Alan Wake (PC) review
"If I should die before I Wake..."
Alan Wake is a tale of macabre horror, subtle product placement and trees.
Itís a tale that fittingly starts with a Stephen King quote about how horror -- true horror -- is unexplainable before then pulling out Kingís favourite self-projected protagonist: the horror author being turned slowly mad through his own creations. Mr. Wake is a celebrated writer fallen upon hard times, unable to put pen to paper, and taking it out on everyone around him. Things slowly start to descend into the surreal when he and Alice, his long-suffering wife, take a vacation to picturesque Bright Falls.
Even before they leave the ferry dropping them into town, Alan is besieged by weird nightmares he puts down to his vivid imagination having nowhere to escape to while heís unable to write. Fictional characters of his creation chase him through unfamiliar locations draped in the depth of night with only pockets of light serving as safe havens. These opening segments work because the game makes good on its threat of giving you no idea whatís going on or what to expect, so you creep onwards, feeling unsafe, and falling into a dead sprint should a light source become available. You learn to use a torch as your primary defensive mechanism, shining it in the face of the shadow-cloaked monsters that assault you, burning away their dark armour and leaving them open to your own attacks. Reach your destination -- the lighthouse -- and welcome yourself back to the real world. Here, all you have to deal with are pushy fans and really bad tunes playing on the dinerís jukebox.
Until night descends and Alice is driven through the wall of their rented cabin into the inky blackness of the lake that surrounds it. Panicked, Wake dives in after her, but then regains consciousness in a crashed car several miles away. Here starts his love affair with trees.
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