Firstly, let me introduce you to Hidden Gems before I start my review. This section of the website is all about games that the team have played and thought “Hey, this game deserves more recognition than what it’s getting!” Have you ever found yourself going into your local gaming store or browsing the internet, looking at a game, picked it up cheaply and after playing it thought it was a really good one but none of your friends have heard it even existed? I’ve found myself in this situation so many times and I feel their missing out on fantastic games that have just gone under their radar due to bigger games being released on the same day.
For this piece, I’m going to be discussing Alan Wake which, because it was out the same day as Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, I feel got shunted to one side as everyone frantically bought the bigger title. Personally, I didn’t think much of RDR but that’s for another day – let’s talk about Alan Wake!
Alan Wake is a thriller game which will provide you with an enjoyable yet scary gaming experience. The game starts as your character; Alan Wake, a best-selling author decides to take a break for a week in the small town of Bright Falls with his wife. But alas – there’s always something that goes wrong isn’t there? Unfortunately, Alan’s wife goes missing unexpectly and now Wake is set to uncover the truth behind her disappearance. Not only is there this, but Wake starts to have blackouts and sees characters from his latest novel, that of which he cannot remember writing. Oh dear – things are not looking too good for Mr Wake are they?
One of the main features of the game that you can even notice from the game cover is that it’s very dark. I’m not talking Goth’s, witches and everything in-between but, there is the constant battle against darkness in the game. Equipped with only a flashlight for the most part of the game, this did make me feel uneasy as you can’t see anything around you apart from where the flashlight is pointing. Whilst playing, I was forever checking over my shoulder and doing the typical movie move of pointing the flashlight in every direction I could within a short amount of time. As well as the darkness, the visual effect of the game were very well done in my opinion. Whether there was something that actually moved or just my eyes playing tricks on me I will never know but it certainly does add to the experience that you’ll get from playing this game.
One of the main enemies you’ll encounter in the game is humans who have been beaten by the darkness themselves – these are called ‘The Taken’. Lovely chaps if they wouldn’t scare the living daylights out of you for the most part of the game but I’m sure they’re just after a big hug. If so – I didn’t give them much of a chance to extends their arms and embrace me. To defeat The Taken, you must, yup you guessed it, point your flashlight at them until they die. Thankfully, like any human being, they don’t like bullets either, so find yourself a gun or two and you should be fine. With The Taken coming at you from anywhere, Alan Wake really does keep you on the edge of your seat during the whole game. Some nights, I thought to myself “Yeah I’ll pop on to the Xbox for a little while before bed” however five minutes later I found myself curled up in a corner with my Tigger teddy never wanting to sleep until morning. Okay that’s an exaggeration but you do feel the adrenaline pumping through you more and more with every scare you get in the game.
One feature of Alan Wake that people are either going to love or hate is the fact that the game is being portrayed as a TV show. With this, it has it’s perks with cliff hanging endings that keep making you want to play more however, at the end of each episode you loose your precious weapons somehow does get a little annoying.
The game itself is a short but could be expanded out by looking for the collectibles in the game and doing some exploring of the scenery that is really beautiful if you bother to take the time to look at it. Personally – I was more concerned about getting to the place where there was most light to save me from ‘The Taken’. The story line within the game can be a bit of a challenge on the brain to try and keep up with what’s going on with Wake’s wife and where he is with regards to finding out more about her disappearance but once you do get your head around it – you’ll be glad you did.
After playing through it on Normal, I did find the game pretty easy to get through and sometimes did feel as if the game was holding you hand as to where to go next and creating no challenge to the player as to figure out where to go to next. This aside though I really enjoyed playing Alan Wake and would easily play through it again for a similar experience as what I’ve mentioned above. I’m not one to give out spoilers but it does make you think and wonder even several hours after completing the game.
There as been rumours of a sequel to this game so I highly recommend that you pick this up and play it if you’re into survival horror/thriller games or just fancy a bit of a scare! Alan Wake is out on Xbox 360 and PC and is available to play now.