X06: Alan Wake Updated Impressions

We check in with Remedy for an update on the upcoming Xbox 360 title from X06.

BARCELONA, Spain--We haven't heard much on Alan Wake since the moody title debuted at Microsoft's Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference. The game is named after its main character, a troubled writer coping with the loss of his girlfriend. At today's behind-closed-doors meeting with Finnish developer Remedy at X06, we found out what's going on with the unique psychological action thriller.

The demo was led by Remedy's creative director and Alan Wake's lead writer, who traded off speaking during the demo. The pair reiterated Alan Wake's action thriller approach and laid out the game's premise. You'll play as Alan Wake, a writer who's going through a rough patch. It seems his fairy-tale life took a bizarre turn when, after meeting the perfect woman and writing a best-selling novel, his special lady disappears in circumstances similar to those seen in his book, and he's wracked by insomnia. We expect he should have been a touch concerned upon realizing that his novel almost wrote itself (courtesy of the voices in his head), but hey, sometimes you just need to roll with those creative surges of energy, right? At any rate, he's hit hard by the disappearance and heads out to a clinic near the slightly too picturesque town of Bright Falls where, wouldn't you know it, he starts having odd visions of his lady and finding that someone is writing in his journal. Creepy? Yes. Good setup for a psychological action thriller? Totally.

The demo showed a bit of the game's intro off, which began with an eerie array of images, as logos drifted in and out of view, and then panned to a dramatic zoom of Alan hanging out on a mountain top. The view from his vantage point offered a stunning showcase of the area around Bright Falls. The game is re-creating a 10x10 kilometer slice of the Pacific Northwest, which should offer plenty of places for you to explore.

Once the impact of the opening passed, the demo shifted to gameplay and showed off how you'll be getting around and interacting with folks. The basic structure of the game is modeled after a season of a TV series. The episodic structure is being used to support multiple endings in the game and let each episode be broken up into different parts to complement the game's storytelling style.

The demo showed one of the early missions in the game and found our troubled lead starting to explore his surroundings. The game's interface is being kept simple, with a task bar in the lower left-hand corner of the screen displaying your current mission in handwritten font. For the demo, Alan was tasked with going to a mountainside cabin. Alan spoke with a gas station employee and got a key before heading out to the cabin, which was near the charmingly named Cauldron Lake (we're sure it's a fun, happy place). As Alan drove, his inner monologue served as commentary on his situation--a gameplay element that occurred several times in the demo. Not long after he starts his drive to the cabin, Alan encounters a hitchhiker who he picks up (we'll say right now we're a little concerned that Alan might not be the brightest lead character we've ever seen in a video game). During the drive, the situation takes a turn for the creepy, as Alan chats up his passenger with a fun fact: The events taking place are reminiscent of a hitchhiker scene in Alan's book where the fictional hitchhiker is killed. A little later in the ride the pair come across a car wreck. While Alan leaves the car to check out the busted vehicle, a truck zips by and hits his car head on, apparently killing the hitchhiker. A few disoriented moments later, Alan drops like a sack of potatoes.

Unfortunately, unconsciousness isn't the pleasant break from harsh reality you'd think, as Alan must deal with disturbing imagery that ends with what appears to be his lady beckoning him to wake up. When Alan wakes, he finds himself sprawled on the road where he dropped holding a gun and a flashlight. Fortunately, the cabin is nearby, and he heads over to it via a rickety rope bridge. As he nears the cabin, the view changes to a cinematic that shows something wicked coming Alan's way. Just what the mysterious, invisible creature is remains unclear, but if you're thinking it's bad, then you're probably right. The demo ended with Alan encountering what appears to be the hitchhiker on the rope bridge, which served as a snappy cliff-hanger to the experience.

The visuals in the game are looking very sharp, thanks to a cracking level of detail. The environments shown off in the demo featured crisp detail that the Remedy boys took pride in showing off, as they adjusted the time of day and tweaked environmental effects such as wind and fog. The game is set to feature high dynamic range lighting that was shown to good effect as time of day and weather conditions changed. At one point, Alan entered a garage at night with all manner of light sources casting shadows every which way, which was mightily impressive. To really sell the environment's dynamic nature, the team created a tornado that ripped through a house near where Alan was standing and showed all the particle effects it stirred up as it tore into a house. Just as impressive were the character models, which were still a work in progress. However, they looked amazing due in no small part to Remedy's desire to create the most realistic-looking characters it could drop into the gorgeous, but disturbing, playground of the game world.

The audio added a lot to the demo thanks to the speakers set out around the room. The incidental music had some bite to it and helped sell the game's atmosphere. The voice acting was so-so, but we expect it will see some refinement as game development continues.

Based on what we saw, Alan Wake is looking like a promising original title from Remedy that's attempting a lot of interesting ideas. The story and the episodic nature of how it's structured is something we're very curious to see play out. What little we've seen of the game's presentation has a very good feel and seems to be striking the right balance between something you watch and something you play. Look for more on Alan Wake as it becomes available.

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Discussion

177 comments
hamoksha0000
hamoksha0000

guys this game will be exposed on e3 2009 and alot of exclusive games for the 360

MattyWoah
MattyWoah

Have any of you guys played Indigo Prophecy? This sounds very similar to that game. That game was a pretty good game, but the kind of thing that you can only play ONE time, and never pick it up again.

mossongreens
mossongreens

@Vasot some would be...if they didn't own both. I would be more jealous that the game rage will have significantly crappier graphics on the xbox because mircrosofts royalty fees

Vasot
Vasot

PS3 boys must be jealous !!!

Orcspecial111
Orcspecial111

does this remind any1 else of the secret window (2004)? You know that not so old movie with johhny depp, i think its based on a book of stephen king.... the story is very similar and ( SPOIL ) in the end the writer was the crazy killer with two personalities... not a very good ending, so hopefully it will be something better, if it ever comes out that is

the_requiem
the_requiem

Sounds like a more actioney Silent Hill 2 meets Stephen King. Intrigued, not interested yet, but definitely intrigued. Action and psychological horror don't mix well.

Giakura
Giakura

I am definitely interested...

Alan_Wake_x
Alan_Wake_x

it's worth waitin' for,, but not for ever!!

mwamba1
mwamba1

i want this game NOW!

Comedyco
Comedyco

you'd be a nig ger to not get this game assuming it's made.

elwar1
elwar1

I'll believe the release date when the game is out. I've been looking forward to the release of this game for years now, (since the Xbox 360 was released), but there doesn't seem to be a lot of hype surrounding the release anymore. I hope they still plan on releasing this game... It almost seems as though they've scrapped the entire project. Fingers crossed...

paulijk
paulijk

The Xbox version is due for release on 28/11/2008 and the Pc version is for release on 01/05/2009..... I won't be holding my breath though.

gazzad
gazzad

Man is this game even being made anymore? I've been following it's progress for what seems like since the Xbox 360's release almost!

Llama_Girl
Llama_Girl

Why no info on this title for over a year ?? seems to have disappeared from sight as has Project offset and Dragon Age. We really don't appreciate the hype train put behind these titles only to turn completely stagnate for years on end . Update your site gentlemen or take it down.

Static-7
Static-7

This looks like the bomb! Contestant for game of the year, hopefully the gamplay is as good as the game looks.

lawfrye
lawfrye

This game has been in the makings for years...don't hold your breath! Don't get me wrong, I would love to play this game but as the years roll on and not even a peep out of the remedy team I have a bad feeling well just be adding this to the ever growing list, "games you wish would have come out, but never did"!

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

Expect Remedy to come out with something so atmospheric and dark just like Max Payne. Hope that Alan Wake does have an original gameplay like Max Payne did.

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

Expect Remedy to come out with something so atmospheric and dark just like Max Payne. Hope that Alan Wake does have an original gameplay like Max Payne did.

Limowrecked
Limowrecked

Maybe it's too soon to say this but i fell my impression wont change till i see the game so... as long as Remedy is involved i think we can expect good story-telling and nice gameplay but will it be scary? Well i really doubt that.

GCNfreak011
GCNfreak011

hey shaun, another big surprise is that his name is Alan, not Alex.

HiddenWarrior
HiddenWarrior

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

miksalud
miksalud

It's been 3 years since we heard for the first time about Alan Wake. Some news, a trailer and couple of pictures... the game sure looks cool, has a creepy atmosphere and all that mad/ hysteria/ schizophrenia + horror mambo jumbo. The thing is, when Remedy is around we should expect a decent game, and furthermore an excellent movie like horror experience. But, with all this delays, it's starting to look like all those awesome games that never got released (starcraft ghost, duke nukem forever anyone?). I hope Max Payne 3 releases faster then this one, its getting on my nerves.

ShaunFroggatt
ShaunFroggatt

Hm, well you will all be pleased to know one of the major suprises in the game is that alex has a split personality and you find out he kills his gf and dosnt remember till the end.

mikethemonkey
mikethemonkey

I have been waiting for this game for years....WTF?

gifteddie
gifteddie

we all want this game man I 've been waiting at leat 3 years for it.

Ice_man_1985
Ice_man_1985

I really really can't wait for this game.

LPH79
LPH79

I hope you are right gifteddie :) because i really want this game!

yarminKun
yarminKun

we can count on Remedy for an incredible story driven action game as always.

gifteddie
gifteddie

to everbody who worrie this game will get canned... Remedy have said on the Alan Wake site that they are way more than 70% finished with this game. They are just adding lot's of details and taking out minor glitches and weird plot stuff. This game has fall 2008 written all over it don't worry about it all we have to do is play the waiting game

J05h90
J05h90

wouldn't mind an update anytime soon..

LiveByMeDieByMe
LiveByMeDieByMe

I've wanted this game since before Xbox 360 came out.... when am i gonna be able to get my hands on it!?

vass86
vass86

i really hope they are still making this game. the date of this article is september 29th 2006. if i don't hear anything else by 2008 then i think it might be getting scrapped

robdaman111
robdaman111

Bczican015 hold on did u just compare what looked like sm dude standing at the end of a peer fishing to final fantasy u r jokin right ???

Holopaw
Holopaw

Ya, we definitely need more info on this game, it sounds really cool.

mckaine
mckaine

sounds pretty cool. i'm definetly looking forward to playing it.

konami145
konami145

wow, they're letting out less information than Bungie did for Halo 3

LordAndrew
LordAndrew

At least it was mentioned at Microsoft's press conference. Once.

MiXZeo
MiXZeo

its been a long time hope it comes soon...

sens_rocks_40
sens_rocks_40

i doubt this game will ever come out, but i sure hope it does

sunny_d3000
sunny_d3000

my best guess is, since they will be releasing this game Q4 of 2007 or Q1 of 2008, they will do something crazy at E3 (i hope)

The_Mad_Hatter
The_Mad_Hatter

i think this game will never see the light, is like star craft ghost, i even pre-order that game, i nothing. i think alan wake is or was a very ambitious project that ended up being impossible to bring to life.

blue-fish
blue-fish

Despite knowing diddley about this game I cant stop being very very curious, but this last update was 10 months ago, this is getting ridiculous.

thetraitor
thetraitor

when the hell are we gonna get an update for this game?

HomerLink122
HomerLink122

Third most anticipated game for me this year. Looks awesome, i'm just hoping they'll live up to the expectations. If they do, this could be something revolutionary.