Sometimes, Alan finds functioning cars that bring a major change of pace, a reason for which he is not allowed to wander with them for to long. Exactly as in a nightmare in which you finally have control, when driving you can roll over the Taken with no problems, moments that allowed me to let off enough tension gathered during the overwhelming night.
A night that can make the day envious very easily, by constantly displaying a charming visual dance between light and shadows. Alan Wake looks much more impressive during the night, a fact that contributes to the slight, but persistent fear. The constantly shrouded woods, the fragments of light that you glimpse in the distance and to which you have to go toward and one of the most credible representations of strong winds that I’ve seen in a game, create a very subtle tension that has pressed only as much as needed for me to hurry to the next light source. Which sometimes turns off when you get to it.
A sequence that I needed so much in the introduction of the game comes, sadly, only at the beginning of chapter 4, chapter that marks the start of what I consider to be the real Alan Wake experience. Here, for about 15 minutes, in a recovery clinic, you have the occasion to know Alan a bit better and further accommodate yourself with other more or less central characters.
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Starting with this chapter I was rewarded for my perseverance, especially toward its ending. I’ll only say that the sequence here combines a concert scene and that after it I listened to the song „Children of the Elder God” with great pleasure. Music, tension, the “light + weapons” mechanic, they all mix to create a memorable tour de force that further raises the morale after the sluggishness of the preceding chapters.
The late release of the PC version also includes the two episodes launched in 2010 as DLC. They are practically the more libertine and stylistically extravagant version of the ones shown previously, the equivalent of a Shivering Isles for Oblivion or the oddball episode of Twin Peaks for the rest of the series.
Very far from being essential for the elucidation of Alan’s mystery, they are much more focused on action, especially the first one and have a slight chance of satisfying everyone who wanted more shootouts/square foot in the initial adventure. At the same time, they bring one or two new variations of light usage, an effort that would have been welcome during the first six episodes.
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Alan, wake up
It seems that at some point during development, a more open-world or semi open-world structure was taken into account. This is exactly the impression that I was talking about before, when during the introduction it looks like you will have a bit more freedom among the citizens of Bright Falls.
Such a structure would have given us more time to truly know at least some of the characters and their mysterious little town and would have probably eliminated the slow pace with which things evolve in the first four or five hours.
Sadly, without this, Alan Wake remains a fractured game because of so many influences, and I insist on the word “game”. The style and presentation are truly excellent, especially the soundtrack and the atmosphere during the night, which is superb. Without calling itself a Survival-horror or even a simple Horror, the atmosphere aims and hits exactly where a Thriller/Mystery/Suspense would be positioned. Not too much or too little, but exactly right.
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Yet as a finished result and, finally, as a product with an interactive purpose, Alan Wake suffers enough from trying to mix so many influences, ending very close to the “you love it or hate it” model. Eventually, maybe these are just the “pains of childbirth” for something more complex or for something else as deserving as interactivity, a new „species” that needs to be judged less for its interactive aspects and more for the ones that regard its style.
So from the very probable second game of the series, I really hope for less gameplay fragmented by useless cut scenes, a more open Bright Falls and, ultimately and maybe the most important point, a more lively Alan Wake.
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