Alan Wake, feeling his age.
When i picked up Alan Wake I knew a few things. 1. I would probably only play it in daylight. Horror games scare the shit out of me, and so did Alan Wake. Playing with headphones on i found myself turning around every once in a while because i felt someone behind me. In that way Alan wake succeeds. 2. I would play one episode a day, because its is marketed as an episodic "Stephen King" thriller.
Alan Wake feels great, I didn't think the shooting mechanic would be fun, but i found the formula to work perfectly and really tailored the game to feel more frantic, even when i had enough ammo/ batteries, because there was always the delicate balance between how much energy i had in my light vs. how close an enemy was. Having direct control over the flashlight really made walking through the forest at night horrifying, and it managed to not over use jump scares. They are only used about four times but I was terrified that one would be around the corner the whole game. One thing that did annoy me was Alan always defaults to the right side of the screen, so i found myself constantly clicking the right stick to move him to the left. This is one of many design choices that come with a game that has been in development for so long.
Alan Wake was announced at E3 2005, and in some cases it really feels that way. It feels like every step this game takes, it takes two steps back. For example, when I was far into the game you start to pick up on some cues that the game will throw at you. So your walking through the woods, at this point your scared out of you mind (at least I was), then you see a sliding gate. Instantly you know that Alan will press the button to open the gate, and it will take an inordinate amount of time to open. In that time four or five "taken" will come out of the shadows and you will kill them, then the gate will be open. So instantly every time a saw one of these gates I got pulled out of the tension. The same feeling happened every time i saw a collectible.
But through these faults Alan Wakes story shines. It truly is what kept me going. Each episode ends in a LOST style ending that kept me wondering. Also taking a cue from television, each episode ends in a song that comments on the events that just took place. All these things add to an over-arching story that in the end I wanted more from , and could see myself going on message boards theorizing about the continuation of the story.
So yes, there is some faults to Alan Wake, but the story and awesome gun play is enough to keep you walking through the dark and frightening forest that is Alan Wake.