Impressions: Alan Wake

by Cory Birdsong on

Alan Wake is pitched as a “pulse-pounding psychological thrill ride” – Joel Siegel, Good Morning America.

However, from what I saw, it might earn that hyperbole. During the demo that was played for me, I was extremely drawn in by the events on screen, to the point of my heart beating faster, like I was watching a particularly intense movie, or getting ready to get out of my computer chair to fetch more Gamergrub.

Alan Wake’s premise is that you play as Alan Wake, successful suspense novelist. You and your wife go on a fun vacation to a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Around that time, you discover a manuscript for a novel you don’t remember writing. WEIRDLY, it begins to come true, starting with your wife’s mysterious disappearance. Remedy’s Sam Lake, the game’s head writer and the face model for the original constipated-face Max Payne, would neither confirm nor deny the involvement of Sasquatch in the game’s narrative (because I didn’t ask him about it).

So at some point after this, the pages of the manuscript get separated and you have to find them. This is the game’s clever way of showing off-screen events occurring – Lake reads the amusingly thick prose in true Max Payne style, and then you generally seemed to find the aftermath of the events in short order.

Of course, this game also contains the shooting of dudes. The bad guys I saw were hick townspeople possessed by a mysterious darkness. In order to make them vulnerable to gunfire, you have to shine a light on them for a few seconds – usually your flashlight. Other, more intense sources of light, like a flare gun, basically serve as grenade launchers. The lighting system in the game was gorgeous and really enchanted the atmosphere.

Alan Wake is clearly far from vaporware, and there seemed to be a great game in there. What was shown was fairly polished, and it if is indicative of the full game, it should absolutely be worth a look once it’s released in spring 2010.