Alan Wake (PC) review
"The horror game about a horror book lost in the woods"
Alan Wakeís story tries to be a horror story, but if it was a book, it would be a really crappy book. If you start thinking about it even a little bit it becomes a Swiss cheese of plotholes. Ironically the game itself makes the repeated point that a good horror story has to be very logical and yet the parts of the game are so illogical.
Since itís a game and not a book though the story gets you through pretty well.
The story also would give room for a huge variety of enemies, but this variety isn't there. The enemies are: guy with a hammer, guy with a chainsaw, guy with an axe, guy with a knife, guy throwing knifes, guy with a pipe wrench... you get the idea. Except for the guys throwing knifes they all engage in melee combat. The combat itself is either bad or good depending on how lucky you are. It's always one out of two scenarios: 1: Shine your light on the enemies and fire when their shield is gone. Reload while shining the light, give a headshot, turn 180 degrees kill the sneaky guy who wanted to kill you from behind, dodge the hammer of a big guy trying to crush you, get some air firing a signal pistol at him and watch him go BOOM kill the last 2 guys and walk on. OR 2: Try to dodge an attack, fail, get hit, tumble forward, get hit again, get circled, die.
The mouse and keyboard controls could really be better. Dodging is a matter of luck sometimes and since you have to shine your light on your enemies to damage them, you have a hard time seeing where you shoot. Especially since there is no crosshair and you basically shoot where you shine your lamp, but double especially since your light fades into a cone the further into the distance it goes. It's not unplayable though; I only rarely died because of controls. In combat, that is. There is also small sections of the game where you balance on fallen down trees or jump over small holes You will die in at least one of those sections.
The things that kills you most often in combat is actually the camera angle. Itís third person , but you still can't see if someone is behind you until it is too late. You also can't really hear people coming from behind you. At least my experience with the entire game was that it was insanely quiet. I actually had to put my headphones on instead of having them run at maximum volume, which is something I never had to do before in any other game. The talking is quiet even if you turn up the volume, well more quiet than the music and sound effects at least, so that I often didn't understand a word. That is not a problem though because the voice acting (at least the German version) is pretty bad. I find it amazing how uninterested you can be about being surrounded by guys with weapons not knowing if you will survive. Nah, Wake doesn't care. He comments on it like he comment on the weather.
Some of the other characters do a better job, though. What I like about the game is that, even though it's not an open world and you just go forward from place to place, it actually feels real. The mountains, mines, forests, villages all look convincing. And the line you walk forward on isn't as narrow as it could be. There is many a house or cave on the side where you can either get ammo or collectibles. Some of the collectibles are actually so hard and take a decent amount of exploring to root out. There is actually signs telling you more about the history of the place the game plays in and radio transmissions that tell you what's going on at the moment. It's not anything particularly interesting, but it makes the world feel more real and is of course nice for those who care a bit more about a fictional world that they are only gonna spend a couple of hours in anyway.
Well a couple of hours is a bit under-exaggerated; you can rack up a fair few hours, especially if you delve into the DLC bonus missions. Speaking of which, I almost missed them. I finished the game and stumbled upon them by accident -- a better job could have been done on highlighting their existence. Said missions were pretty long and pretty decent, so why hide them like this? But everything does lack atmosphere. It never really scared me once. The things supposed to scare you centre around cheap jump scares you can more or less pick out as you stray near them. Oh? There is an oddly placed haystack at the end of these stairs? I wonder what is going happen? Focus your lamp on the wannabe jumpscare, fire the shotgun and move on after reloading. Whatís this? There is a bridge that looks like itís about to collapse? Donít worry, even if you spend 3 hours on it everything's okay, but as soon as you finish your crossing - *BOOM* - everything's gonna crash behind you. Man that was close I guess?
I can't say the game didn't make me feel uneasy now and then, but that's about it. I also don't think the nightmare difficulty would give me the feeling of imminent death, rather just inspire me to run through most threats and skip them completely. Alan Wake doesn't often work on the level it would like to, but itís not a bad game. It's actually a reasonable experience that will keep you occupied for more than just a handful of hours.
Community review by krozzus (October 28, 2016)
Eric is new here, but really likes reviewing games. Fair critique is always welcome.
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