Deadly Writer’s Block
January 5, 2010 – Alan Wake has been in development for nearly five years now. Typically, games with such a long development cycle fail make it to market let alone find success with gamers. However, from what we’ve seen of the game so far (just a few months before release), this psychological action-thriller from boutique developer Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne) will undoubtedly dash any fears industry pundits might have once had. This game exudes quality – from visuals and storytelling to heart-pounding action and spot-on pacing, a deep level of care and craftsmanship is evident throughout.
Alan Wake will take place in the all-American, fictional backwater of Bright Falls, Washington. This quaint logging village is where Alice and Alan Wake have decided to holiday in order to get Alan back on task. Alan is an author, but he’s suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. Though the town seems like the ideal place to get his creative juices flowing again, Alice soon goes missing, and Alan discovers that the town of Bright Falls has been inundated with a supernatural threat known as the Dark Presence. This Dark Presence not only has taken over the locals, but the environment, as well as inanimate and mundane objects come alive, terrorizing Alan and harrying his search for his wife. Worst of all, these paranormal antagonists seem to be torn directly from the pages of Wake’s next bestseller; one he can’t remember writing.
These apparitions and poltergeists will thwart your every move unless you can limn them with a light source first, which is the only way you’ll then be able damage your foes with conventional weapons. Luckily, Wake will have access to a number of different flashlights, flares, and lighting infrastructure to keep the threat at bay, as well as a host of standard firearms for finishing them off. Consequently, players will relentlessly have to seek out clever ways to light the environment in order to maintain Alan’s safety, allowing him to blast the evil away. This will lead to many intense puzzle-solving moments and act as a great narrative tool for the developers to add suspense to the formula.
Bringing thrills and chills to the game in a smart way is of the utmost importance to Remedy. They’ve enlisted the talents of Sam Lake to create a story that draws inspiration from such great works and masters as The Shining and Twin Peaks’, Stephen King and David Lynch, respectively. The developers are careful to point out that the game is a psychological action-thriller not survival horror, although moments of helplessness will be integral to the experience. The biggest difference between thrillers and works of horror in the devs’ purview is that thrillers tend to be more cerebral. Rather than using gratuitous amounts of blood and demonic abominations, Alan Wake will use measured pacing, weighty ambience, and loads of cliffhangers to bring thrill-seekers a more compelling experience. In fact, players will regularly question whether the protagonist is even lucid – perhaps the threat is merely a delusion? Maybe Wake is actually the source of evil?
Best of all, Remedy has broken up the game into sections of story-appropriate day and night cycles as well as suspense-filled episodes that will keep you playing long past your bedtime. For the most part, players will be making their way through intense night portions when the evil is at its most powerful. However, the town of Bright Falls and the characters within the village really come to life during the day, giving players a deeper sense of setting and purpose. Day sections serve as a bit of a respite from the frightful force of night segments, but they will also be filled with moments of their own intensity. The developers have hinted that Alan Wake will be tracked by a single-minded FBI agent convinced of Wake’s culpability, and that dark corners, even during the day, can house the Dark Presence, keeping players ever on their toes.
The setting, like the eerie, humid, pine-laden, moss-draped landscapes of classic television series such as The X-Files, is the perfect environment for communicating the heady terror conveyed by the plot. From what we’ve seen so far, the graphics, aural complements, and voice acting are all stellar. Expect Alan Wake to suck you in and never dip in terms of immersion.
Alan Wake is being published by Microsoft Game Studios, so PS3 owners will not get to experience this title on their console of choice. Disappointingly, the Windows PC version of the game has been put on an indefinite hold, so it’s difficult to say if it will ever hit your desktop. Of course, if the game finds commercial success, which it likely will, expect a port of the game to PC to be given high priority. Alan Wake is finally set for release in May 2010 after five long years of development.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.