(This post is Spoiler-Free) Rarely, very rarely, do games like Alan Wake come into existence. When they do, you look at gaming differently. You think, man, this game. Man, this game. I was thinking that while I was playing it the other night. I had my flashlight on and I was standing in front of a barn, the barn door open. I wanted to go into the barn to see what was inside. I could use a few my bullets, some batteries, stuff like that. But, looking into the barn, the darkness inside almost pouring out at me, I really didn’t want to. I mean, I really, really wasn’t going in there. Who knows what would be in there. I turned around and headed back to my car. Seriously. That is the power of Alan Wake. It makes you act like an actual human being in the game, something I used to hate games for doing. I love this game for it.
The game is unique and powerful in three different ways. First, the story. You play Alan Wake, a writer who goes on vacation with his wife. Bright Falls is the town, and shortly after relaxing, Alice gets taken, Alan Wake loses a week of his life and he begins to get attacked by the Taken, people surrounded by darkness. The only way to hurt them is to shine light on them. Once the darkness breaks off them, you can shoot the crap out of them. But where have the Taken come from? Why do they want to kill Alan Wake? What is up with all these manuscript pages? What is up with the Darkness? Where is Alan’s wife? These are the questions that you push through for the rest of the game and, unlike certain television shows (cough, Lost, cough), all the questions are answered by the end of the game. And you know what is weird? All the answers actually make sense.
The story sets up the game for some real powerful game play. You have to get that damn darkness off the Taken, and that means you need light. You need a ton of light. You have to manage your bullet ammunition and your batteries. The game puts you in several situations where you have neither, and that makes you use your other talents. You can hit the left bumper to dodge or run, which you do more often than you don’t. I can’t remember any game where running and dodging away from your opponent was the best game play option. Once, I was outnumbered by about ten. I tossed a few flares, turned to a lamppost and ran like hell, barely making it. The game doesn’t care about kill counts as much as it cares about surviving. If you make it, if you live through it, you’re the hero, just like in the real world.
Third, this game is just cool. The menu is cool, the soundtrack is really, really cool. The episode set up is amazing and cool and the voice acting is awesome. The dialogue is terrific and the graphics are just dope and the sound design is brilliant and the way the game is designed is just super. I can’t say enough about how amazing this game is. For the first time in a long time, I understand what a game can do. A video game can do the simple stuff, giving you a gun and some zombies to shoot. Or, the game can do something different. Some people say, a game can be a good with the game play or good with the story. It can’t do both. Bullshit. Alan Wake destroys that idea right out of the water. Get this game. Buy it full price and enjoy quality game play with a story that is truly amazing. The only other question I have is, could this replace Mass Effect 2 as my Game of the Year?