My review of Alan Wake will be based on 4 categories: Performance, Gameplay, Graphics,
. As a summary, Alan Wake takes a new turn for the genre as it combines the narrative structure of a novel and the episodic format of a television show for a one-of-a-kind concept. Players may find the gameplay polarizing as it will either be too repetitive or true to form for fans of survival-horror games. Neverthless, it still delivers a story that is very new to the industry yet executes it flawlessly which leaves players waiting for more.
An excellent port with lots of PC exclusive features. Performance on a FX-6300 processor, R9 270 GPU, and 8 GB of RAM in a 1080p resolution, ultra settings, V-Sync on yields an average of 59 FPS and a lowest of 39 FPS.Graphics options availablehttp://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=421007311
Game comes with support for controllers and rebindable keys as well as subtitles, HUD toggle on/off, and an FOV slider. Note that the pre-rendered cutscenes are locked at 720p, running at 30 FPS with black bars at the top and bottom. Also note that for the added immersion, Remedy used vector blur instead of the more traditionally used motion blur which will probably annoy some players. Starting the game with -noblur parameter will remove the effect. No bugs or crashes experienced during playthroughs but be wary that no game is bug-free. If by chance, you do encounter some bugs and crashes, you can visit this site
for a list of possible fixes.
Direct to the point, Alan Wake's gameplay is not good. It's simple, repetitive, and there's the stamina gauge which most players complain about and probably the only feature which got them killed in the first place. It's decent enough though to warrant it as a survival-horror game and it has features which you'll only find in this title.
If it wasn't obvious enough in the screenshots, trailers, and gameplay footage, Alan Wake's combat heavily revolves around the usage of light sources to navigate the world and fight enemies called the taken. Combat basically consists of a two-step process where you burn off the 'shadow shield' surrounding taken then shoot them. Seems tedious at first but once you get the hang of it, it's still tedious the second time around. You get to fight his enemies with a limited variation of weapons (six in total throughout the game) that somehow disappears after you complete a level. Finding them again is tedious as well and the locations where you find them is questionable. In return for fighting taken in the game, the game fights back with the dreadful stamina gauge which Remedy thought is a good idea to add in a title where the protagonist is a wimp writer who runs out of breath in the first two minutes that he tries to run. It was even reported that the protagonist running out of breath is the number one cause of death in the Bright Falls area. Clearly, Remedy was aiming for realism in this part because writers are only good with their imagination and not with their bodies, am I right? Most of the time, you'll find the protagonist catching his breath and die rather than reaching the safe haven and live. If the stamina gauge was too much for you, then the lack of gameplay scenarios might make it up for it's shortcomings as you spend a quarter and a half of the game walking and running through the great outdoors, all the while fighting the same variations of taken and possessed inanimate objects and carrying the same freaking guns while being bothered by the wonky camera as you realize that the only enemy here is the lack of difficulty and the stamina gauge.
Now, why doesn't it work? The gameplay sounds like survival-horror material right? You've got the guns, the relentless taken coming after you, the freaking stamina gauge, but there's something missing right? right! They forgot the most important aspect of a good gameplay: utilization of the features to its fullest. When you talk survival-horror, you think of gameplay that's so limited yet fully functional at the same time; it may be repetitive, but it keeps you on your toes and there's always a new challenge to tackle because the scenario keeps changing. Resident Evil: REmake had you choosing which zombies to kill and burn - less you want them to turn into a Crimson Head. Dead Space had you cutting off limbs and making sure that the body on the floor is really dead. Silent Hill 2 had you fighting against the main protagonist's psyche as it takes on a physical form. The only thing that's memorable about Alan Wake's gameplay is that it's repetitive and the fact that the protagonist runs out of breath so easily. There's a lot of things that they could've done with gameplay features like these - especially with the development time that they were given. How about adding Taken that are invulnerable to light and have him/them chase you through the woods? What about having the protagonist trapped in a factory at night and he has to fortify the area, set up traps, and scour the building for supplies? Heck, the underused and easy puzzles could've implemented the light-based gameplay to a great degree and would've made for some very interesting challenges. Small things like these make a very repetitive game fun and the various gameplay scenarios constantly makes the game fresh.
Fact: Alan Wake is one of the most atmospheric games to ever exist. It's also a far cry from the industrial-focused level design that's so typical of modern games. It's gorgeous and peaceful at daytime, beautiful yet deadly at nighttime. The combination of industrial and natural settings paired with the amazing lighting and particle effects make it stand out from others. Character design is also praiseworthy as the cast of characters is very consistent and in-tone with the pacific northwest setting. If you've seen the Twin Peaks' cast, then more or less, you'll find the inspirations and similarities a bit too close to each other.
Fact: Alan Wake is one of the lowest in the AAA games section when it comes to the beauty and immersion factor of the game being constantly broken when you let the protagonist face the camera. The emotionless stares of the characters along with the bad lip-sync and the wooden animations make the game look like a horror show where robots are cast as actors. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem for other games but this is a freaking horror game! A genre which requires genuine and believable emotions from the cast! Sure, you may say that other survival-horror games had the problem too but what do you think is the difference between those games and this one? They conveyed the story through cutscenes! Alan Wake rarely uses cutscenes for the game and you'll always witness them talking to each other like neanderthals expressing their love to a rock.
The protagonist must be a descendant of Max Payne because he comments on every situation and everything that he sees. Anyways, Alan Wake's story is really good! Especially if you're a literature buff who likes to read stories of horror and terror or tales from the deep. You'll quickly pick up on how the story is structured like a novel and how the characters talk like they're a cast in a thriller. You'll also notice as you progress in the game the love that Sam Lake has for Stephen King and his works as well as others like Lovecraftian horror, Kubrick and Hitchcock films The Shining and The Birds respectively, and more obvious ones like Twin Peaks. Special mention for the first game that I've seen where product placement plays a very heavy and prominent role as cutscenes focus on the products first rather than the actual scene, everything that you use is branded, and Energizer is always there to save the day.
And there you have it.