue, but along with this tired damsel in distress there are also a few female Sheriffs and other notable women in the town of Bright Falls that I wont go into on the off chance it spill over into spoiler territory. Suffice to say there are a few very interesting female characters herein, it’s just a shame the main premise of the game needed to be so old hat. Oh there is also a scene in the game where Alice appears in her underwear, for no reason what so ever, this felt rather forced and unnecessary, like it was placed there purely for titillation and not to aid the story in any way.

Overall Alan Wake is an interesting and fun game, though not without a few little issues that can mar what is otherwise an overall enjoyable experience. A lack of ammunition at key junctures, along with repetitive trawling through dark forests and dimly lit buildings too seems overcooked. Your common sense tends to scream at you “why you are not simply waiting until the daylight hours, or sporting a huge halogen light with you as you progress, or I don’t know.. some backup?”, but where would be the fun / terror in that. Whilst not the most innovative title in the genre, Alan Wake brings with it an interesting story, great atmosphere and a compelling experience overall. You should definitely check this one out.

This review originally appeared at our partner site Thumb Bandits