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Author Topic: Alan Wake  (Read 4920 times)

KvP

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Alan Wake
« on: 22 May 2010, 17:57 »

Anybody play it? I got it along with Red Dead Redemption and I've just started. So far the combat mechanics seem pretty okay. My thoughts -

The game starts off with "Stephen King once said..." and that right there pretty much lets you know where the game's going. Alan Wake is essentially a pastiche of Stephen King touchstones (writer protagonist + small town setting + supernatural evil), with a hefty bag of nods to other defining horror / mystery media. The Pacific Northwest setting and sense of the woods being a home to supernatural evil are straight out of Twin Peaks, as is an old woman character who cradles an inanimate object with her wherever she goes and who seems to have a greater knowledge of what's going on than anyone else (though she speaks in riddles). There's a smoke monster. Etc.

This is boilerplate stuff, so far. And it's fun for the moment, when I can pick out all the references, but I'm 99% sure that the fun will wear off. As the AV Club noted in their review, the telegraphing of plot points and stupidly literal narration is a hindrance. When a maniac strikes a door with an axe the narration states "the man struck the door with an axe just like Nicholson in the Shining". The main character's VA is passable but not great (the other characters seem better). One of the central conceits of the game is that you go around and pick up pages to a manuscript that sort of narrate the story in advance, which I guess is supposed to be spooky but all it does is deflate tension, since you know several minutes in advance when and how a character will die, or a momentous plot point will be revealed. Again, this being in the early game (I'm on the second chapter), they could turn this around. There's been one or two instances where you'll find a page in which the future will be foretold but key info will be left out, and that's somewhat suspenseful.

This is from the same team that made Max Payne and they share a lot of elements, to Alan Wake's detriment. The VA is one such example - the pulpy overwrought humor of Max Payne lent itself to the hardboiled PI narration, but here, where an attempt is made to convey actual suspense and drama, it doesn't really work. There are also some common gameplay elements - you can turn on TVs and watch a Twilight Zone-esque show called "Night Falls", ala Max Payne's immortal "Lords and Ladies".

Really the game feels like a full-length game made up of the dream sequences from Max Payne. It's a fun game to play, but I doubt I'll remember it much after I'm done (Alan Wank, more like). It may yet surprise me. For now, though, it's more silly than creepy. Every time you encounter an enemy it's exactly like you're up against a game full of the drugged-out mental patients from Max Payne, doing the typical "yell mundane things in a crayzee voice" maniac thing. Ho hum.

Anybody else play it?
« Last Edit: 22 May 2010, 18:04 by KvP »
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #1 on: 22 May 2010, 18:14 »

It should be right in my wheelhouse on so many levels and yet it makes me want to punch the writers right in the mouth sometimes. I hate to admit this, but I don't even really mind boilerplate Stephen King level prose anymore. When it comes to books direct, obvious and sorta clumsy is fine by me, since frankly, some people actually ARE direct, obvious and sorta clumsy. Maybe it's not the most elegant voice, but it IS a voice. But in a video game? Eh, I don't need everything telegraphed and spoon fed to me when I'm playing a video game; I expect to have to figure out a thing or two every once in a while when I'm playing a game. Plus, the marriage of good audio and visuals with clumsy narration makes for a weird dichotomy you just don't get when reading. Even a crappy book is usually pretty consistently crappy.
« Last Edit: 22 May 2010, 18:20 by Alex C »
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #2 on: 22 May 2010, 18:24 »

Part of me wants to think it's just writers who are used to other languages. Maybe it was just coincidental that Max Payne turned out as well as it did.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #3 on: 22 May 2010, 19:34 »

I was thinking about getting this game and then I heard about the Stephen King quote, that was the deal breaker.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #4 on: 22 May 2010, 19:54 »

Yeah this is pretty much exactly a Stephen King game. Like, exactly. The twists are all King twists. It's not getting any better.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #5 on: 22 May 2010, 22:41 »

And after a few hours of sloggin' through shadow people in a mine (didn't see that one coming) there's another twist and things start to get interesting. Sort of. Onward and upward.

*edit - Okay this game is now Duma Key.
« Last Edit: 22 May 2010, 22:44 by KvP »
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #6 on: 23 May 2010, 00:42 »

whoa i have problems with king's plotting and characterization at times but he's a really fine craftsman so everyone dissing the actual quality of this game's prose by saying it's of stephen king's calibre can step the fuck off
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #7 on: 23 May 2010, 01:02 »

From what I've heard, the Steven King influences are very very intentional, to the point where the narration is intended to be kind of hamfisted. I've heard mixed things, the guys at Giant Bomb seem to really like it although apparently it runs out of steam a bit at the end. I haven't read the SA thread since the first 20 pages or so were endless bitching and moaning about the cancellation of the PC port. It's probably gotten better since the game actually came out, I might go read through it in the next few days. If I do end up getting this game, it'll have to be later, since Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Alpha Protocol are pretty much all I can permit myself to buy for the next few weeks.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #8 on: 23 May 2010, 01:28 »

whoa i have problems with king's plotting and characterization at times but he's a really fine craftsman so everyone dissing the actual quality of this game's prose by saying it's of stephen king's calibre can step the fuck off
I don't have issue with the prose. It's more just the constant stating of the obvious by the narrator (it'd make a fine drinking game). My main issue with the game is that it is really truly just like some manuscript King would've written and tossed off in the last 10 years made into a game. Major and minor elements all jibe like the ancient Lovecraftian evil at the bottom of the lake, and the power certain places have over people and artists in particular. It's common to all King's works and Alan Wake's plot is unmistakably similar to Duma Key.

At least they own up to it all. King is name-dropped several times. In the beginning, and if that wasn't obvious enough, the writer of the manuscript which determines the game's events says "Stephen King was my biggest influence" at one point. Yeah, no shit.

Also, the game is kinda boring up until Episode 3 or so, where it kicks into gear and improves quite a bit. I'm having a lot of fun with it now.
« Last Edit: 23 May 2010, 01:30 by KvP »
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #9 on: 23 May 2010, 03:18 »

One thing that kinda sucks about the game is that it suffers from a pretty bad case of Bioshock Syndrome - they've got a potentially interesting twist on TPS combat and they go and waste it on 4 different types of enemies. For the vast, vast majority of the game there are just 2. There's the smaller melee / throwing guy (basically the villager from Resident Evil 4 + shadow armor) and a bigger, tougher melee guy. Every once in awhile you'll also run afoul of flocks of birds and poultergeist'd objects (there are quasi-boss battles in possessed vehicles and much tougher melee dudes, every once in awhile). And you run into the same guys throughout the game.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #10 on: 23 May 2010, 03:31 »

Yeah that was the chief complaint in the Giant Bomb review: that the core combat is fun and interesting, but the developers just didn't do enough with it to last the entire length of the game.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #11 on: 27 Aug 2013, 14:50 »

I'm gonna bring this back from the dead, because I've been listening to music from the game and it makes me think about it some more.

Now thing is, yeah, totally, a lot of what's talked about in this thread is valid, and you could go see Yahtzee Croshaw's review and I'd say that's fair as well: not enough variation of core mechanics, levels sometimes drag on too long, some lost chances at short-term drama and suspense, hits the Stephen King tropes pretty hard, etc.

This is still one of my favored games, though. While they do need *something* to break them up a bit more, the mechanics are usually neat, the game excels at delivering creepy set pieces and situations, the story unfolds in a usually neat way (though I'm a real sucker for the kind of work King tends to put out, so take that as you will), and for my money it's one of the best uses of licensed music in a video game ever, let alone the couple songs Poets of the Fall did for it.

Also, because I just remembered it, I'm gonna go ahead and paste in a little thinking I did about the core game last month or so (because I overthink these things sometimes).

(click to show/hide)

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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #12 on: 27 Aug 2013, 14:51 »

Now all that said, I'm thinking about picking up the extra episodes sometime this next month. Anyone else play through and find them worthwhile? I'm leaning towards 'yeah, probably', but hey, sometimes I dodge a bullet (like with Mass Effect's second purchasable addition).

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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #13 on: 28 Aug 2013, 14:29 »

They're going a long way of making the end a little more satisfying.
Just so you know, I friggin loved this game

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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #14 on: 29 Aug 2013, 03:46 »

Played it a couple years back with my GF, we stayed up overnight to just play this, so I don't know if the game was great or I am tainted by my experience playing it. Will have to replay soon.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #15 on: 29 Aug 2013, 13:20 »

Fittingly enough, I'm about to restart this game, because I never finished it, and always wanted to. 

Will be adding to the conversation soon.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #16 on: 29 Aug 2013, 17:57 »

Oh, and
(click to show/hide)

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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #17 on: 18 Sep 2013, 20:03 »

Now all that said, I'm thinking about picking up the extra episodes sometime this next month. Anyone else play through and find them worthwhile? I'm leaning towards 'yeah, probably', but hey, sometimes I dodge a bullet (like with Mass Effect's second purchasable addition).

The DLCs are definitely worth it, especially 'The Writer'.  And you might consider getting American Nightmare as well.  I'll just come right out and say it's not as good as the original game and its DLCs, but it is still a memorable experience.  Plus, there's a 'Fight Til Dawn' mode which plays somewhat like Gears of War's Horde mode but isn't multiplayer.  That's if you're in the mood for way too much action, hehe.
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #18 on: 19 Sep 2013, 12:35 »

American Nightmare was pretty nice in the sense that they did try to change the formula a bit. And the game and the story were somewhat enjoyable.

But I have to admit I've played it once and never touched it again.

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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #19 on: 20 Sep 2013, 04:57 »

American Nightmare was pretty nice in the sense that they did try to change the formula a bit. And the game and the story were somewhat enjoyable.

But I have to admit I've played it once and never touched it again.

Actually, I think it was all the changes that made it not as good as the original game.  The atmosphere isn't as spooky, IMO.  You can see all the enemies a mile away because you're no longer in the woods having to discern tree from foe!  Your flashlight recharges at a ridiculously fast pace, so you rarely have to strategize about exactly how long to boost, who to target first, etc.  The added weapons (particularly the semi-automatics) just draw your attention away from survival and toward KILLING GRUBS! - or, sorry, the Taken - thought I was discussing Gears of War for a second for some reason?  :wink: And then there's the fact that Alan has the stamina to literally outrun any Taken in the game.  And since you're almost never trapped with the Taken anywhere, the game could just as easily be survived by bolting the opposite direction.  These were all things the team that created American Nightmare "fixed" in response to criticism of the original, no doubt.  Shows to go ya, sometimes even the players don't really know what they want in a game and what they're better off without!

Be my luck, for the sequel, they'll give Alan a "Super Clicker" in the middle of the game so one press of a button will annihilate all enemies in a five mile radius  :-(
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Re: Alan Wake
« Reply #20 on: 21 Sep 2013, 08:48 »

Be my luck, for the sequel, they'll give Alan a "Super Clicker" in the middle of the game so one press of a button will annihilate all enemies in a five mile radius  :-(

Shhhh...  No spoiling the 'Hammer of Alan' weapon upgrade.

 :wink:
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