An already superior horror title is now a fantastic upgrade.
Alan Wake, a survival horror game, was initially released on the Xbox 360 in 2010 and it received widespread praise for its stunning visuals, creepy atmosphere, and haunting narrative, which might have been taken straight from a Stephen King novel.
The storyline of the game does resemble the horror stories of the well-known horror author, according to Remedy Entertainment's developers, who made King a reference during the game's development. This is demonstrated by the lead protagonist, Alan Wake, who is a horror novelist suffering from writer's block.
Many of King's novels have centered on similar struggling authors, including Misery, which saw a bed-bound Paul Sheldon held captive by Annie Wilkes' fruitcake, and The Shining, which saw the writer's gradual unravelling during a stay in a haunted hotel. Alan Wake is a classic King character now, although one who has been created by a storyteller who is more interested in the subject of horror than the author.
In the game, King's works have a different quality, including a bulldozer that develops a separate mind (which brings to mind the tyrannical cars in Christine and Maximum Overdrive), and a madman who attempts to smash a door with an axe (The Shining is the obvious reference).
Because of the intense atmosphere that permeates throughout the game, and the hidden beauty of Bright Falls, Stephen King's fans loved the game back in the day, despite the possibility of death at any moment.
But this was before, and this is today. Does Alan Wake's remastered version still work as a decent game?
If you're wondering about replay value, the answer is yes. It may be more appealing to those who have never played it than those who have, although it's still the same title at the core. That being said, it does include DLC that some gamers may have missed out on originally.
The PS5 looks stunning at times, with a pin-sharp 4K resolution that really stands out, especially during the beautiful sunset scenes that depict Alan's world and other locations in and around the game's fictional town.
Due to an increased resolution, character models have a lot more detail, although facial animations aren't quite up to current-gen standards and movement is often a little stiff, and when you get caught up in the game's plot and terrifying set-pieces, you won't notice the game's flaws.
Alan travels across tall forests, logging camps, dry creeks, and other locations in search of answers to his missing wife. A lot of information is kept hidden unless you collect the manuscript pages scattered throughout the various areas of the game.
When you listen to the game's radios or watching the Twilight Zone-like television program, you may also receive valuable information about yourself in some indoor environments.
The game is composed of episodic moments, with cliffhangers at the end of each episode and recaps at the start of each new installment. Pauses between episodes are sometimes helpful as they provide breathing space between segments that are difficult to maneuver because they are often forgotten.
The location of Bright Falls in the game is enjoyable enough, although the forest areas can be confusing to navigate. The objective marker can be useful during times when you might get lost, although it tends to give you a general idea of where to go next rather than a direct route to your next destination.
This isn't a big deal as the game encourages you to wander off the beaten path, since weapons for Alan's torch are often hidden in the dark corners of the game's environments.
It's wise to minimize your use of ammunition and batteries as much as possible. Occasionally, these items may be in short supply, making certain sections of the game difficult to play through due to their high numbers. This is because Alan's enemies, who are humans who have been possessed by darkness, are often big and often difficult to defeat without the appropriate resources.
If you haven't played the game yet, you may not be aware that your torch is useful for more than just your explorations around the game's dark environs. It's essential to point your torch at the enemies as this is the only way to remove their darkness and weaken them. When weakened, these enemies will be eliminated fairly swiftly, so a steady supply of batteries is always helpful.
If you don't use your torchlight to weaken them, you'll waste a lot of ammunition, which may make life very unpleasant for you if you run out of flares or bullets.
In the early stages of the game, combat is usually straightforward, but when there are many more enemies attacking you, you will need as many resources as you can.
Alan's inability to breath quickly results in him being outnumbered. It's also possible to lure them towards cliffs and other steep points where you can dodge at just the right moment to deter them from falling to their death.
When you manage to avoid attacks, the game slows down with a cinematic effect. Again, dodging becomes a bit hit-and-miss (literally) as another might still hit you with their fist or flying hatchet.
As a result, the game can become very frustrating, although your enjoyment may be less difficult if you play in the appropriately named 'easy' mode.
Alan Wake was already a good game when it was released a decade or so ago, and it's even better now, thanks to the improved graphics and frame rate. It's possible that a sequel might be worthwhile to revisit.
I strongly encourage you to try out The Evil Within and Silent Hill, which have similar towns and rural areas.
Even with the improvements made, Alan Wake is not a perfect game. However, it remains a superior title that looks and plays well today.
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