I enjoyed the original Alan Wake
immensely: for me it is still one of the prime examples of how an action-adventure 3rd person game can be made into an exciting and scary experience. So I started playing Alan Wake's American Nightmare
with high expectancies, but quickly the game let me rather down own this. American Nightmare
is not really a sequel nor a prequel to the original, it's more like a standalone game on the same "universe", but on a much smaller scale, so in the end it felt like some sort of expansion pack to me, using the same protagonist, game mechanics and of course game engine.
This engine still stands firm and delivers more than decent graphics: it's great in creating an atmosphere thanks to superb lighting, something which the original game used to immensely scaring effect. Although graphics are fine in this new installment, the actual gameplay is not. It felt almost painful to see the original game's tension and feeling of being utterly desperate while fighting off the forces of darkness turned into some Rambo-like experience. In the original game, guns, ammo and the ever-important batteries for the flashlight (sometimes it was the ONLY weapon to fight of enemies) were so scarce at moments that it almost drove me crazy, but the feeling of relief and accomplishment after finally getting further in the story, was all the more satisfying for it. American Nightmare
uses the same game mechanics, but provides such an arsenal of over-powerful weapons, an almost endless supply of ammo and a flashlight that recharges in a matter of seconds. As a result of these changes, the entire gaming experience changed from an exciting horror adventure to a lacklustre shooter where I just blasted my way past hordes of enemies. Were it not for the obvious comparison to the original game, I'd probably have enjoyed American Nightmare
a bit more, especially since after finishing the story there are a number of arcade-levels where the goal is just to get as many kills and as high a score as possible. These are played on fairly large and well-developed maps, and felt like playing more natural than the story.
The story, perhaps the main protagonist in the original Alan Wake
, is perhaps the weakest point in this newer installment. It's made coplex in an unnatural feeling way and lacks focus. But most problematic of all, it forces the player to play through the three locations (only three!!) three times, each time "altering history" a little bit, but in the end this feels more like a gimmick and the net result is simply too repetitve a game.
I'd loved to give this game a heartily recommendation as a worthy addition to the brilliant original one, but it really fails to do so. As it stands, it's not a bad game, but it did not live up to my expectancies at all.
Technical: 6/10 (it felt like being slower and less well optimized)
Replayability: 6/10 (SP only, but the arcade levels add some extra challenges with leaderbords)
Steam integration: 5/10 (no cards, a small bunch of achievements, while the original game really shined here)
Personal appreciation: 4/10
Overall score: 58/100