Exploration is as important as combat when trying to make your way through these haunted woods. Going off the beaten path is the only way you can find the missing manuscripts and television sets, and there are hidden weapon caches that aid you in fending off this unrelenting horde. Aside from your standard pistol, you can nab a hunting rifle and a shotgun, which make short work of poltergeists at close range, as well as a few explosive weapons that quickly dispose of anything that fears the light. Toss a flashbang grenade into a cluster of foes and watch them melt away into nothing. There are also little touches that add to the tension. Rapidly tapping X reloads your ammunition more quickly, and your frantic button taps mirror Alan Wake's movements as you both try desperately to stay alive. At times, you'll find generators that, when activated, energize nearby lights for you to take shelter in. But starting these up requires a few precise button taps that can be mighty stressful when an axe-wielding ghost is breathing down your neck.
6261036And Alan's wife thinks she's scared of the dark now.None
The prologue starts things out with a heart-racing encounter. Seemingly alone in the woods after a brutal car crash, you make your way slowly through the foggy forest to the lighthouse oasis on the other side. Of course, a peaceful walk in the woods soon takes a deadly turn, and you find yourself sprinting for your life toward a cabin, barricading yourself inside moments ahead of the imminent danger. This electrifying scene sets up the tension that hovers above you at all times, but sadly there are few instances during the rest of your quest that match this confrontation. Alan Wake's moon-lit wanderings become predictable just a couple of hours into the game. There are a few different takes on the core action, such as escort missions and a novel twist on the classic turret sequence, but not many genuinely surprising or completely unexpected events. Because the storytelling is strong and the combat is rousing, the game never becomes stale. But the lack of memorable moments weakens the impact of the chilly atmosphere, and you're rarely startled despite the supernatural events happening all around you.
Thankfully, the eerie forest you spend most of your time in is so well realized that you'll hardly notice you're doing the same thing for much of the game. A cloud of fog blankets the forest, adding an extra shroud on top of the suffocating darkness. The thin beam of light produced by your flashlight offers a glimpse at what's hiding behind the pitch-black cover, but it cannot produce enough light to ever make you feel safe. Enemies circle around you like wild raptors, luring you into thinking they're coming from your front side, and then when you least expect it, you'll find an axe implanted in your back by a demon who snuck up behind you. Foreboding music increases this desolate feeling. The subtle score that underlines your quest for survival keeps your nerves on edge and your neck hair raised. The slight awkwardness to Alan Wake's movement is easy to ignore once you become entrenched in this gripping adventure. The mood is so beautifully represented and consistent throughout the game that you'll be hard pressed to tear yourself away.
This episode of Night Springs is about quantum suicide.
Above all else, Alan Wake's gripping storytelling really sells the protagonist as a famous author. Every moment of this story is fraught with tension. Wake's narration is filled with as many questions as answers because he has no explanation for the strange events occurring all around him. And the missing pieces from the manuscript, radio program, and television show are doled out in such deliberate chunks that they slowly string you along until the full secret is revealed at the end. The clever storytelling ties in with the dreary atmosphere, building on the fear established from the very beginning with subtle use of lighting and a moody musical score. Unfortunately, the path you march down rarely offers any surprises, which makes your actions take on a by-rote feeling after a while. But the combat is so satisfying that it's largely able to overshadow this misstep. Alan Wake is a riveting adventure that will keep you glued to the screen until the very end.