July 2, 2022

Looking Back at Alan Wake

Alan Wake is a game that left me cold.

It isn’t that Alan Wake was inherently bad in any way though – as a survival horror game, it was passable. It was a trippy, surreal experience and many people enjoyed it. That’s fine.

I didn’t.

What bugged me about Alan Wake was, after seven years, it felt like they had done very little with the concept of survival horror – worse, it felt at times they had wrenched it back from trying to toy with the concept, and made it formulaic. It’s heady blend of genre tropes, cliches and executions made it unmistakably survival horror; but also unmistakably boring as a result.

Which I have always maintained is a shame, because Alan Wake was nothing if not full of potential. And now, it suffers the indignity that few are forced to endure; rather than a sequel, the foreseeable future is a couple of quick and dirty downloadable spin-offs.

Do I feel sorry for Alan Wake and those behind it? A little. It’s pretty common in this day and age to have a bit of a mishap with the first game and come back with a shining second installment, but then, many studios and games don’t take seven years and a rumoured hundred million dollars. Alan Wake didn’t have the mercy of a second chance on that front.

But, as a name, it is at least catchy and punchy, if a little tainted. And I do actually believe given another chance, Alan Wake 2 could – and should – be amazing. Although I suppose it would be Alice Wake at that point…

Either way, I’m waiting to see what the downloadable spin-off unveiled this weekend, Night Springs, has to offer. If they can rebuild the quite awkward and clunky story, then there should be another full game in the series.

I hope Remedy can pull it off. Because, like all new IPs, I’m always willing to give them a second chance… we don’t see enough of them these days…


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