From Remedy Entertainment comes a remaster of their 2010 game Alan Wake which could aptly be described as good enough.
If there is one major criticism I can lay at Remedy Entertainment's feet it's this: they easily have awesome concepts but they're not always executed well. Games like Max Payne and Quantum Break brush along the cusp of greatness but never quite seem to break through from good to great. Alan Wake and by extension, this remaster, is a game that falls squarely into this category. While it is an overall fun experience, it's one that is going to leave you with a nagging feeling that it could have been much better. v1d30chumz 3-235-176-80
Alan Wake follows the famous titular writer who is dealing with a bad case of writer's block. In an attempt to get away from everything, he and his wife Alice take a vacation to the small town of Bright Falls. After arriving at their cabin, Alan wakes up in a car crash and discovers that he has lost a week of time and Alice is mysteriously missing. In addition, the town and its surrounding areas have been hit by a mysterious darkness that turns people insane and can only be stopped with light. So, it's up to Alan to discover what this darkness is and his connection to it then defeat it and save Alice in the process.
As mentioned, one of the issues with Alan Wake is that it has interesting concepts that never reach their full potential but that doesn't mean that it isn't fun. Perhaps the best example of this comes in the form of Alan Wake himself. He's not anyone's idea of a traditional protagonist as he's a complete jerk to anyone who recognizes him and he comes off as a guy who will punch a hole in the wall while arguing with his wife. It truly is a fascinating starting point for any lead character to have and sets him apart from protagonists in similar games; yet for whatever reason, they don't ever seem to push this idea any further. Occasionally, he'll come off as arrogant to some of the supporting characters but he's never quite the full-blown jackass that he is in the first chapter and during the occasional flashback.
Likewise, we have the concept of the entity known as The Darkness. Like the Hiss in Control, it's an all-consuming entity with powers and abilities that are beyond our comprehension and understanding. The antagonist in Alan Wake specifically preys upon artists while using them to enhance their own power; often pitting loved ones against them. It's just that, at the end of the day, it never manifests itself into anything more interesting than the people as well as the occasional inanimate object that it possesses.
Again, this isn't to say that any of this is inherently bad. Turning Alan Wake into something of an unlikable jerk easily separates him from other video game protagonists while The Darkness has a few intriguing twists in its favour and while you'll see many of those twists coming, it's still interesting and just compelling enough that you'll want to see the story through to its end. Like I said, it never feels like it ever reaches its full potential which can be a bit frustrating as a result but it's not a complete disappointment either.
Unfortunately, the gameplay falls into a similar boat. It primarily involves you shining a light on the enemies that you encounter for a certain amount of time which destroys the darkness shield that protects them before you start blasting the heck out of them with the various guns that you find along the way. Breaking up the shooting galleries is a series of relatively simple puzzles that help keep things somewhat varied. The majority of this takes place in either the town of Bright Falls itself or the woods and forests that surround it.
Throughout the campaign, the majority of the enemies you encounter will simply be men possessed by The Darkness. Their weapons mostly consist of blunt objects like shovels, tire irons, and other tools such as axes and sickles. Later on, the gameplay shakes things up by throwing inanimate objects at you but that becomes formulaic rather quickly and in the end, doesn't do much to elevate things.
Alan Wake Remastered comes with DLC which has a few similar issues. For starters, it reuses locations and enemies from the main game which makes the experience feel a bit stale as a result. Its one saving grace comes from the twist involving the primary antagonist but you're going to have a hard time playing through the DLC if you've come right from completing the main campaign.
Like with most remasters, there isn't a whole lot to say in terms of improvement. For the most part, it feels like something akin to a port job with all of the old quirks of the original game still very much intact. Some of the characters in the original version straight-up look like aliens with odd voice sync issues and that remains an issue in this remaster. However, the transition to better visual fidelity is a seamless one but you're probably going to have a hard time justifying purchasing Alan Wake Remastered if you already own the original.
Alan Wake Remastered is basically the same game that came out in 2010 with its pros and cons remaining intact. If you're a fan or want more context as to what Control's AWE DLC was all about, it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, it's best saved for an on-sale pickup.
- + The Darkness light mechanic adds a layer of tension to otherwise basic combat
- + Alan Wake's jerk persona makes him unique
- + Narrative has fascinating concepts and ideas
- - Both combat and the environments quickly become tedious and repetitive
- - None of the ideas fulfill their potential