Alan Wake Preview
Alan Wake box art
System: X360, PC (on hold) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Remedy Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Microsoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: May 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Pending 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Discovering A.Wake

by Matthew Walker

When was the first time you played a survival horror game and got scared? Mine was Silent Hill. Light from only a flashlight and mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows gave an ominous feel to the dangers lurking ahead. It is unknown if any future survival horror game will capture us off guard while we are playing. Remedy Games, on the other hand, believes they have a game that will not just spook you a little, but will terrify you of your own dreams. It is no wonder Microsoft has leapt to the side of Remedy to publish what is one of the most anticipated games of 2007.

Alan Wake screenshot

I am sure that everyone has already read the main plot behind this gripping psychological thriller. For those that have not, Alan Wake is a bestselling horror writer. Early on in his career, his fiancée Alice was his muse. Just prior to meeting her, he had started to have strange dreams, which he used as material for his first book. The book was a big success, a dream come true. Alan continued to use the dreams he had to inspire his next great novels, but then Wake's fiancée vanished without a trace. Alan was devastated. He could no longer write, his dreams had stopped, and he slowly began to suffer from insomnia. At the beginning of the gameplay, Wake travels to a sleep clinic to seek treatment for his condition. The secluded clinic is located near the small town of Bright Falls, Washington, far away from his stressful urban lifestyle. Receiving treatment at the clinic, Alan is able to sleep again. He meets a mysterious woman who is the very image of his missing fiancée. Immediately, Alan's dreams return, this time though as terrible nightmares. Wake also begins to write again, using his nightmares to base a new book. Nevertheless, something is horribly, horribly wrong. Unfortunately for the town of Bright Falls, it starts to change to something horrific that bears a close resemblance to Wake's new book. As Alan, you will end up fighting for his life with a gun and a flashlight in his hands, all the while trying to understand what is happening around you.

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The basics of the gameplay will be that your flashlight is the most vital weapon in the game. You will strategically place lighted booby traps in order to weaken or harm your enemies. This will undoubtedly produce one of the more interesting aspects of the game. Along with using light as a primary weapon, you will also be thrust into a game that is all about free roam capabilities. Instead of sticking to the classic "here are your directives and they must be completed in this order" frame of action title games, Alan Wake is being touted as a revolutionary concept, especially in survival horror games. You will be given goals that you can achieve when you desire in a manner that is to your liking. This will help Alan Wake feel tightly character driven, since the goals are specifically focused on Alan and his overall story. Remedy, as most know, is responsible for bringing us the now classic Max Payne titles, but with Alan Wake, they have focused more on the exploration and adventure aspect. The only flaw to the game might be the lack of multiplayer options. As stated in an interview, Remedy said that they would rather deliver a great single player game than a mediocre multiplayer game; personally, I could not agree more.

Alan Wake screenshot

The graphics in the trailers are can be described with one word - astounding. The photo-realism of Bright Falls and the movements of Alan are captured at a level not yet reached by some of the other high profile games for the next-gen consoles. The entire 100 kilometers you will be able to explore are fully detailed right down to the smallest intricacies of the peaceful town you disrupt. The lighting effects really "shine" in this game as well. Now I know what you are thinking, if there is going to be this much emphasis on using light as a weapon then it should shine, and you'd be right except that there is something very unique about the lighting effects shown in the trailers. The game's beautiful cinematic elements are accompanied by what appears to be decent voice acting as well. In one of the trailers, Alan is narrating the events going on as a player is controlling him through that particular mission. Given the market, Alan Wake will appeal to the thriller fan in all of us, and you can almost bet that the music will be as bone chilling as the story itself.

Alan Wake screenshot

With graphics so real, Alan Wake might have us looking around every corner a little more than usual. While the voice acting is okay, it could use a little help, but then again, without an official release date, Remedy has time to hone this little fault. If the graphics do not automatically hook you into the dark world of Alan Wake, the gameplay will. With a possible holiday release in 2007, it looks like we will be decking the halls and staying in the light.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Free-roam gameplay across 10x10 kilometer of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Use light as a primary weapon.
  • Photo realistic graphics capture the eeriness of the night.
  • Discover the reason your nightmares have sprung to life in the quaint town of Brighton Falls.

    July 2006

    Psycho thriller developers Remedy Entertainment are prepping their first Next-Gen and PC title, Alan Wake

    Alan Wake is about a man named, Alan Wake. Say that three times fast. Alan is a famous and very successful horror writer. However, Mr. Wake's inspiration comes from the most peculiar of sources, his fiancée. As the lovebirds sleep, it seems that the soon-to-be Mrs. Wake projects nightmares into mind of Alan, who then writes about these dreams in his stories.

    One day Alan's fiancée mysteriously disappears, stopping his dreams. A devastated man, Alan Wake loses control and begins to crack. He eventually becomes an insomniac, albeit a really hardcore one. In his quest for resolve Alan makes his way to a humble town called Pride Falls, Washington. As he is waiting to meet his new doctor, Alan sees a nurse who has a remarkable resemblance to his lost love. So remarkable that when Wake finally goes back to sleep, the nightmares come back. Although, they do not stay in his mind…

    In Alan Wake you will run around a gorgeously rendered town (Next-Gen hello!). The lighting is absolutely superb, creating a bit of an eerie atmosphere. Remedy will be using a Light and Dark dynamic, where all the baddies from your dreams only come out in the darkness. This should make the nighttime very interesting to say the least. It's also been said that as the game progresses, the nights will become longer and longer.

    As a "psychological action thriller", Remedy will more than likely rely heavily on the story to keep things moving. The plot may sound a lot like the movie "In The Mouth Of Madness", but the look and the feel of the game will be a bit more film noir, such as Twin Peaks. If that's the case, I'm going to have to wear pampers while playing this game. Have you seen any of David Lynch's movies other than Dune? If not, try to think about a story that is so creepy, weird and utterly whacked out, and you will just barely begin to imagine some of his work.

    With the way things are shaping up, Alan Wake will probably be a game that has more of a cinematic feel to it, which I absolutely love. There was no action shown in the official trailer, and other than his name, all we know about Alan Wake is that he looks like a Next-Gen Max Payne. I have a feeling that there will be a twist at the end of the game where Alan Wake will wake up as Max Payne in drug rehab. Any takers? It's purely speculation.

    The game is salted for release on both Next-Gen consoles and the PC. However Remedy hasn't issued a release date, so expect this title to come out sometime in late 2006.

    I'm definitely keeping posted on this game, so you can expect more news as it comes out.

    Press:

    Remedy Entertainment Ltd, a leading developer of cinematic action games, unveiled Alan Wake, their new title, today at the E3 expo (Electronic Entertainment Expo, ATI Technologies Inc. stand) in Los Angeles.

    Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller, a unique new take in the world of gaming. The game is set in an idyllic all-American small town and its surroundings in the state of Washington. Alan Wake, the game's protagonist, is a bestselling horror writer, who writes a novel about his darkest nightmares. In the game, those nightmares come true. As with Remedy's previous games, story and atmosphere are fundamental elements.

    "In Alan Wake we want to weave the story tightly into the gameplay. Combining intense and cinematic storytelling with player freedom is an interesting and exciting challenge," says Sam Lake, Lead Writer, "Mood and atmosphere are essential parts of a thriller, and we want them to be present throughout the whole gameplay experience."

    "The game features a massive, open world for the players to explore. The game design is mission based with the player as the driving force behing the action, and as with their previous games, Remedy again focuses completely on delivering the best possible single player experience."

    "We're putting a huge effort into building a free-roaming, living world for the players." says Petri Jarvilehto, Lead Game Designer, "The true power of the next generation comes from the dynamic nature of the environment, not only making things pretty, but also making the world more versatile, varied and immersive."

    The use of light is a significant gameplay element. Remedy has developed proprietary new technology to support the gameplay of the title and to push the high definition visuals to the next level.

    Alan Wake is currently being developed for the next generation consoles and PC's. Remedy has not announced a release date.

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