(This piece was originally written in 2011 as a Facebook note)
About one and a half months back I was browsing the games shelf in a local department store. I happened to come upon a copy of Alan Wake. The price had been considerably lowered. I think the original cost was 50+ EUR, but now it was only 19,95 EUR. Needless to say I bought it.
I remember that the game received high scores on the gaming press, however, I was not sure about the sales. Definitively not the figures of, say Modern Warfare 2, but not a disaster either. Alan Wake was “No. 1 video game of 2010” on Time Magazine. And I can fully understand, why.
After installing the game, the player is thrown into a dark, eerie tutorial world, a glimpse of what to expect in the future. Tutorial demonstrates quite nicely the combat mechanics against the people possessed by darkness; the player must first burn the darkness away with flashlight, then shoot a few rounds with a revolver at the possessed. Intensified light burns more rapidly, but consumes energy also. Both energy and health restore themselves automatically, health taking quite a long time.
After the tutorial the game begins as a seemingly normal, but highly visual adventure game. No signs of supernatural lures the player first into thinking that the game has a distinct light and dark world. Soon the truth starts revealing itself, piece by piece.
After the action started in the dark night of Bright Falls, I was ecstatic. And it kept that way through the entire published game content. What made Alan Wake hit the sweet spot for me? The kick-ass atmosphere. I played the game in a dark room, in the middle of a night, alone, wearing earphones and earmuffs to keep outside noise, well, outside. The immersion I was dragged into was something unbelievable. Discovering new possessed hunting you, dodging knifes in a dramatic slow-motion, burning darkness away in a tactical pattern, and finally finishing them off by shooting, unbelievable thrill. And the seemingly impossible fights with hordes of enemies.. very much rewarding after figuring out the right pattern and beating them up completely. The general eerie atmosphere brings back warm memories from childhood horror games like Alone In the Dark. You truly are “in there” in Alan Wake.
Complete with good storyline, nice music and excellent visuals makes this game into my all time top 3 on Xbox360. Alan Wake is quite a long play to my standards, and I’m very happy with that. It took me about 3 crunch nights to play the base game through with harder difficulty, and about 3 nights more for the 2 sequels. I enjoyed every second.
(I later bought the game also to PC via Steam)