Steam reports that I have only three hours in this game. Well, Steam and I are going to have to disagree on that. I own the physical collector's edition for the Xbox. I've beaten the game twice. I've bought multiple copies for friends. Alan Wake was the reason I purchased an Xbox 360 in the first place, and when it hit on PC, I bought the Digital Collector's Edition on Day one. I've sunk a lot of time into the game, and thought about it for a great deal more.
I love this game.
If you try to play it like the average person plays a shooter, you might not have a lot of fun. Alan Wake's not meant to be played 'normally,' it's meant to be played WELL. Shooters are games about controlling space; quite a few people have the mistaken impression that a shooter is about pointing at a thing on screen and clicking until it dies. With Alan Wake, it takes longer to click until something dies, so people get upset and think that Alan Wake is, in fact, a bad game. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
At its core, Alan Wake is a strategic action game. The point is to use the beam of light to manage the distance between enemies and yourself while taking them down. Light keeps them at a distance while burning off their armor. In the most desperate fights in the game, you've got to run a healthy balance between focusing on one guy to destroy his armor and keeping the light shined on everyone else to keep them at bay so you can take down one guy at a time. This strategic play ultimately slows down the pace of the game while ratcheting up the tension. It's super clever.
The story's great, by the way. You might think it's schlocky, but that's kinda the point: the game's aping the quirky, occasionally bad writing of psychological horror stories, and it does a superb job at it. Instead of trying to be great literature, Alan Wake tries to fit within its genre, and it does a fantastic job! You've got to be willing to be part of the game's peculiar quiddity, but if you do, it'll reward you.
Visually and aurally, it's a stunning experience. Even if the gameplay weren't top-notch, I'd still go back to Alan Wake time and time again. Simply being there, in its world, is fascinating. Remedy crafts its moments so well that some of them are ingrained in my head. Listening to Pat Maine on the radio, shooting monsters on a stage while The Old Guards of Asgod blast away on the speakers, getting your first flares... it's great.
Alan Wake is great.
Seriously, buy it. Play it. Have fun!
Posted: December 12th, 2013