Step into the reality that is ‘Alan Wake’.
The first moments of â€˜Alan Wakeâ€™ are unforgettable as I witness the opening scenes of this tense psychological action thriller that already has captured my attention. Exclusively for the Xbox 360, Alan Wake sucks you into its tantalizing storyline and throws you from flashbacks of the past and present day.
Alan Wake is a best selling thriller writer who is travelling to a place called ‘Bright Falls’. Bright Falls is a desolate place which seems to be an amalgamation of ‘Castle Rock’ and Twin Peaks’. Situated in the Pacific North West where Alan begins his nightmare.
Alan wake has been a successful writer in the past, but has struggled for the past two years. He hasn’t had the incentive or the imagination to produce another successful title. His wife Alice has brought him here to recapture his inspiration and passion for writing once again, with the help of the local doctor. The doctor has helped artists in his clinic before and Alice feels this is the only way to help Alan.
The game is a mixture of confusion and anticipation to begin with.Â We’re thrown into chaos as we watch Alan Wake driving down the highway in the dead of night, only for him to crash into a hitchhiker. Could this be the same hitch hiker that he had written about in his book?
Slamming on his brakes and struggling to make sense of the situation Alan exits his car only to find the body has vanished. Still shocked from the crash and trying to stay on his feet, Alan embarks on a quest to find out the truth. Armed with just an energizer flashlight, AlanÂ Â makes his way down the dark and winding roads, only to be pursued by a dark presence. Only a voice in the darkness offers him answers. He must make his way to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is a safe place, but as he draws closer the last words are ‘You’re Here Alan’.
My first steps into this dark and eerie place involved me running along dark cliff edges and spiraling pathways. Always knowing, always feeling that presence was close behind me. If paranoia hadn’t set in before, it certainly had now as I experience what I could only describe as pure terror. The fear and the dread that stemmed from that first moment would remain with me throughout the game. That sense of foreboding, ever looming over me like a dark shadow, would be the only thing that would accompany me in this dark and lonely town.
Everyone I met within the community of ‘Bright Falls’ filled me with curiosity that needed to be satisfied. There were many questions I wanted answered and everyone had their story to tell. I felt sense of panic as I ran with my flashlight through the dense forest. The darkness has taken over the world and only the light offers some salvation.
Wandering around the dark, I hear a voice from the darkness that guides me to a pistol that’s lying on the floor, which I reach down and grab as quickly as I can.
The control system was relatively easy. Using the left trigger I could aim a beam of light towards enemies which would cause some damage, while with the right trigger I could fire my pistol to cause more damage. It’s a mixture of using your flashlight in your left hand while wielding your pistol in your right. I spent a great deal switching back and forth between the two items. The aiming is easy and with a simple bullet or two you’ll master it. The left buffer allows you to sprint and dodge, even though I felt that Alan didn’t run excessively fast or maybe that was just the fear and tension that was building up inside me. It certainly grabs the audienceâ€™s attention with its thrills and suspension throughout. Alan is able to jump over various obstacles and there is a level of interaction with a selection of buttons and devices. Will Alan be able to step up to the challenge?
Suddenly the game is thrown into a flashback. It’s very confusing at first.
It’s beautiful and sunny and Alan and his wife Alice are happy driving to Bright Falls and the next moment we see Alan at the wheel of the car dazed and confused. Alice reckons he must have dozed off in the car and had one of his nightmares again. They are seated in their car and their vehicle is parked on board a ferry boat. Alan’s cell phone starts ringing and we hear Barry talking on the other end. The game switches back and forth from present day to the past so be aware of that.
Graphically the game is stunning and well polished, beautifully rendered in all its glory. Its dark and creepy forests bring the perfect environment for this psychological action thriller. I couldn’t help thinking it felt like similar graphics to the uncharted games.
In my interview with Osari HÃ¤kkinen, head of Franchise for Remedy Entertainment, he briefly gave me the low down on the inspiration behind ‘Alan Wake’.Â He explained that they were influenced by many things including the ‘LOST” series and Twin Peaks. Research for the game was arduous and involved researching the Pacific North West, which covered 3,000 miles, and takingÂ 60,000 photo images covering the surrounding area and that of Clayton Lake. It may have been 5 years in the making, but Remedy Entertainment wanted to keep to the heritage and make it as authentic as possible. They didn’t want Alan Wake as just another cardboard cut out without a personality, so they built upon that the foundations of keeping him very real to life. Alan Wake is a tightly pasted story that takes the player into the deep, dark recesses of the human mind..
In conclusion, Alan Wake looks sets to be a breathtaking psychological action thriller that has players waking from one nightmare, only to enter another. With stunning graphics and beautifully atmospheric sounds, players will easily become immersed in the world ofÂ Alan Wake. The simple game play and easy to grasp controls will ensure that, once immersed, players will not want to leave this world until the journey is over.
Alan Wake will be released on May 21st 2010 on PC and Xbox 360