Alan Wake Review

Killer storytelling and creative demon slaying make the haunting Alan Wake one for the books.

Darkness is a powerful force. Not knowing what lies beyond the safety of the light can be absolutely terrifying to those with an overactive imagination. But fearful fantasy turns deadly in the bucolic town of Bright Falls, Washington, where the whispering shadows hold untold horrors that reach out from the darkness. Alan Wake spins into an intensely atmospheric psychological thriller that bends the barrier between reality and fiction until it snaps, delivering a chilling story-driven experience without leaning too heavily on schlocky gore. With a beautifully updated graphics engine and free pack-in downloadable content that fills in some of the gaps left by the original's cliff-hanger ending, the PC version is worth the long wait.

That sure as heck wasn't a coyote.

For successful big-city writer Alan Wake, a much-needed vacation to the remote countryside turns nightmarish as he is beset by demonic beasts and haunted by a malevolent paranormal presence that seeks to destroy him. When Wake's wife goes missing from their lakeside cabin retreat, he sets out into the dark woods to find her and winds up a protagonist in his own horror novel--one he doesn't remember ever writing. Unfolding across six TV-show-like episodes, the main story features top-notch suspense packed with memorable characters, humorous moments, bizarre plot twists, and an abundance of eeriness. Wake's narration of each freaky event as it unfolds in and around Bright Falls weaves an inner monologue laced with self-doubt and disbelief. It makes him an intriguing, troubled character and serves as one of many effective storytelling mechanics put into play.

Manuscript pages found scattered throughout each chapter flesh out the tale in other ways too, offering backstory and perspective on the creepy town, its people, and what's happening to them. These snippets of narrative text are most potent when they describe horrific foreshadowed events that have yet to happen to Wake. It's pleasantly nerve-racking to pick up a page that describes a gruesome encounter only to realize a few minutes later that you've just stumbled into the setting where its about to take place. Alan Wake's classy horror vibe relies on escalating tension and building suspense to keep you hooked. You might not jump out of your chair outright, but expect sweaty palms and general anxiousness at every turn on the gripping trek through this unsettling tale.

You'll need more than a shabby blazer and a hoodie to survive in these parts.

Bright Falls is anything but--the gloomy mountainside town is a patchwork of gas stations, a small downtown with shops and houses, a radio station, a sawmill, an abandoned farm, underground mines, scattered pockets of communities, and lots of wilderness. It's an isolated place cloaked in dark mystery, which provides a fitting, rural setting for the supernatural adventure to play out. Exploring the diverse terrain through each distinct area, often with little more than a flashlight or dim lamp in the distance to light the way, is simply captivating. These remote vistas were hauntingly beautiful on the Xbox 360, but the extra visual details, enhanced lighting, and overall crispness found in the PC version make it even more impressive. While some of the character animations feel a little jerky and dated at times, the tightly crafted presentation gives off a great moody atmosphere.

More than just a thematic hook to hang the journey on, light and darkness are integral components of Alan Wake's unique combat system. The demonically possessed entities that come howling out of the woods at Wake are sensitive to light. Using flares, flashlights, flashbang grenades, and other sources of bright illumination is the only way to hold them at bay and weaken the beasts enough to finish them off with a revolver, shotgun, hunting rifle, or another conventional weapon you pick up along the way. Other times light alone suffices, like when murders of crows swarm at you from the skies or when inanimate objects suddenly spring to life and hurtle toward you fueled by raw evil.

Thankfully, venturing off the obvious path reveals secret stashes to help in the fight. Scrounging every hiding spot for ammo and batteries turns into an obsession, and the stretches where these precious resources dwindle often lead to moments of panic-stricken chaos as you frantically try to dodge and weave your way to the nearest light source to escape being ripped apart. Since stopping foes requires a sustained blast of light that drains your flashlight, you're often forced to use it conservatively while also tackling large gangs of insidious creatures. This injects tension into every surprise encounter. It's a great, crafty battle system, even if the initial thrill it provides wanes slightly further in the game when such encounters become more predictable.

Flares buy you precious seconds to react.

In addition to the main story campaign, the PC version includes two DLC installments, The Signal and The Writer, that serve as a two-part continuation of the main plot and delve deeper into Wake's troubled psyche with a more surreal take on the twisted world he finds himself in. While the DLC gets off to a predictable start reminiscent of the main game, the second half breaks out of the box with weirder environments and a climactic conclusion. Even if they don't add much in terms of fresh gameplay, these story-expanding diversions do set things up for an eventual proper sequel and are absolutely worth playing.

Alan Wake feels right at home on the PC. While it retains some of the repetitive elements of the original console version, it does look prettier, and the extra content free of charge is a welcome addition to the package. Even the minor flaws are forgivable when you soak in the heady ambiance and get caught up in the foreboding current of this spook story. Killer storytelling, creative combat, and some of the slickest horror atmosphere you can find in a game make this supernatural showdown a memorable excursion to the dark side.

Did you enjoy this review?

  • The Good
    Strong writing and creative storytelling
    Creepy without being campy
    Dynamic combat is tight
    Improved graphics
    The Bad
    Encounters grow repetitive by the end
    Some character animations look dated
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    106 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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    Could not keep going beyond chapter 2, utterly bored. You soon get the idea - passable story linking you to the next linear run though the night to shine your torch on and shoot baddies. A console shooter dressed up as an intelligent game.

    In 2014 the graphics can no longer carry it either, the trouble with going for realistic graphics (for the time) is that they date faster than any others.

    You get the feeling the developers started with big aspirations for this game, then thought screw it, a simple shooter is much easier to make and where the easy cash is. Uninstalled and i'll pass on the American Nightmare expansion i also bought.


    Absolutely love this game. I agree, some of the fighting gets a little repetitive, but the story and immersive atmosphere more than make up for any of that. Not the scariest game I've ever played, but it gave me goosebumps more times than I could count. Plus the quality of the story telling is in a whole different league than even most AAA games out there; I felt like it was a game had maturity and class which doesn't alienate older gamers (31 here). First episode was my favorite (loved the music and intro to the town).


    loved it hope they make a sequel


    Holy crap, I just bought the Alan Wake franchise for 90% off on steam. $4 for the whole thing, or $3 for the main game. The sale is on until Sunday night for those interested. I love steam sales.


    I was really enjoying this up to episode 3. Then it just gets infuriating. Two especially tough encounters back to back equals rage, not a satisfying challenge. I hate games that make me so frustrated I have to take breaks. It kills the flow, which in a story driven game, is just plain stupid. We'll see if the rest of the game redeems itself. When my nerd rage subsides.


    << LINK REMOVED >>

    Overall I died like 4 times in the game ( 2 from being careless and falling down ) L2P brah <3


    Awesome game, shame there arent more like it. Scary and atmospheric in the beginning but if they made enemies more powerful and less numerous it wouldnt get so repetitive by the end. The story was a bit confusing and the manuscript pages had spoilers (thats why i didnt read them until i finished the level) but overall its excellent.


    << LINK REMOVED >> The fact that the manuscripts spoiled what was to come was part of the story, and one of the reasons it was unique.


    << LINK REMOVED >> The manuscript pages aren't spoilers, they are part of the game. It's an intentional storytelling technique intended to foreshadow.


    Looks really really good with my new OC i7 + GTX 680 with all settings maxed... Super pretty and atmospheric game.. Definitely worth just experiencing the world.


    "Encounters grow repetitive by the end"

    Pretty sure there are basically only 3 kind of enemies. The shadow guys being the most common. So the encounters feel repetitive after the 2nd chapter, not the end. Good game, but it could have used more kind of enemies like some comments said.

    Strange GS didn't highlight this negative point in the X360 version.


    << LINK REMOVED >> I respectfully disagree. I propose the similarity and abundance of enemies is one of the game's strong points. It fits with the theme of the story. What were you expecting, aliens, leprechauns, dragons? The Darkness can only infest people and objects.


    I've played the game, it is amazing, but the graphics isn't that good to be honest, I felt so!!


    This game is awesome, please Alan Wake 2 >_<


    << LINK REMOVED >> Yes,Do not worry it will be alane wake 2.


    I thought about a game which is about dreams, nightmares when i first played Max Payne. After playing Max Payne 2 : Fall of Max Payne, i said myself "oh god, dream scenes were awesome, i wish they made a game about dreams and nightmares". I played Alan Wake and i've seen that my wish has come true. Game is really good if you want a movie-like game. However, don't expect great action scenes like Max Payne 3 etc. but don't worry, you get a pistol and shoot the "things" at least. This game has a feeling that you're inside a good movie. Anyone who says this game is boring absolutely never played Dear Esther :D Alan Wake : 8.5/10 from me.


    This game doesn't really do it for me. It's a well made game with a good storyline and creates a good atmosphere. Just found the gameplay really boring and repetitive. The game is totally linear. It's just a case of following the 1 path available through the game, fighting off a few badies on the way and watching the videos inbetween. There's no thinking involved with this game either, the game just tells you exactly what to do and where to go at every stage. Good, well made game if you like that sort of thing but I much prefer open world style game play with variety, choice and where the player has to figure things out. Only played about half the game and was thoroughly bored with it.


    << LINK REMOVED >> You sound like a very boring person.


    << LINK REMOVED >> I think you never played Dear Esther then :D


    Download it.


    Cool game. A bit pretentious, sometimes, but it has really well written lines (not the manuscript pages, they suck). And it's best console port I've seen in eons


    << LINK REMOVED >> Why do "they suck"? Can you back up your criticism or can you safely be ignored?


    << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Can't really recall 'why' after all that time, but I guess it's very subjective anyway. Still better love story than twilight tho.


    Great game!


    it relies too much on story than action ! which becomes boring at some levels .


    the last horror game i had play was alone in the dark 4 and i can tell you was much better than this.and what a terrble ending........


    its not just a game, its a movie


    its not just a game, its a movie.......................


    this game was amazing!


    The story in this game is outstanding! The game is great from start to finish with enough mind bending and emotion to keep you gripped! I recommend it to anybody !




    how does the control ? in keyboard


    << LINK REMOVED >> Play it with default controls, but you need to change the manuscript pages control and make it left alt instead of F5 button,beside the game with its deafult controls is easy to control the game.Hope you enjoy a great game.


    The loading times in this game seriously stun me...


    Very atmospheric enviroment, creepy with nice graphics and epic story! Really great game!!!


    the nailed it with the repetitiveness towards the end, the game only has two types of enemies all together, it could have used more, some demon dogs or stuff...but otherwise good atmosfere mostly, gave it 8.5 as well


    I played an hour , very cool atmosphere, reminds me of Stephen King's novels. I remember how bad I sweared Remedy when they announced years ago they decided to abandon the pc version. Now I know why;)


    Great game,can't wait for Alan Wake 2


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


    Amazing game


    just played it couple of hours ago.. it was a very engaging experience! nice job fr remedy putting it on PC! now can't wait for max payne 3


    Very Max Payne like...shouldn't be a suprise since it's from the same developer but it really reminded me how much I loved those games


    If you're playing games for their single player experience and their story, than you're in the right place and you'll absolutely love the Bright Falls!


    Amazing game!


    Played was fun especially the combat once you mastered it....


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


    @omgmike23 dude your missing the entire point, i never mentioned multiplayer, you did. You must remember in alpha stage alan wake the entire island was accessible but remedy dumbed it down due time constraints and how open world would conflict with narative. While there are no games on market that have free-roam set in alan wake universe on console, do consider cars are no fundemetal role in alan-wake pretty much everything in alan wake is sandboxed while linear as it is u'll stumble across parts where imagination knows that it wasn't linear until developers clamped down on games core engine. There's so many games that fall in this category...... But remedy forgot one thing!!!. how to break away from generic to a game that stands apart. While silent hills linear lets just hope they didn't fall to constraints alan wake did, if it did then welcome to stone age. P's, yes i'll be modding !@# outta alan wake so i can really utilize engine, couldn't care less if it's protected (ip) i want what this game was originally designed and intended for. Plus from what i can tell this games been in developement for ages and if you thought what i did back when it was announced then you would've noticed it as open sand box open woeld horror game. I guess that's why developers get away with so many things these days like dead island, developers prefer your imagination running when you're druel over those images/screenshots or even clips it means they have your attention til end.


    << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Shutup troll. It's Remedy's product, not yours. They can do whatever they like to it and are not obligated to explain anything. Go back to your private world where game companies exist to kiss your butt. Besides, Alan Wake is a great game and works fine as a linear shooter.


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


    one of the good games indeed


    best game


    AW while very good looking and the atmosphere is good has some basic flaw. Its unbelievable boring. The gameplay is exactly as shallow as mainstream console "handbook" dictates which is a bad thing to be honest. Neither my brother nor i could force ourselves to play the dlc after the main game. There is virtually nothing to do. Its a casual corridor PRESS X(start generator, open door) game with the same repetitive combat encounters over and over again ad nauseum. Actually I wished during my playthrough it would be SHORTER which is not very often. THe Gamyspy 6/10 is one i completely agree with. ITs a case of wasted potential. Great gfx and interesting story but the gameplay is nearly unbearable after few hours after you played enough of "PRESS X". I would rate it as many oscar movies. Its a good game/movie but a horribly boring one.


    @lorddaggeroff what are you 12? Alan Wake is an AWESOME single player experience, I don't know about anyone else but im getting quite sick of mediocre campaign only to have an even more mediocre multiplayer. Alan wake has A VERY COMPELLING campaign and that's what they were focused on, they didn't have their mind split between a crappy story and a crappy multiplayer. Nuff Said.


    A really superb single-player experience from the guys at remedy. I played the 360 version and now the PC!!! The added visual improvements sure add greater value to the pc version. Of course you also get the developer commentary, which is great!!!


    this game is awesome I played it on xbox360 and on pc glad to play with better graphics on pc, but I think plays better with a controller than keyboard and mouse, I tried both on pc


    been playing it a little bit at a time. It's amazing so far, I haven't played a game like this in a long time.


    God i cannot wait till modders tear this game apart. Well i want to any way. kill story and focus on gta style silent hill game with out dumb scripts. Seriously remedys killed allan wake.


    I didn't know this was coming out until a week before. Made me very happy. I finished it and it's an excellent game all around (great controls, visuals, story). Wake's voice actor is a bit flat and it can get a bit repetitive at some parts but not annoyingly so... and $30 for this quality is a great price. If you are into this kind of game then you'll probably like it.


    It's games like this one that makes me proud to be a gamer


    The controls are fine with KB & M. At least they are after you figure out that "w" doesn't move you straight where the camera is facing but where Alan is facing. Takes a little getting used to.


    finished it 2 yrs ago with my 360 !!! now im surprised that they finally managed to release it for pc !!!

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    Alan Wake More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    Alan Wake is a psychological thriller set in the American Northwest.
    Average Rating6621 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Alan Wake
    Developed by:
    Remedy Entertainment
    Published by:
    Remedy Entertainment, E-Frontier, Nordic Games Publishing, Microsoft Game Studios
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Survival
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    All Platforms
    Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence