This review contains spoilers.
To say I was excited when Sam Lake announced the remaster of this spooky thriller would be an understatement. I’m not gonna lie, Alan Wake is in my top five favourite games of all time, and is the only game I’ve given a perfect score to during my time at Respawning. It should be no surprise that I love this remaster but there are a few things I’ve noticed that some may not be happy with even in the first few hours of the game…but for me there are no deal breakers and the experience is still perfect.
Your first question might be: What / who is Alan Wake? Well, it’s a game about a writer whose wife takes him on a trip to help him get over his writers block, only for him to end up losing a week of his life having to battle shadow creatures to find out what the hell happened in the fictional American town of Bright Falls. Alan loses a week of his life as it transpires the cabin he was staying in had sunk to the bottom of the lake it was on way back in the 1970’s and his wife, Alice, is missing.
Alan Wake(s) up (sorry that was unavoidable) in a car hanging over a cliff after a big ol’ bash on his noggin, and must pass through spooky woods finding journal pages (a collectable throughout the game) as he goes which seem to predict the future. They appear to have been written by Wake himself, though he has no memory of it, and they speak of meeting a shadowy man with a bloody axe. The mystery really begins to unfold in a Stephen King style tale told in a TV episode format, which is just fantastic, surrounded by an awesome sound track featuring Roy Orbison, David Bowie and the Poets of the Fall or The Old Gods Of Asgard as they are portrayed in the game.
This game is a linear experience driven by its core story, but boasts beautiful environments which are fairly large and highly detailed, steeped in world building lore ranging from a lumber mill, mines, run down farms, a festival stage and train graveyards. Alan Wake (the game not the man) had a big influence on games with rural town settings such as Life is Strange, Thimbleweed Park, Earthworms and a slew of others.
Its main pull is the action where you have to use light in a variety of ways to burn away the shadows surrounding enemies you encounter before you can kill them. It makes for some really tense moments as the ‘Taken’ surround and swarm you with a range of attacks, as well as having to deal with flocks of crows and poltergeist items all at once. Don’t panic, as Alan acquires a large array of tools ranging from flares, flare guns and flash bangs to help dispatch these creepy ghouls.
All of this makes for one kick ass game with a great, intriguing story that had me gripped from the beginning, so much so I have 100% completed it many times and will do so again on the PlayStation 5 where it will be my second ever Platinum trophy. On that thought, it is odd to play Alan Wake on a PlayStation seeing Sony icons instead of the usual Xbox button prompts, though this was only slightly off-putting for a short time.
I’m sure you want to know what’s good and bad about Alan Wake Remastered as a remaster. On the positive side the frame rate has improved with it hitting way above the original 30FPS, more often than not hitting 60FPS. Lighting has also been improved which must have been a difficult task as it was already amazing in the original version of the game, but it has to be noted that the lack of ray tracing was a bit of a disappointment. A few characters have had new character models (particularly Alan) which look brilliant but is sadly noticeable when he is shown next to other characters who have not had the same treatment. Pat Maine sticks out quite badly on the ferry at the beginning of the game and some of his movements looked quite awkward too.
All in all those nit-picks are the only things I can complain about as this is still an incredible game which comes with both its story DLC packages included (I hope we get American Nightmare soon) and will especially pay off when we finally get the sequel announcement (a personal prediction as I’ve no facts to back up) in December. Alan Wake Remastered will also serve to wet the whistles of those who played Control and its fantastic AWE DLC earlier this year.
If you have never played this game because you didn’t have an Xbox or simply didn’t get round to it then now you have no excuse. This remaster is great and available on PlayStation for the first time ever so I urge you to play it. If you have Xbox Gamepass already and are yet to experience it you are sorely missing out..
In summary, I love this game. I purchased a physical copy and as we were very kindly provided a code too, Luke will also be reviewing this very soon. Have a great day, don’t forget to be nice to each other and remember it’s an ocean not a lake!