Alan Wake Updated Impressions

We tune in for another cliff-hanger episode of the upcoming 360 horror game Alan Wake.

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We've been led to believe that in the upcoming Xbox 360-exclusive Alan Wake, the light is your friend. This horror thriller set in a small American town pits the title character against a mysterious darkness which has taken over the townsfolk (and the occasional inanimate object), and the only way to break through an enemy's darkness shield is with light--any form of light. All of the gameplay we've seen so far of Alan Wake, therefore, has focused on Alan using flashlights, flares, and other dark-dispelling tools to vanquish his foes. But it seems light won't always be Alan's friend, as the latest demo Remedy Games rolled out behind closed doors at TGS showed.

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What's New: In the new level demoed by Remedy, Alan is on the run from FBI Agent Nightingale. Nightingale is convinced that Alan is actually the one responsible for all of the bad events which have overrun the sleepy town of Bright Falls, Washington, and has dispatched the town's deputies on a manhunt to track Alan down. This level takes place in a creepy forest at night, with Alan having to make his way along a rocky path as deputies' flashlights sweep the forest for him.

While previous levels we've seen of Alan Wake had the main character sticking as close as possible to any light source, this time around Alan was forced to avoid light at any cost. At one point, Alan had to carefully sneak underneath a wooden bridge while two deputies patrolled on top, waving their flashlights around. Soon after, one of the deputies set off a flare high in the sky, allowing them to see Alan and to start firing their weapons on him. Flashlight-less and weapon-less, Alan had no choice but to run until he was once again lost in the dark of the forest.

Of course, Alan's enemies aren't limited to humans. Later in the level, Alan had managed to make his way up a path overlooking the forest, while below you could still see the deputies' flashlights searching. Suddenly, the whole forest seemed to get darker--this was soon followed by the deputies' screams as they were attacked by an unseen assailant. Our demo driver continued to take Alan up the path, when suddenly a police helicopter appeared and trained its large spotlight directly on the hapless fugitive. The police started firing from the helicopter, forcing Alan to seek cover. But again, the unknown evil infecting Bright Falls appeared, manifesting itself as a large group of bats from the surrounding darkness. These bats then attacked the chopper, forcing it to crash-land in the forest below.

If you thought Alan was scot-free at that stage, then you'd be wrong. Possessed villagers then appeared behind Alan, with two more climbing up the sheer cliff face behind him to trap him. We'd love to tell you how he gets out of this one, but as has become the standard with the episodic cliff-hanger nature the team at Remedy is trying to infuse Alan Wake with, the demo ended with the words "To Be Continued" appearing on the screen.

What's Different: Remedy demonstrated how it plans to switch gameplay around at times during Alan Wake, with a "seek dark" objective in this level as opposed to the "seek light" objective it has showed off previously. And while we didn't actually see it, our Remedy reps tells us there will be daytime levels in the game. These day events will allow Alan to interact with the various townsfolk of Bright Falls, as well as get into some scary situations inside darkened buildings.

What's The Same: The game still looks great, making outstanding use of lights and shadow to create a compelling mood. Adding to the tension was the excellent audio, which ramped up the excitement because Alan could hear the deputies searching for him but could not see them. A good surround system or top headphones may be a must for this game.

What Impression The Game Made This Time: It’s moody, atmospheric, and exciting and made us want to see more. And we should have more on Alan Wake soon, so keep it locked to GameSpot.

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