Sometimes a game just slips under the radar. Whatever the reason for this occurring, be it bad marketing, classification problems or a strange concept, some games just fail to find their audience. Here at Player2.net.au we want to highlight these rough gems and that is where “In Case You Missed It” comes in. Some games just deserve a second chance.
In Case You Missed It – Alan Wake
Many games attempt evoke an emotional response in gamers. Be it one of shock, fear or excitement but games always struggled to create a sense of tension. That slow ramping up of fear that Hollywood movies such as Alien and The Silence of the Lambs have done so well. The mere fact that games are interactive makes it that much harder to achieve. There is however one game that is the exception to that rule and that game is Alan Wake.
Developed by Max Payne developers Remedy, Alan Wake told the tale of a horror author battling a supernatural event in a small mountain town in the remote American wilderness. If that sounds like a plot to a Stephen King novel then you wouldn’t be far of the mark. There are many elements in the game that invoke the feeling of playing through a King novel, so much so that it is surprising that he didn’t have a hand in the story. There are also obvious influences from Twin Peaks as well, but while in some cases this would make a game feel like it was ripping off other, possibly better, entertainment vehicles in the case of Alan Wake it feels more like an homage.
The game also includes a highly unique combat system. The enemies in Alan Wake are surrounded by “darkness” which has to be burnt away with a torch before they can be damaged. This adds a level of strategy to the combat which forces Alan to get in close with the enemies and use dodges to avoid their attacks, all the while focusing the torch on them. Once the “darkness” is gone Alan can then revert to some traditional guns to take them down. The darkness also adds a lot of tension to the game. The only time Alan is safe is when he is in a direct source of light (these act conveniently as checkpoints), anywhere outside of this light is a dangerous place to be, something the game portrays beautifully with audio and visual cues.
The story is gripping from start to finish. Alan is a writer who has suffered from a serious case of writer’s block for some time so he decides a vacation with his wife is in order. Once in the town things start to get strange culminating with his wife (and the cabin he was staying in) disappearing. The story is told through traditional cut scenes and in game events but there is also the addition of novel pages which can be found throughout the levels. These pages appear to be from a book that Alan hasn’t written yet and give warning as to what he may face in the future. It is an exceptionally original way to increase tension in a game that most likely already has the player sitting on the edge of their seat.
Alan Wake enjoyed modest success upon initial release but has since grown into something of a cult hit. Remedy haven’t ruled out a sequel but considering they are in the middle of developing Quantum Break it will be a while before any potential Alan Wake project comes about. Luckily the original holds up exceptionally well and can often be found for less than $5 on Steam. Considering Microsoft’s relationship with Remedy there is also every chance that the game will be in the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility list sooner rather than later. If you are looking for a game that puts the focus on story but backs that up with entertaining gameplay then Alan Wake is the perfect fit.