Alan Wake isn’t your typical author. Neither is it your typical survival horror/thriller game. It’s a game that immerses you deeply in its story and world that soon you too will want to solve the mysteries and uncover the secrets of Bright Falls
Uncover the strange disappearance of your wife during your vacation in Bright Falls as you uncover the mysteries and secrets that the town has to offer. The story’s pacing and tone is comparable to many thriller TV shows as the game’s story is told in 6 episodes, each with their own twists and cliffhangers. The story is immersive not only thanks to the superb voice acting, but also in part to how alive the world feels.
Although it contrasts the game’s overall dark and somber tone, characters feel very much alive and when the game doesn’t throw you into the darkness the environments feel all the more livelier. Immersion in the game’s plot is also supplemented through a host of interactable and collectible items. Manuscript pages retell and foreshadow events, meanwhile TVs and radios help give background on characters you meet along the way
Darkness is your enemy. The Light is your friend. As you wonder through the dark forests of Bright Falls you’ll encounter various humans, animals and objects overcome with “darkness”, turning them into the “Taken” who have become enshrouded with shadow. This protects them, making them near immortal. Only by shining a light upon them and purging them of “darkness” can they be damaged with the weapons that you find along the way.
Now most of the weapons you’ll find will have some correlation to light such as flares, flare guns, flashbangs and most importantly the flashlight. The flashlight is key to your survival. Only it requires batteries. Especially when boosting your flashlight. Obviously, cause what kind of survival horror/thriller game would make it less creepy right? Conserving ammo is always a must but there’ll be times when running will be your only option.
But the game isn’t always throwing you into midnight bush walk. At times you’ll get to enjoy the day at the heart of Bright Falls or even experience some of its facilities. Collectibles are there not only for the sake of an achievement but also to add more depth to the game’s already amazing story. You’ll even have the chance of driving a car around town in later portions of the game.
Controls are similar to other third person shooters on PC. WASD keys are used to move. SHIFT is used to sprint/dodge and jump, as per usual, is bound to SPACEBAR. Shooting and zooming in with your weapon/boosting the flashlight are done through the LMB and RMB while the middle mouse button is used to throw flares/flashbangs. Speaking of weapons, those can be selected through 1-4 keys, reloading is done by pressing R while changing flashing batteries through Q.
For those who’ve played this on Xbox 360 and want to do so again on PC, controller support is available.
Audio and Visuals
The visually the game looks stunning. It’s clear that every bit of detail went to creating Bright Falls. Whether it be from the dense forests to the distant mountains the view is spectacular. This is especially the case when venturing out in the day as the vast of amount of time spent wandering at night doesn’t do the environment enough justice. However the game still does look amazing during the night sequences since that’s when the lighting effects truly shine. Present or not they build up the tension and eerie atmosphere the game holds.
The cutscenes are also well done and add to the game’s near cinematic experience. Their only downside however is that they graphically can’t compare to the in-game visuals.
The music accentuates this even more. Dark and foreboding scores keep the tensions high and your heart racing as you wonder through the woods at night or fight against a horde of enemies. Occasional sound effects like the squawk of a crow or the howl of the wind is enough to keep on edge. This is a sharp contrast to the grand and almost cheerful music that plays in the day, almost as if nothing went bump in the night.
Upon finishing the game a further 2 episodes are unlocked, post-episodes if you will. They continue the story of Alan Wake even after the credits roll. For the completionists there are a variety of collectibles to be found, some of which are only available in the Nightmare difficulty mode which gets unlocked post game.
Alan Wake is a thrilling experience for those looking for an immersive survival horror/thriller with a phenomenal story. It’s a game that’ll make you keep looking not only over your shoulder but also for all the twists and turns that will keep you engaged and searching for more.