Alan Wake re-emerges from the darkness trying higher than ever, and on the excellent time for reappraisal.
It’s been 11 years since Treatment took us to Vivid Falls and led us down the sort of deliciously demented path the developer has since turn into synonymous with. Now, with Management pushing Treatment to new heights (to not point out connecting with Wake’s world), a remaster of Alan Wake for a wider viewers makes plenty of sense. However is Alan’s shadowy journey worthy of a Stephen King-esque renaissance?
King is the touchstone for why many individuals fell in love with Alan Wake. His go-to plot setup of ‘an creator walks right into a horror story’ shapes the crux of Wake’s personal story, however generally, Treatment takes extra inspiration from Dean Koontz and David Lynch.
Esteemed crime author Alan Wake goes on trip together with his spouse, Alice, to the seemingly sleepy city of Vivid Falls to flee the high-pressure calls for of a e book tour. After settling into a comfortable cabin on Cauldron Lake, issues get bizarre. Alice seems to fall into the lake, and Alan dives in after her, however then he awakens behind the wheel of a crashed automobile within the woods. Not solely is his spouse lacking, however Vivid Falls is besieged by a legion of demonic shadows of the townsfolk referred to as ‘Taken’ and the darkish is out to kill him. Alan quickly finds the thriller goes far deeper, and will get far weirder than he initially believed. If he’s to outlive and unravel the key of Vivid Falls, Alan must combat darkness with mild…actually.
Whereas Alan can dispatch Taken with weapons, they’re most susceptible to mild sources. They’ll’t get near mild with out being surprised or killed, and as such, an important a part of Alan’s arsenal is the nice previous handheld flashlight. To be able to use weapons on Taken, Alan must shine a lightweight on them for a sure period of time to stun and weaken them first. A squeeze of L2 ‘goals’ the flashlight extra straight to hurry up the impact, however depletes its batteries, probably leaving Alan largely defenseless at nighttime. As the sport progresses, extra light-bringing instruments are added, together with a flare gun and flashbang grenades, each of which act as extra aggressive avenues of light-bringing dying to the Taken
One factor that works rather well for me is how the sport by no means allows you to preserve something for too lengthy. You solely ever discover what the sport needs you to seek out for the present scenario, and locations limits on how a lot you may maintain. This implies you usually go from being absolutely tooled up on the finish of 1 part to completely nothing in your pockets for the following. I get why which may be irritating for these absolutely weaned on video games that constantly develop and improve each character and arsenal, however for the story being advised, and the sort of man Alan Wake is (a reasonably unfit, noncombative author) this lack of consolation is totally acceptable and welcome.
There’s one side of the fight that does grate barely, nonetheless. Alan’s fumbling motion could make among the extra intense fight sequences an actual recreation of trial and error the place it’s good to get overwhelmed to dying by crowbars a number of instances earlier than you may determine what shortcut to survival the scenario is definitely calling for. Alan can dodge assaults, however its implementation feels a contact hit or miss because of its controller mapping and digicam.
All of this can be intimately acquainted to previous fingers, and whereas technical tweaks not less than guarantee it’s much less aggravating than it as soon as was, it didn’t stop it from standing out once more. Talking of technical enhancements, that’s what most are right here for, in spite of everything, Alan Wake largely falls into the identical remastering pile because the current Quake and Diablo II efforts by not poking and selecting on the core of issues an excessive amount of, and making some enhancements the place they had been wanted. Vivid Falls seems to be nice. The brand new lighting and upgraded texture element carry the sport a bit nearer to Management visually, while retaining the awkward appeal of the unique look.
The best way it stands out most is within the lighting. It’s at all times been basic to Alan Wake’s darkish/mild stability, however now it accentuates what was there with extra dazzling mild sources up shut, a correct gloomy glow to mild that’s within the distance. The darkish holds an unnerving menace at instances, all of the simpler due to the soundtrack’s ominous drone when threats are incoming. Nothing right here detracts from the unique model’s giddy, absurd, nightmarish environment.
Cutscenes get a lick of paint too, which I really feel is sort of at all times important when you’re going to remaster the remainder of the sport, however clearly, not each firm agrees when even this yr, there’s been some risibly low efforts. They aren’t a fantastic improve in all departments, some scenes simply don’t appear to gel with it, and there have been a few situations the place issues slowed down or stuttered, which didn’t seem to occur anyplace else within the precise recreation itself. It’s a minor misfire in an in any other case respectable remaster.
I feel that whereas the upgrades and enhancements are crucial and welcome, there’s little that might have prevented Alan Wake’s considerably goofy horror from resonating with a contemporary horror viewers because it as soon as was. The sport’s episodic television-style construction was a frightening, uncommon prospect in 2010, however there’s been a barrage of titles which have carried out the construction since (to various levels of success) so now it feels much more pure. The King renaissance and its impact on trendy horror tv additionally play a component, as too does the reappreciation for Twin Peaks with its return to screens within the years since Alan Wake was first launched. Throw in Treatment reintroducing Alan Wake by its most up-to-date hit, Management, and there merely isn’t a greater time for Wake to rise from his slumber.
Vivid Falls has a lot character, a lot unusual shit happening, and such an otherworldly really feel to it, and it simply begs to be revisited and correctly explored. Early elements of the sport set the environment, but it surely’s the latter half of the sport that basically units the tone. Right here’s the place it attracts truthful comparisons to King, because the meta nature of the sport spirals more and more into absurdity and the melodrama is wholly welcome as a reduction from the foreboding darkness. The Koontz inspiration stays, for my part (a mysterious scenario with a seemingly unattainable evil presence hounding the protagonist is simply as a lot Koontz’s bread and butter as King’s is ‘author walks right into a horror story’), however turns into much less prevalent. The now established connection to Management additionally provides the occasions of this recreation a contemporary perspective.
It’s good to have the extra DLC episodes in right here as effectively. I hadn’t performed them till this assessment, and I actually loved what they added to the sport. In some methods, they really feel extra like a bridging hole between what Treatment had completed, and what it needed to do relatively than simply the remainder of Alan Wake’s story, however that in itself me.
I’ve lately written that with remasters, I actually recognize them once they don’t attempt to overlook the issues of the unique, however as an alternative simply clean the sides off them in a refined method. Alan Wake Remastered is a kind of, and whereas it has its moments of frustration and you’ll generally chortle on the overzealous, however admirable, dedication to having Alan narrate the fuck out of every part, it really is part of the bundle, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Alan Wake Remastered assessment code for PS5 offered by the writer.
Alan Wake Remastered is out October 5 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Sequence X/S, and PC by way of the Epic Video games Retailer