Alan Wake’s American Nightmare – Deja vu all over again

I’ve never played an “Alan Wake” game before, and I’d never heard of the character or the world prior to getting this game (As part of a Humble Bundle) about 3 years ago. I installed it back then, played about an hour of it, couldn’t get the hang of it at ALL, so I uninstalled it and promised to return at some point, but never did… UNTIL Spoopytober 2022. It was next in my Gaming Adventure anyway, and I thought it was an appropriate game for the Spooky season.

I am proud to say that I finally completed it! As usual, I am not going to go into TOO much depth, so as to avoid spoilers, but I am going to attempt to give a nice vague and all-encompassing short discussion about it, but more importantly about _my_ experience of the game.

To start, the introduction is quite “gentle” and leads you into the mechanics of the gameplay, the interface, and the limitations of Mr. Alan Wake. There are a few callbacks, apparently, to the other games, and I missed these, of course, unless they were shoved right in my face and mentioned by the “narrator” of the game. However, after this “gentle” introduction, it really starts to get wild, interesting, puzzling, and PRETTY DARN SCARY! The number of times I jumped IRL thanks to being snuck up on by the rather creepy “enemies” in the game… I lost count!

The world is quite empty, but you do meet a couple of people (mostly women… hmm) who help you in their own way, and the story progresses. The first time you loop (and I won’t go into that, because I don’t want it spoiled) I was actually a little disappointed! I thought, “All that work, and now I’m here!” but it made sense. As the story progresses, the weird objects you need to find and the strange conversations you have to have with the same people, but with subtle differences, seem to slide into place.

The puzzles are sometimes super simple, sometimes quite complex, and I found the “help” was not always particularly helpful, or the instructions were a little vague, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

Then you meet your nemesis, and that guy made me incredibly uncomfortable – and that’s not something that happens very often – so that’s a testament to the writing, voice acting, and animations/cut scenes. This guy CREEPED me out no end. Every time you had to interact with him in some way I will admit I kinda rushed it and clicked through as fast as I could! And he just gets worse as you progress – so that’s both interesting and disconcerting.

Maybe because “he” is also “you” but the darkest, cruelest, most depraved parts of you? I’ve never been comfortable playing the “bad guy” in games. I always end up playing the good guy, the reluctant hero, the thief with the heart of gold, the thug who changes his ways. Every character I play, unless absolutely set in the story and unchangeable, will evolve into an upstanding citizen, whether I like it or not!

Moving on!

While this game is a little older, the graphics (in-game and cut scenes) are pretty darn good! The atmosphere is very noir detective, but with elements of combat, puzzle, decision making conversations and interactions, and lots and lots of running…

The narration creates a very 1940’s detective novel feeling, and if that’s your jam, you’re in for a good time. There’s a little wry, dark humour involved, but it never takes you out of the story. As I mentioned above, the writing is excellent. I only rolled my eyes once in the game when you interact with a certain character, and the dialogue options were a bit “Oh, seriously?” for me. But other than that, the story, the interactions, the narration, it all adds to a full experience and immersion.

Once I got the hang of the interface, the action, the story, and the ultimate goal of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad I played it, finished it, and I can tick it off on my Gaming Adventure list.

*sips whiskey* *adjusts trench coat* *puts feet up on the desk in the dark office*

So, Mr. Wake, we meet again. And again. And yet again.