Author Topic: Alan Wake and American Nightmare [2012 (PC Release) -- Remedy]  (Read 74 times)

Offline Starfox

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Alan Wake and American Nightmare [2012 (PC Release) -- Remedy]
« on: September 26, 2021, 02:02:57 PM »
Here are two games by Remedy that I never properly reviewed, even though I originally played them more years ago than I care to count, actually even before I reviewed the catastrophe that was Quantum Break. I didn't reviewed them because I never had particularly strong feelings towards them neither in a good nor a bad way. Now though is the time to get some review going because, unfortunately for all involved, Remedy found it interesting to intimately link Alan Wake to another of their games I reviewed more recently, Control, and to possibly issue another Alan Wake game in the future that should also impact Control, either because Alan Wake will figure prominently in a possible Control 2 or because Control will be an element of a possible Alan Wake 2.

For the record, The new game should be available a couple(*) of years after the release of the AWE DLC for Control which would be right about now. However I can understand that things got a little delayed by the pandemic and all that, so...

Instead we are going to get apparently an Alan Wake Remastered in October 2021 (next month at the time of this review). Who would have thought?

(*) I insist on the "couple" of years because despite the "several years" one may find on the internet, implying more than a couple, "couple" is the exact term used in the DLC itself. I guess Remedy like most others hadn't planned for COVID.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2021, 02:07:36 PM by Starfox »


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Offline Starfox

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Alan Wake [2012 (PC Release) -- Remedy]
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2021, 02:03:34 PM »
Alan Wake follows the story of the bestsellers writer Alan Wake (no surprise there), whom at the beginning of the story is experiencing a severe author's block that has been ongoing since the release of his last book "The Sudden Stop" (which suspiciously resemble the end of Max Payne, but I digress). In an attempt to heal his author's block, Alan and his wife Alice decided to take some vacations in Bright Falls, a little town not far from Cauldron Lake (a place that will prominently feature in the rest of the game). But then things go South and instead of vacations in a nice cabin on the lake, Alan Wake will wake up after a car crash, having lost a week of his life and his wife. Alice is not dead though, just kidnapped, but retrieving her will be the challenge of a life because she was taken by the Darkness, an evil entity reigning at the bottom of the Lake and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Alan will pass most of the game looking for his wife while battling the "Taken" humans that have been repurposed as puppet by the Darkness.

There we come to the gameplay part of Alan Wake and though it's not terrible, it's not terrific either. Note that Alan Wake was released on Xbox in 2010, two years before being ported to PC so it was first and foremost a console game before being a PC one. That may or may not explain a certain weirdness regarding controls and camera. The camera in particular is plain horrible. The camera angle defaults its position to over the left shoulder, and even though one can switch it to over the right shoulder the damn thing doesn't stop resetting to its default position as soon as you move a little too much, forcing you to constantly adjust your aim during combat. I don't even know if this was made to impose more difficulty on the player or out of sheer stupidity. For me this is the kind of thing that is truly annoying and it ruined a part of the game. I have nothing against letting gamer choose the side they want for the camera, but once they chose it shouldn't be automatically reset by the game. It is at least something Remedy understood for their later games.

On the control side, I had to put with a sluggish jump key forcing you to adjust your timing so you jump sooner than you would in other games because Alan's jumping animation is just that weird so you have to give him time to prepare for the jump before he actually jumps but all this time he continues to move forward. So if you time it wrong (and by wrong I mean other than how this particular game expects you to time it), bad things happen like falling from lethal heights or going beyond the thing you wanted to reach.

Another thing with the gameplay is the more you approach the end of the story the more the attacks by the Taken become standard close quarter ambushes and the less the enemy AI seems refined as a result the purpose seeming to be overwhelming Alan from all directions at the same time. Of course that makes things much more difficult for the player but that also makes the enemy AI appears much more stupid than it is in the in the earlier stage of the game, until about three quarters of it.

The last thing about gameplay is that Alan Wale has the stamina of a 90 years old when it comes to running. He gets tired pretty quick, generally at the worst possible time. but that's me nitpicking there. After all it's just part of the gameplay balance, I guess.

That aside I don't really have anything bad to say about the game. If you manage to get over the infuriating camera behavior and the sometime clunky controls, and a gameplay becoming more and more standard "ambush time" It's a nice horror game with a good story (although "horror" is debatable, as the game was several years later inserted in the Control universe lore which itself is not really a horror game and that's one of the problems behind linking Alan Wake and Control, but I'll discuss that at another time).

To clarify, Alan Wake without being an excellent game nor a really enjoyable one at times, possesses a story that is strong an interesting enough to push you through the ordeal up to the end, which is after all more than I can say for some other games.

Finally, if you are the kind of person thriving in madness, you can play the two special episodes of Alan Wake which are part of the PC edition that you can access after the main story ends but that you can only access loading them independently from within the "Episodes" section from the main menu. I mention that because they are not advertise anywhere else and don't load automatically at the end of the game. As a matter of fact, I realized only several years after having finish the main game that I had those two special episodes I has never played. Those special episodes depicts what happens to Wake after the end of the main game. They are more psychologically oriented than the main game and Special Episode 2 is dedicated to fans of platform games -- which I definitely am not.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 09:54:32 AM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Starfox

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Alan Wake's American Nightmare [2012 -- Remedy]
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2021, 02:04:14 PM »
Compared to Alan Wake, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, is a different beast. It is a standalone game that you can install and play even if you never played Alan Wake -- even though one can wonder why you'd do that. The basic gameplay is the same, one burns one's enemies defenses with light and finishes them with a gun.

However, despite a similar core gameplay, American Nightmare got pretty trashed by gamers compared to the original Alan Wake. The reason is simple enough. Remedy put a lot of Arcade features in American Nightmare that make the game a bit on the cheap side. The dark of Alan Wake was abandoned in favor of much more lighted areas and in general the game feels more like a standard arcade game. The main problem though is that the whole story is constructed around a time loop divided in three distinct parts that players have to repeat three times in order to reach the end of the story. My opinion on this is: time loops are great for movies, series, even books, but in games they tend to generally suck. Who wants to do the same thing over and over again with just little changes between repeats?

It's kind of sad because the story itself is good and provides an obvious closure to the Alan Wake's story arc, a closure that most fans rejected because the game was so bad in most other aspects. So of course the fans started to demand a proper sequel to Alan Wake, sequel that in my opinion is not needed in the first place because of the existence of American Nightmare. However, Remedy tried to let themselves some breathing room by pushing players to believe in the opening movie that the whole thing is just a dream that Barry Wheeler (Alan Wake's friend and sidekick from the original game) experiences as a Nightspring story. But this little boat doesn't hold much water because there's only one person knowing about Mr Scratch, the evil twin of Alan Wake, and it's Alan Wake himself because he was warned about him near the very end of the original game when Barry was certainly not present, so why would he be dreaming about Mr Scratch?

Anyway, that's a story for another time when I'll be trying to discuss the Alan Wake story relation that Remedy forced on their latest game Control that sadly was a pretty good game of and by itself but I now find unpalatable due to the unfortunate Alan Wake twist Remedy pushed on it, or rather the way they pushed it on Control.

Back to American Nightmare, it was a good story and closure to Alan Wake's story arc, unfortunately it was also a pretty subpar game, the kind you certainly don't wish to replay ever again.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 09:55:20 AM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Doc_Brown

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Re: Alan Wake and American Nightmare [2012 (PC Release) -- Remedy]
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2021, 10:38:20 PM »
I want to like Alan Wake for narrative reasons, but I've never found the gameplay to be anything but mundane.  After the bullet time heroic bloodshed of Max Payne, they followed it up with enemies you need to weaken with light.  Fine in theory, but in execution rather laughable.  The bulk of the combat involves aiming your flashlight/torch at enemies for several seconds before shooting them--in other words, a system that takes your standard exciting shooter and slows it down.

It's especially egregious considering the game's original concept was more open-world in design.  Imagine what could have been done with a day/night cycle and a more interesting implementation of the light and darkness mechanics. 
Roads?  Where we're going we don't need roads.

 

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