Alan Wake Remastered arrives just in time for the Halloween season and brings with it a cast of character cut-outs, satisfying yet simple gameplay, and an engrossing story. Alan Wake was a game I never got around to playing when it was first released in 2010. It has been on my radar, and when I heard an updated rerelease was coming out hot on the success of Remedy’s smash hit Control, I knew it was my time to explore Bright Falls and dive into the town and its cast of oddballs and eccentrics.
Alan Wake follows its title character as he searches for his missing wife. Throughout the game’s ten or so hour story you’ll meet a cast of characters that are all a little zany. Most of the characters are fairly flat with little development in their overall arcs. The character I hated the most at the beginning, Barry, Alan’s manager, was my favorite by the end. He went from annoying and grating to loveable goofball ready to blast away baddies by the end.
The game works best when Alan is with others. There aren’t a lot of these moments, but when they happen, I enjoyed Alan’s banter and conversations with his cohort more than I did playing solo.
Alan does a lot of narration to you as you play, and a lot of it is performed like a bargain bin audiobook. Though, with how hokey some of the story and characters can be, it works.
As you’re exploring the town and diving into the central mystery of the story, you’ll see the dark presence taking over townsfolk and turning them into Taken. They can be defeated by weakening them with a light and then blasting them away with a revolver, shotgun, hunting rifle, or flare gun. Gun combat is simple and easy. You’re also able to dodge an enemy’s attack with a slo-mo animation, and up until the very end, I got a lot of satisfaction with that animation. On the same level, there are moments with the flare gun that rewards a dead-on hit with the enemy ragdolling through the air and bursting into light and dissolving in slow motion.
Sometimes it gets very annoying that items don’t carry over from one area to another. Sometimes it made sense: Alan gets taken in by the cops or gets tossed from a vehicle and loses the supplies he’s carrying. In other moments, you’d move from one area to another with a cutscene in between, and you’d lose a shotgun, flare gun, and all your batteries. Regardless, there are always a lot of items to find and use on your quest to defeat the darkness, but I would have appreciated some continuity as you can spend a lot of time scavenging for items in various nooks and crannies in the game. While scavenging, there are a few collectibles to find which I enjoyed.
Unfortunately, enemy design isn’t particularly innovative, and I wish there had been some non-male enemies. Seeing the same greyed-out male hunters, office clerks, and policemen got a little bit bland by the end of the game. One thing that does make enemies stand out is their zany and goofy dialogue. I always got a laugh out of a giant shovel-wielding baddie running at me and screaming things like, “Hunters need hunting licenses!” or “Premium cabins for rent in Bright Falls!” Boss battles often come in the form of large possessed vehicles or construction equipment, and while they occasionally allow for some fun moments, you defeat them by shining your flashlight on them enough and/or using your flare gun or other light-based weapons, and once you find a rhythm, it becomes a little monotonous.
I did encounter some control issues later in the game. There are a few moments where you have to defeat hordes of enemies, and you’ll have a giant searchlight at your disposal to damage enemies. You preds O to use it. At times, an enemy would get behind and I’d unselect the light and hit R1 to drop a flare to make him back off, but R1 would make Alan use the light again. It caused me to die a few times and become very frustrated.
As for the game’s remastered status, it looks great. Characters are completely reworked, and facial animations have been redone. It runs in 4K at 60FPS on the PS5. The lighting looks gorgeous, but at times I do feel like things looked a bit too clean. Having seen a lot of original playthrough videos, there was grit that is absent in the remaster. That is to say, the original game honestly still looks great despite being released over a decade ago. I played Control first and loved getting to dive into the mystery surrounding the world that the two games share.
While some of the game’s mechanics haven’t aged super well, it’s still a fun and eerie ride through Bright Falls, and it is enjoyable to see where Remedy came from. If I had played this game when it first came out, I think I would have appreciated it more, but that isn’t to say Alan Wake Remastered isn’t worth your time. If you’re looking for an eccentric and spooky story with some zany characters and good gameplay, spend some time with Alan in Bright Falls.
Alan Wake Remastered – Review
We tell you, it’s a good game! It’s not average! It might have some problems here and there, but you have to admit it is a “Good” game.