right now, and what will happen later; Remedy
hallmarks, like viking references; the creepy environments; possessed logging
equipment; and just the general bad-assery of flashlights grabbed my interest
right away and brought me back night after night so I could find out how it all
The closing itself offers little in the way of definite answers, which is okay
by me because I get to fill the blanks with
own theories. (No, it wasn't purgatory.) While the narrative and plot push
forward in a segmented way (and sometimes out of order), which allows some
theorizing, the action pushes forward along a linear path.
Not only that, Alan always knows what do to next and where to go. If you have
problems seeing the directional HUD and brief description of your current goal
(i.e. you're blind and should have that checked out), Alan, as narrator, will
cut in with something along the lines of "The button glowed green, and it was
the only button around for miles. I had to figure out which button to push."*
Much of the time, it's completely groan-inducing, but on more than a few
occasions it came as a welcome chuckle/eye-roll.
In Alan Wake, darkness isn't just the absence of light; it's a physical thing
that can reach out and grab you. Or hit you with an axe. Since most the game
takes place at night the feeling of being closed in, and subjected to the whims
of a dark presence that wants Alan dead, is relentless. Brief moments of respite
listening to the local radio station or tuning into watch an episode of a "Night
Springs" are welcome as is the comic relief supplied by Alan's agent, Barry.
Shielding Alan from the dark presence is light. Light is the key so it's no
surprise that light sources are the most powerful items in the game. That
pump-action shotgun will simply annoy enemies that haven't had their protective
dark coating burned off with Alan's flashlight. Then there's the flare gun and
flash bangs. The flare gun is Alan Wake's rocket launcher and you shouldn't be
afraid to use it. Alan's inventory is regularly wiped out; if you've got the
ammo use the flare gun. The same goes for flash bangs.
And if all else fails: Run to the light.
If Alan learns anything from his experience in Bright Falls, it's that he needs
to get his conditioning up. His run is very short-lived. Alan doesn't
necessarily need to kill enemies. Stunning them with a hit from his flashlight
then running passed is a viable strategy provided you're close to a lamp post
(which is almost always a checkpoint). He runs for a bit then huffs and puffs
until he catches his breath. It's at those moments all the bad guys Alan just
ran by catch up and wail on him. (Alan's slow-motion dodge only works for so
long.) Reach the pool of light though and Alan regains his health and the
enemies disappear. It's a risk/reward decision that really applies pressure.
After so many years in development, it's kind of a relief to finally play Alan
Wake and it was worth the wait. The play of light and shadow, great cinematic
moments, and serialized story aspects offer a great experience.
- Aaron Simmer
Alan Wake: The
There were more than a few times during The Signal, Alan Wake's first
downloadable episode that I asked no one in particular out loud "Am I
doing what I think I'm doing?"
episode starts right where Alan Wake ended -- spoiler: Alice is saved from the
Dark Prescence -- and pretty much takes place in Alan's mind. It's a nightmare
realm with all manner of metaphors woven into the landscape with Thomas Zane
acting as a spirit guide. At times it can be confusing, especially if you try to
over think what's happening, but there's actually much less story explored,
though there are some answers provided for what happened at the end of the full
game (while introducing a handful more). And if that doesn't make any sense, I
blame the game.
There's more combat packed into the 90 minutes (or so) of the episode over what
I remember from the full game. There are some definite callbacks to what
happened "previously on Alan Wake" which I really appreciated because it has
been a few months since I last played. Oddly enough it made me want to run
through an episode or two of the full game because it made me remember, "Oh
yeah, that was cool!" There are still some seemingly arbitrary collectibles to
find but they're much easier to locate and some of them play into the whole,
"This is Alan Wake's mind going haywire" setting.
Plus, Barry makes a triumphant, and pretty funny, return.
Signal is free for those that bought Alan Wake new (you kept that card, right?)
but it will only set you back 560 Microsoft Points if you came by the copy some
other way. It's kind of a safe thing to say here, but The Signal is definitely
worth your time.