"It's Not A Lake, It's an Ocean"
Alan Wake Remastered is a remaster of the 2010 Xbox game Alan Wake by Remedy Entertainment. The story follows famous author, Alan Wake, and his wife, Alice, as they vacation in the fictitious mountain town of Bright Falls, Washington. The town is celebrating their annual Deer Fest. Unbeknownst to Alan, his wife uses the vacation as a cover to help Wake with his writer's block. The couple is given keys to a cabin on Cauldron Lake. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned as Alice is captured by a dark force and Alan must fight the darkness to get her back.
The Remaster keeps the core gameplay from the original game including narrative elements, but improves the visuals for newer game systems and supports 4K resolution. Several visual assets were remade, including reworking some non-3D elements such as water movement into 3D motion. Alan Wake's character model was also updated to closely match the live-action actor who portrays him in certain sequences. The remaster also includes two of the games DLC's "The Signal" and "The Writer".
For this review, I will keep things spoiler-friendly as I highly encourage those who haven't played the game to check it out. I also suggest that those who do want to check out the game play the remaster over the original as the improved graphics give a better feel for this game's environment and story. In this review, I will cover some of my pros and cons about the game as well as thoughts regarding both DLC packs.
The biggest strength of this game is definitely the story. The way the narrative is written makes the faults of this game less significant and keeps you engrossed in the rich horror-thriller elements this game presents. Though I am not usually a fan of collectibles in video games (I hate going out of my way to search), I spent time looking and searching every corner of every level to collect the manuscript pages. This particular collectible gives you a bit more insight into the story and predicts future events that occur within the narrative in such an interesting way. What I enjoy about collecting these pages is that on most levels I do not have to go out of my way or search super hard to collect them all, especially in the earlier chapters as most pages are in obvious spots.
I also really enjoyed the characters of this game. Besides Alan Wake and Alice, the characters of the game include Alan's manager Barry, Bright Falls Sheriff Sarah Baker, local psychologist Emil Hartman, FBI Agent Nightingale, the Anderson Brothers, the witch Barbara Jagger and poet Thomas Zane among several others. This game has an amazing cast that brings the town of Bright Falls alive.
The music in this game is presented by the in-game band The Old Gods of Asgard aka the Anderson brothers (music portrayed by real-life band Poet of the Fall). As the game is presented as episodic chapters, each chapter ends with a stunning musical ending closing out the chapter. Some of my favorite songs included on the soundtrack are "Poet and the Muse" and "War" by Poets of the Fall. The song "Poet and the Muse" was written for the game and is used as a plot device in the narrative.
The gameplay itself is interesting as it's both a pro and con for me. The enemies in the game are presented as a dark force that takes over the human characters. To defeat the darkness you must first burn it off with a flashlight (light is your greatest weapon) as well as shoot the enemies with your weapons to defeat them. There are four different types of flashlights in the game as well as a revolver, flares, flashbangs, and flare gun. Later in the game, you can also find shotguns and rifles which deliver a heavier punch on larger, bulkier enemies. The game also features several enemy types but also includes The Taken, which are the main enemy that you encounter, ravens which attack you from time to time, black goo which appears in various places, and Poltergeist Objects which are thrown at you.
As much as I find the gameplay interesting, it can get very repetitive and annoying at times. Each section of the game follows the game formula as enemies surround you, burn them with a light source and then shoot at them with your weapon with the occasional goo, poltergeist, or ravens attacking you as well. I would have preferred for The Taken to attack in a more interesting manner as the game does become very predictable and formulaic. Usually, this wouldn't bother me as in most games however, Alan Wake's narrative feels like The Taken should have a more interesting role within the story besides just hordes of enemies that attack you in every area.
The environment of the game is set in the beautiful mountains in Washington. However, the beauty of the scenery does not make up for the repetitive locations that most of the game takes place in. A majority of the game has you walk through the woods in the dark with most of the scenery composed of - you guessed it - woods. My favorite parts of the game include traversing through the town as opposed to the several hours I spent hiking in the dark with hordes of taken on my tail every so often. I would have loved to see these woods come alive a bit more with wildlife or even a sandbox component that would make the game feel and play better.
I originally did not get a chance to play the DLC for the game in my first playthrough. But, after having the chance to play both, I can honestly say that I did not miss out on much. "The Signal" and "The Writer" both sit at around an hour and a half of gameplay. The DLC expands on the story of Alan Wake and gives us a little more gameplay, but it doesn't add much to the overall narrative of the story. Each of the DLC packs take place in some of the same locations of the main game, but contain minor changes.
I did enjoy getting a little bit more Alan Wake gameplay, but the repetitive areas were not interesting. I would have enjoyed it better if the DLC included all new areas and information that would push the narrative forward instead of stalling it in place. My only hope is that if we ever receive a true sequel to the game, the DLC become more critical to the story. I have never played the additional bit of DLC Alan Wake: American Nightmare and am disappointed that this bit of DLC was not included in the remaster.
Overall, I can honestly say that this game was fun to come back to after almost a decade. The remaster of the game made it more enjoyable than going back and playing the original. I was excited to get to experience the incredible narrative of the game and overlook several of the flaws. Though I didn't care about the included DLC with the game, it was fun to get to play these two episodes that I had originally missed. If you are a fan of Quantum Break or Control, I highly suggest playing Alan Wake, as it is contained within the same universe as these other two games. Control even features a piece of DLC directly related to Alan Wake as well. I rated this game 4 out of 6 Infinity Stones. If you are looking for a game with a great narrative give this game a chance - it might just surprise you!
Kaleb Ardoin is a great friend of the Infinity Bros and an avid gamer. You can find him streaming on his podcast's Twitch channel, and you can check out more of his entertainment reviews right here on the Daily Snap!