So I ranted quite strongly about Alan Wake. And I have not changed my mind. The game is simply too hard in it’s “normal” mode to appeal to novice players.
However, since then, I have seen my husband complete Alan Wake, and even further, gotten the strategy guide to further my own attempts. Knowledge is power, and knowing those four guys are coming up really helps in that I save my flares and shotguns until that point.
I like Alan Wake. It has everything a good game “should” have. An engaging (if not terribly original) story. A hero and characters we as players identify with. Good voice acting with decent writing and good dialog. Great and varied environments. A simple gameplay that is slowly complicated over the course of the game but never gets to the point that it feels like a different game is being played. Wonderful set dressing and side notes about the world and characters. And best of all, “Omg wtf was that? Did you see that? Did I see that? Was that supposed to happen? That was AWESOME.” moments.
Except it is missing one thing. An ending. The game has an ending and quite a stellar one in fact. The opening strains of “Space Oddity” was more than enough to set my heart at ease let me slump back on the couch with a sigh. But then the unthinkable happened. “Alan Wake’s journey in the darkness continues.” As it turns out, in an attempt to get players to hang onto the game, they are putting out DLC this summer to continue the story (and another even later after that). I like DLC, I am a proponent of logical non-greedy DLC. But to so clearly add it to a game that didn’t need it, and in doing so RUIN the ending of a game… I was more than annoyed.
Even if they shipped the game certain they would be creating a sequel, they didn’t need to give the player anymore than “It isn’t a lake, it’s an ocean.” A small breadcrumb that doesn’t break the story or set up the “next week” mentality. This is why we end up with endless numbered sequels and reboots of the same old thing. A game isn’t allowed to just be good and then be done. No we have to milk it for everything it is worth. It isn’t like there aren’t 50 million other horror stories or horror situations we could use this same world, same characters (side ones of course), and same gameplay to explore. No, we have to rehash the story that has already been completed so well.
My favorite part of Alan Wake:
Early in the second chapter Alan is walking down a road alongside a row of cabins, he is looking for a trail to go to a spot to meet the kidnapper. Of course, as an exploration game any good player stops and explores. Inside one of the cabins is a tv set, which switches on when Alan’s flashlight crosses it (as they all do). I had already seen this episode so I turned to explore the cabin while it played as I didn’t want to leave before it was done in case it mattered for the achievement. As I turned something big and dark rushed passed a window. My heart leapt. I gasped and prepared to battle one of the Taken. But as the tv sputtered on, nothing happened. No dark shade came through the door. No creepy voices. No more shadows over the window. So, being the courageous explorer I am, I went outside to explore. Nothing. Nothing around the cabin, inside it, under it, or even on top of it. Nothing. “It must have been a trick of my eyes.” I thought. But always the one to test, I reloaded and made my way back down to the cabin. I double checked the perimeter and then headed inside. Nothing. Flashing the tv I quickly turned back to the window. And the thick shadow washed across it. Once again I ran outside to see nothing. What had it been? What had I seen? What designer in their right MIND would put such a cool little one off so few players would likely NEVER see? Clearly a good one. /salute.