Alan Wake is an author suffering writer’s block and his wife, Alice, wants them to go on vacation at Cauldron Lake. Shortly after having a fight, Alice is kidnapped by an old woman, who wants Alan to use his writing ability to create a world of darkness. Because, um, he can do that in Cauldron Lake apparently.
That is probably the most coherent summery you will get with this game, because there are a lot of details which the player will need to take at face value or else they will lose the plot very quickly. Including the expansion packs, Alan also deals with insanity, a clone of himself, and time travel (seriously).
Despite the fact that I should hate this game...it has a unique charm to it. Alan Wake idolizes Stephen King, and if he didn’t have any input in this game, then the creative team genuinely tries to copy his style. There is a lot of mystery, a suspenseful atmosphere, and at least two really amazing songs designed exclusively for this game. There is also a sense of progression, especially with Alan’s character. Alan is pretty much an asshole from the beginning, treating both his fans and his wife with no respect. Not to spoil a great deal, but Alan does eventually spend several years in a dark dimension, gaining knowledge and insight on how to deal with insanity there. In the expansion, Alan Wake American Nightmare, he is actively seeking to hunt down these creatures. I especially love the expansion, mostly because he loses that annoying blazer jacket, but also because he has new weapons to deal with.
Where Alan Wake fails, unfortunately, is the gameplay. A baddie runs at Alan, he aims a flashlight until the baddie is vulnerable, then shoots him. Rinse and repeat about seven million times. At the end of each level is usually a very contrived reason for Alan losing his weapon. My only advice is to run through the forested areas as much as possible, as the enemies will respawn.
Final Grade: 3 out of 5. Not bad, but the gameplay could have been improved to mix things up.
So if Alan was born in New York, and the original game took place in Washington, why is the expansion called Alan Wake’s ‘American’ Nightmare?’