Review Of Alan Wake: The Writer

Posted on October 10, 2010

The more I think about Alan Wake, the more I like it. This is one of those entertainment experiences that sticks with you, and makes you want to re-enter its world. Alan Wake’s allure comes in the form of an unanswered mystery. Is fiction writer Alan Wake trapped in his own nightmares? Is he just an imaginary character created by a lunatic named Thomas Zane? Or is there really a dark presence taking over the town of Bright Falls?

This mystery has stuck with me, and developer Remedy Games has done a great job of fanning the flame with Alan Wake’s two DLC offerings, The Signal and tomorrow’s new release, The Writer.

At the end of the retail game, I believed that Alan Wake was insane – the journey he took was fabricated and twisted all in his mind. The dark presence doesn’t exist in our world, and there’s even a chance that his wife, the town of Bright Falls, and his dear friend Barry may be figments of his imagination.

The Signal opened my mind to other possibilities. Maybe I wasn’t following the right trail. Maybe I didn’t see everything as clearly as I thought I did. This thought process made me play through the retail game again. And yes, with my perception heightened to other options, I walked away with a slightly different belief, this time thinking that either Alan was insane or that he may be a character in a book.

The Writer, the last DLC offering, doesn’t deliver the crystal clear clarity I was hoping for, but it does provide a satisfying conclusion to the tale and a sharper focus to the mystery at hand. I’ll say this much: It’s a better conclusion than you’ll find in Lost and Twin Peaks. Remedy also does a great job of lighting the way for a sequel. I may be reading too much into the sequel tease, but in just two written words, it points toward the answer everyone has been looking for.

With Alan’s world falling apart (quite literally), Remedy’s level designers had a field day dreaming up environments that twist and turn, crumble, and in many cases, appear out of thin air. This chapter in Alan’s life is far more surreal than the other installments, and it’s much to the chagrin of the player. Light fantasy elements also come into play during gameplay. For instance, in one battle, Alan can illuminate words floating in the environment to make oil drums appear out of nowhere, and tumble down a hill toward pitchfork-wielding attackers. With one perfectly placed bullet, the oil drum will explode and eliminate the threat.

This is just one of many ways that Remedy keeps Alan Wake’s gameplay from retracing the same steps. Yes, you still have to “light up” every enemy before being able to dispatch of them, but the methods for doing this are new and quite satisfying.

In addition to Alan coming to terms with his lot in life (or is he?), this DLC pack rarely misses a beat. From the imaginative level designs to the varied gunplay, it shows Remedy at the top of their game. Here’s hoping they get to continue their adventure.

Alan Wake: The Writer is about an hour long, offers a handful of Achievements that are easy to unlock, and is available tomorrow for 560 Microsoft Points ($7).

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Reviews, Game Secrets

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