Alan Wake (PC): Review

I’ve recently purchased and begun playing Alan Wake.  Something about being a writer, playing a writer, searching for a manuscript, and talking about another writer…it just touches me somehow.

Alan Wake, for those who don’t know, deals with a writer going on vacation and his wife is kidnapped and he has to fight what is basically dark-elemental zombies.  All the while he is finding segments of a novel’s manuscript, which he has supposedly written but doesn’t remember writing, which gives you avenues into the mindset and future events of the game.  It’s an interesting touch of foreboding.  It’s survival horror genre, like the Resident Evil or Silent Hill series.  It’s a bit closer to Silent Hill, though, because you’re not playing as an elite SWAT member, you’re just a guy with a flashlight and a pistol.

When Darkness is your main enemy…Light is your only ally.

All in all the game isn’t scary at all, you can only be freaked out by being surrounded and outnumbered by monsters so many times before you look at a clearing in the forest and say, “One logger, two hunters, and a hiker…” only to see them appear from the edges of the screen when you walk into the clearing.  Then hit the next clearing and mutter, “Two hunters, a deputy, and a big guy.”  Oo surprise, one deputy, a big guy and two hikers…ho-hum!

At least Penumbra messed with your mind a bit.  I actually quit playing that game at one point because it depressed me to the point of not wanting to go on (I still need to finish it).  But Alan Wake is kind of, well…boring as far as the scares and mindrapes go.

There’s no shortage of crazy people in Bright Falls, Washington.

Oddly enough I still suggest getting it, if you haven’t.  It has an intriguing storyline, a few really interesting characters, and a pretty cool system.  Although I have to admit once you grasp the intricacies and figure out how to hole-up and pick the enemies off effectively, the game becomes more of a tedious trip from cinematic to cinematic.  But the storyline keeps you going through the tedium, making you almost enjoy the tedium, just to know what happens next.

The game is broken into ‘Episode’ segments, complete with ‘Previously On’ recaps between segments.

All in all, I rate it positively.

I don’t know that it has any replay value, except to collect any manuscript pages you might have missed.

One thing I really found enjoyable about it were the little things…radios scattered about let you listen to some talking and then play a song, too.  TV’s with a funny spoof of the Twilight Zone on them, stuff like that.

All the T.V. segments are live-action.

Not to mention the unnecessarily expansive maps and levels.  You can go for some time in different directions that have nothing to do with the story in the hopes of finding something productive…if you’re willing to risk going off the beaten path and traipsing through the thick underbrush filled with ‘taken’ (the main enemy of the game).

The maps go on for miles at times, even in the misty darkness.

I do like the light-based combat, too.  Illuminate an enemy with your flashlight to remove their cloak of darkness, then shoot them.  It’s nice, although like I said earlier…it gets tedious when you’ve got 4 guys coming at you and you have to illuminate and then shoot each one.  Then you fight another three guys, then another four…and so on.  The game suggests to run when you’re outnumbered, but you are outnumbered 80% of the time in the game and all the enemies run faster than you and have projectiles for sport.  Not to mention the dodge feature really doesn’t work when they come at you from behind, because you can’t see which direction to dodge.

If not for the murderous ‘zombies’, Bright Falls would be a beautiful place to visit.

Anyhow, like I said…get it and play it, if you haven’t already.  It’s pretty cheap right now, I got a copy for $19.99, new (from Walmart, but mine had the PC version for that price, too).


BTW, I like the name puns.  Alan and Alice Wake.  A. Wake?  Awake.  The writers had their cheesy moments, for sure.

Penumbra: Update

Forgot to mention this a while ago, but I got the patch for Penumbra!

Okay, the patch worked wonders…Penumbra: Black Plague is actually playable and looks decent.  It’s still not as good as any game you’d see today, but it was made about 2008, I believe, so that’s sensible.

Penumbra’s not bad, but at the same time it’s not great.  Considering I’m told that you can get the whole series of games for about $20, I’d say it’s definitely worth it, though.  If you like games with old-school physics puzzles or you like real survival horror, these games are for you.  If you thought that Resident Evil (the first one) would have been cooler if you didn’t have a gun or a knife, then you’d probably love this game.

That being said…I’m not one of those people.  Even so, I still like the game, although it’s mainly for the storyline and particularly for the hilarious commentary from your split-personality, Clarence.

There’s just something about winning somewhat of a boss fight by hiding out, sneaking past the monster, and locking him in a room by himself behind a door he can’t break down…only to be followed by Clarence suggesting you celebrate with, “…some nice relaxing cyanide.  I think I saw some Anthrax around here somewhere, too, y’know.”

I’ve taken a break from the game for a day or so, because I’m not much for the horror puzzles, but the game does definitely mess with your head.  There’s just something about a split personality that can control your sensory functions and tricks you into hallucinating by hiding doors or creating fake walls or making you think you’re fighting an infected creature, only to find out it didn’t even exist.

That being said I plan on continuing the game after my brain recollects itself and gets into puzzle and sneaky-mission mode again.


That and my wife asked me to stop playing the game while she slept, she can’t take the nightmares the creepy atmospheric music creates for her.