Alan Wake Remastered Review - Call My Name And Save Me From The Dark
Alan Wake Remastered
Review copy provided by the publisher
Alan Wake was my 17 year old self’s first introduction to anything that’s close to the “survival horror” genre. Up until that point, I’d played too many Nintendo games, before graduating to every high schooler’s favourite series, Call of Duty. At least for a brief year or two.
The game was released during a period in which I had fallen out of love with video games, but it’s safe to say that Alan Wake was one of the ones to reignite my love for the medium.
The gripping narrative, many twists and turns and atmospheric environments dragged me back, so the announcement of the recent remaster was welcome news to me – an opportunity to revisit one of the games that probably steered me back in the direction of the career I’m in now.
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As I previously alluded to, the story of Alan Wake is pretty riveting.
You follow the title character, an author, who is struggling to find his mojo after years of success and infamy. To try and reignite the spark that made him so successful, Alan and his wife head off on a vacation to Bright Falls.
On arrival, Alan is recognised by many of the small town’s residents, despite trying to keep a relatively low profile. However, it soon becomes apparent that keeping out of the public eye would be easier said than done, when Alan’s wife Alice goes missing and the world around him becomes a paranormal nightmare.
I’ll keep the details light for those who are going to experience the game for the first time as the story is certainly one of the highlights of Alan Wake Remastered but essentially, you undertake a perilous journey to take down these otherworldly forces and discover what happened to your wife.
Given that Alan is a writer, it’s totally apt that the narrative in Alan Wake is the game’s strongest point. The story is filled with mystery and intrigue throughout and you meet a cast of supporting characters you will grow to enjoy spending your time with or want to keep at arm’s length.
While players can get plenty of the story from just playing through the game, Alan Wake wants players to dig deeper. Although the game is pretty linear, something which I’ll touch on later, there are lots of opportunities for players to find out more about the strange happenings.
Throughout the world, pages from a manuscript are scattered around that offer further insight into Alan’s plight. Alongside this, players will stumble across TV sets and radios on their journey, each of which will enhance the story. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that finding as many of these as possible is imperative as they’re genuinely interesting.
The game’s story is helped along by its atmosphere. At times, Alan Wake Remastered is genuinely spooky. Exploring forests or abandoned barns was made all the more creepy with the swell of the music, harsh string instruments and changes in the light.
Sadly, while the atmosphere was often great, the environments weren’t so much. Understandably, Alan Wake was released in 2010, so it’s not going to have the benefits of today’s technical advancements, however, there is only so many forests or dirt paths you can run along before things start to feel stale and that was a common theme of the game.
Alan Wake Remastered is an old-school linear title, but in today’s landscape, that felt like it hurt the game. Too much of the story felt like I was running from point a to point b, facing ambushes from the Taken.
The game never felt like it offered too much variety outside of this. Yes, there were a couple of missions you did with somebody by your side, but fundamentally you are just going from one place to the next, with little to do in between.
There are one or two smaller “button-pressing” puzzles to complete, but these are totally rudimentary and can be done in under a minute. The game also occasionally requires you to find a key to a door or gate, but again, these are so close by that you’ll have the key in no time.
All of this caused some pretty big pacing issues within the game. I wanted to relive Alan’s story but to do so, I had to slog through 30 minutes of forest and random enemy encounters to get there, with little to no interaction in between.
The game picks up in the fourth episode, which did feel slightly different and more exciting than the rest with more of a focus on resources and combat. Unfortunately, things come back down to earth with the fifth and sixth as once again, you’re forced to work your way across a non-descript landscape.
The combat sequences in Alan Wake Remastered are generally pretty enjoyable, although do feel a little random. When ambushed by the light-hating Taken, you’re forced to blast them with your flashlight before dispatching them with a range of different weapons in your arsenal.
Sending the Taken back to where they came from is certainly satisfying, but the ambushes can be a little too frequent or random, that again, they make for some even more random pacing and can occasionally feel unfair.
That being said, never once did I feel like I was in too much danger. Yes, I definitely died from time to time, but that was never from lack of resources, it was either from some poor play on my part or from being ambushed. I personally feel that tuning down the frequency of ammo and batteries a little would have added more to the survival aspect of the experience.
To me, Alan Wake is very much a product of its time. While its story elements hold up well, much of the gameplay feels dated when compared to the games of today. The engaging story will only take it so far, as cumbersome controls and repetitive, paint-by-numbers gameplay mean at times, players may be left a little bit bored or frustrated.
That being said, those who enjoyed Alan Wake back in the 360 era will no doubt find some joy with the Remaster and those who are visiting Bright Falls for the first will definitely enjoy it. It’s just a little dated.