Wednesday, August 4

Glaring Omission

You'll have to forgive me loyal readers, I haven't been able to fit in much gaming this week. Last night I spent some more time with Alan Wake, completing the much improved third episode. My complaints about repetitive combat were remedied (ha! developer pun) by the bereavement of weapons for a substantial portion of the level. The game is starting to display elements of successful survival horror titles:
  • Limited means to combat/subdue enemies
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Horror
In its first two levels, Alan Wake lacked the above to the point where the action felt uninspired. I always had a full cache of ammunition for the standard issue revolver as well as batteries for the Taken-disabling torch. Because of the overabundance of ammo for the standard weapon, I assumed I would be taking on more formidable creatures and saved more powerful weapons for threats that never materialised. In the third level, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the combat sequences were more difficult, but I did find a use for those shotgun shells I'd been hauling for hours. Environmental hazards literally leapt forward to attack Wake in this level, and were a welcome addition to the formula. For the first time since commecing the adventure, I actually found a sequence that claimed the titular writer's life several times. Also, finally, there were some moments where I felt nervous, almost anxious of what would appear when whispers were heard in the dark.

All things considered however, Alan Wake lacks the elements of all survival horror games which make the greatest impact: gore, viscera, blood.  As I've disclosed in previous posts, seeing all the horrible ways that Leon S Kennedy could die in Resident Evil 4 compelled me to fight tooth and nail for his well-being. In other survival horror titles such as Dead Space (which I am yet to play, but have watched my brother engage with), the consequences of failure are so apparent, so brutally obvious, that you would do your utmost to survive. In Alan Wake, death causes the screen to fade to black. Wake doesn't even make much of a fuss when he expires, just rag-dolling to the ground. I think I would take the game a little more seriously if one of those many thrown sickles and knives remained lodged in the protagonist's skull upon death. Even if Wake screamed, made some audible expression of dread, indicating his untimely demise.    

I am still enjoying the game, but I just can't help but think that something is missing.


  1. I couldn't really see my self getting into Alan wake. I picked up Batman: AA GOTY edition for $50!!! fantastic value, and omg that game is so damn fun. I love batman, and I like how they used the comic book version of the joker!

  2. BATMAN!!! One of the best games of 2009, and the best game based on a licensed character. No doubt!

    Alan Wake is a compelling game, but for every good idea there are 5 bad design choices. Disappointing.