Alan Wake Puts Me To Sleep



  • Before I begin I will say just like the warning of allergens in food-this article may contain spoilers.

    No matter my personal temptation to pun the title of this blog post, Alan Wake: Remastered has emphasized the real gulf that exists between a game's original release and its remaster. Eleven years it has taken for Alan Wake to go from a release on Xbox 360 to a remaster on Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4 and PS5, eleven years where the industry has changed drastically and what used to be forgivable and acceptable then is ancient and unacceptable now. Here I will highlight the ways in which the new Alan Wake: Remastered exposes the flaws of the original game despite the dripping allure of its literary presentation and its successfully evocative dreariness-and for ease of reading I will present them in exhibit form:

    EXHIBIT A-ALAN'S PERSONALITY
    To start Alan Wake is a soft unassuming bore. He speaks like he's trying to wake up. Sometimes he can show emotion but I'd have thought Remedy would present us with a protagonist who has something interesting to gloat about such as I don't know-BEING A FAMOUS WRITER! Yet early on Alan meets a fan who is a radio show host and all the sad sap wants is time to himself. One of the gambles of being a famous writer surely ought to be acknowledging and understanding the fact that you will be a known figure and that you will be recognized and expected to put your signature somewhere on a body part or piece of paper. Today we're used to seeing more depth and sophistication with videogame characters, they aren't as cardboard as they were back in 2010.

    EXHIBIT B-OVERLY SIMPLISTIC ARSENAL
    All Alan has for a weapon is a Revolver, which he frequently uses alongside a torch to blind the Taken fiends before unleashing bullets into their bonces and they are eviscerated in a glorious golden hue. Flares and a few other types of guns are at your disposal too, but while the meagerness of your equipment correlates with the unsettling horror vibes, the ways in which you can wield light as a weapon seems under-developed, as though more exciting ideas were too risky to incorporate.

    EXHIBIT C-RUDIMENTARY TASKS
    Nothing shows its age in Alan Wake as much as the game's niggling requirements for the player to perform mundane tasks like powering up a generator or clearing away swarms of encroaching demented yokels. The latter you will performing constantly, burying your in the perpetuity of enemy-clearing sequences that make the modest 6-8 hour playthrough seem like it drags on for a bloated 20 hours. Running into sources of light is the continuous carrot on a stick as the treat for entering the shine grants you respite from pursuers and equipment maybe stationed nearby such and more batteries for your torch and bullets for your revolver. No matter how crisp and satisfying the action is and how awesome it feels to duck out the way at exactly the right moment from a swinging axe, the monotony and rote routine of it all strangles some of the game's bright spots pertaining to its immersion and gameplay nuances.

    EXHIBIT D-NIGHTTIME MEANS SPOOKY! SPOOKY!
    Some critics say that Alan Wake isn't a horror, but it certainly tries to unnerve you. Take all the nighttime trekking through the woods for example, the unpredictable forests cloaked in the dead of night seem obsessive and overdone for a brief action game. Furthermore you don't need darkness to create effective horror or suspense. I understand that one of the biggest motifs of Alan Wake is for the power of light to turn back the darkness, but similarly to the unrelenting presence of the Taken, darkness in woodland barely takes a respite in Alan Wake and again makes the game drag more than it should.

    EXHIBIT E-COFFEE THERMOS FLASKS
    Pointless collectibles are no stranger to videogames and Alan Wake has its own in the form of Thermos flasks. Ok maybe they're not entirely pointless as perhaps Remedy incorporated them slyly to reinforce the fact that the protagonist's name is Alan Wake-and what's the best way to ahem "wake" up? With coffee of course. The problem is there are 100 thermos flasks scattered around Alan Wake which borders on a fetishistic pursuit to say the least for Alan-doesn't help his personality none though, but his buddy Barry Wheeler must've drank the equivalent of a hundred because he rarely shuts his trap.

    EXHIBIT F- IF IT LOOKS GOOD IT DOESN'T MATTER
    What we have last on the exhibit tour is an ailment most remasters suffer from-the idea that if the old game can be polished up for a new console generation it's a better game. No Alan Wake you don't pass on that excuse and nor do any remasters that touch up visuals along with other aesthetics and call it a day. I know remasters aren't made to change the core game but to polish it up to its utmost quality, but that's too easy and it's great bait for gamers to pay up for.

    Alan Wake: Remastered is great if you just want to play it again on new hardware and for newcomers it's a lovely treat if they can step over the bear trap of unrelenting repetition but to cynical critical fucks like me Alan Wake: Remastered does the bear minimum to justify its existence.