Throwback Thursday: Alan Wake

I recently got the unfortunate news that one of my favorite games is being pulled from all digital stores. If you did not purchase the game before May 15th, you missed your chance. I thought now was the best time to give my opinion about a forgotten series. One that people would call the experience as playing through a Stephen King novel. Depending on how you feel about Stephen King, that can go either way.

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Alan Wake is an action-adventure horror game developed by Remedy Entertainment. Yes, the same Remedy that created the Max Payne Series. This game follows a novelist named, you guessed it, Alan Wake. Alan is trying to write a new novel so he decided to take his wife on vacation in Bright Falls, a small fictional town in Washington. Alan wakes up in his car after what looks to be a terrible accident with no memory of what happens. When he returns to the house he is occupying, he learns that his wife is missing. The only clues he has to finding her are the pages from the novel he allegedly wrote but has no memory of doing so.

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A novelist that doesn’t remember writing a novel? How does this happen? You will have to play the game to find out how. When I mentioned that these pages are his only clues to what happened, I mean they are scattered around the entire game. Each page you pick up and read, brings you closer and closer to solving the mystery of where is Alan’s wife. These are not the only items you will be picking up in game. Be patient, I’m getting there.

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This game’s mechanics are what really captivated me. In a horror game, usually you would be provided with a gun of some sort, or just a flashlight. This game, you get both. Okay, that sounds kind of lame but let me explain. You use the flashlight to weaken the creatures in game called the “Taken.” Taken are humans, animals and objects that are TAKEN over by the “Darkness.” No Pun intended.  Once the the creature is weak enough, you shoot them with your gun. Throughout the game, you have to pick up ammunition, batteries and pages of the book that you forgot you wrote. Fun times.

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The game mechanics did initially grab my attention but what kept me playing? It’s pacing and structure. It felt as though every minuscule detail was important while never making me feel overwhelmed with information. At the end of each “episode”, a colossal cliffhanger appears destroying any intention to quit or take a break. Following the cliffhanger, I am met with a, “Previously on Alan Wake”, recap. This was very refreshing and extremely new to me as the player. This was before episodic downloadable content being released. I also, cant help but think that another game in the same genre named “Until Dawn” was also inspired by Alan Wake’s structure since they follow a very similar format/formula.

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I know what you are thinking. Man I wish I can play this game. It sounds really interesting. Well, you can’t. It is unfortunately gone. Unless you find a copy at your local GameStop or something. I remember beating this game in one sitting, waking up with the control in my hand, waiting at the title screen. One of the best 16 hours I have ever spent. If you can get your hands on this game, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Especially if you really need that horror game fix.

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