I was gripped by Alan Wake's presentation during the first hour of playing: gorgeous but ominous scenery of remote mountain-top villages hiding secrets that disturb the senses, psychological horror narrative that plays with perception and a sensitive inspiration from Stephen King's works and Twin Peaks that was well-thought and in good taste.
But then the game drowned itself in a sea of subpar shooter gameplay.
Warily, dreading the unwelcome diversion from a story I had just taken a liking for, I trudged on through the countless identical encounters. It can't be long, I thought, it's just an early combat level to satisfy the shooter crowd and then I'll get back to the good parts. It's not that bad, maybe I'll be able to avoid most of the encounters if I try - and just look at the pretty scenery oooh.
Three hours later I was still in the forest repeating mandatory shootouts while slowly forgetting what Alan had seen or was trying to achieve in his arc. With sadness I had to contend that I would need to abandon Alan Wake to the forgotten part of my Steam library, its secrets forever unexplored.
Maybe I should recommend this game to people who are bigger fans of action-shooter genre games. There might be moments in life when I can enjoy a shooter, maybe even one as clunky and dull as the parts I mention in this game. However, the mindset that one must be in when I desire to play Alan Wake - a mindset so tastefully enhanced and sustained during the exploratory/narrative segments of the game- is so dissonant from the mindset of generic shooting, that I feel it doesn't let one enjoy either aspect. Story detracts from gameplay and vice versa. Such a shame that one cannot turn the combat off.