2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fresh, gripping addition to the suspense/horror genre,
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This review is from: Alan Wake (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
After being fed up with watching misguided new developers destroying my favourite horror series, Silent Hill, I welcomed picking up something new in Alan Wake, and I absolutely was not disappointed.
The game feels fresh and different right from the get-go with its episodic quirks that rapidly become familiar, the distinct narrative style of the protagonist, the kooky backwater twilight zone-esque feel of Bright Falls, the bold and daring use of light and dark to carve a path through the sprawling environments. Although not strictly a horror game, Alan Wake certainly had chills running up my spine with its clever use of the dark and creepy sound effects, and its shadowy villains frequently materialising out of nowhere to give you a good jump. Making a game pitch-black and letting the gamer fumble around in the dark is easy but stupid; I'm pleased to say that Alan Wake is much more intelligent, ramping up its perpetual threatening atmosphere.
The gameplay is, when you strip it down to its core, fairly simple, and despite the occasional branching path to go pick up a secret crate of supplies or something similar, your path through each episode is also linear. Where Alan Wake excels, however, is in not making it FEEL linear. The environments seem huge, and feel like living, breathing mountainside forestry. When you're running panicked from a mob of enemies through a thicket of trees, it's easy to feel like you're lost and disoriented. Linearity is not necessarily a problem in a game - most games are linear when it comes down to it - so long as the gamer never feels like they are on rails. Alan Wake's six episodes are meaty and feel full of exploration, poking through eerie abandoned buildings and dilapidated town houses in beautifully rendered environments. The combat rapidly becomes intuitive, although I was a little disappointed by the lack of challenge in it as the game is very generous with ammunition.
I'm knocking off a star for an anticlimactic, vague ending and run-up to the ending, and the overuse of 'I've lost all my weapons . . . again' scenarios. Which may seem harsh, but the story was great and original, and the lack of a satisfying ending was a big disappointment for me! Maybe the extra notes in Nightmare Mode and the DLC shed light on stuff, I don't know. Shouldn't NEED it to make sense of the complete game that I have bought though.
Either way, these niggles are minor, and Alan Wake is a fantastic game that demands your attention. And it's going so cheap now it can't be anything but a bargain!