In May of 2010, a game launched for the first time. One that was praised for its atmosphere, narrative, pacing and visuals; the game of course being Alan Wake. Released originally for the Xbox 360 and 2 years after for the PC, now over a decade later Alan Wake has been remastered for the PC, Xbox and is on PlayStation for the very first time. We finally receive the remaster many of us have been waiting for, but does the remaster live up to the hype of the original, or should Alan Wake have been left in the past?
Even before you begin, you are immediately immersed in washed-out greys and the foreboding light of the lighthouse, as you begin your journey on the menu screen. Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake Remastered, like the original, gives the player a choice of difficulty. However, unlike the original version, the remaster has the difficulties reduced to only two choices: easy and normal. Both versions of the game have a harder Nightmare difficulty setting that the player must earn by initially completing the game on any difficulty.
The character of Alan Wake is a best-selling crime thriller author, who after having writers block for over two years, is brought to the small town of Bright Falls by his wife Alice who suffers from nyctophobia (an extreme fear of the night or darkness). Following the disappearance of his wife through a suspicious turn of events, Alan must find her while dealing with his own sanity and issues including a loss of time, blackout periods, and missing memories by finding pages of a manuscript, one which he doesn’t remember writing, appearing to link everything. The darkness truly becomes Alan’s biggest enemy and the only thing that can protect him is light in any form; be that a torch light, light from inside buildings or the odd flare, as Alan tries to solve the mystery to find his missus (pun intended).
The way the story is told is very much like as if you are inside one of Alan’s novels or a TV show, as the game gives off an amazing atmosphere filled with foreboding and vulnerability. With an amazing game score composed by Petri Alanko left untouched from the original, the music still hits all the right notes and moods for the remaster. Alan Wake plays both the titular character and the narrator, as he traverses through Bright Falls. Alan Wake Remastered is separated into 6 different chapters, each end with a cliff-hanger. The upgrades graphically have only improved the washed-out blues and greys, making the visual enhancements even more pronounced and fantastic looking on the PC.
While graphically Alan Wake has had an overhaul, this is where the differences between the remaster and the original stop. The game has retained its voice acting, sound design, storytelling, and game mechanics. All remain respectfully untouched and mostly for the better. The only major changes seem to be the retraction of product placement, from the once Energizer batteries being now generic lithium ones in game, and the Verizon commercials on the TVs are now gone for good. Along with these changes, new QR codes have been added to the game so that you can scan with your phone for even more lore drops for the avid gamer. Where this game feels a bit outdated is with its combat mechanics. Initially the combat has fun quirky mechanics of fending off the darkness with torches before you can damage enemies, however, it doesn’t really change after that. At a certain point, you stop receiving new weapons and each new encounter feels very much the same. Thankfully however, Remedy Entertainment have pulled off variety well.
Not only does Alan have to make his way through enemies covered in shadow, but this world is also broken up by environmental puzzles. To make his way through, Alan must tackle these to progress in the story, and trust me, you don’t want to miss a thing. Alan Wake Remastered consists of beautiful environments both equally gorgeous and daunting during your travels through Bright Falls. With tons of exposition through the manuscripts you can find, Alan Wake can be defined as either a completionist’s dream or a gamer’s nightmare, depending on how you look at it. There over 100 manuscripts to collect, some of these manuscripts are locked behind the Nightmare difficulty. There are 100 coffee thermoses too, among many other collectables, giving Alan Wake Remastered a huge amount of playtime and replay value, especially if you are the type after perfection. The game thankfully does give you statistics in the menu to see how you are progressing and what you still need to collect.
The one thing I wish that the developers implemented in Alan Wake Remastered is a better HUD within the remaster. It is very apparent early on that Alan is no action movie star. He is just a writer. When sprinting away from danger, he can run for around 10 seconds before being winded and having to walk for a certain amount of time before he is able to run again. With no stamina bar, it is hard to discern exactly how far you can run before having to stop again, as well as when certain enemies are throwing projectiles at you, there is no alert that you are about to be hit until it is too late. Some form of warning would have been very useful in these situations. These opportunities have been missed but also do not hinder the game in any fashion. Although these decisions would have been nice touches to the remaster, the lack of these prompts does force the player to be more conservative of their choices, and more aware of their surroundings, which adds to the immersion of the playthrough.
Alan Wake Remastered is Remedy Entertainment’s beautiful remaster of the 2010 beloved horror-adventure, implemented with quality-of-life improvements, and is perfect for both those that want to relive the experience that they enjoyed 11 years ago, or for fans of the horror genre wanting to dip into the mysterious monochrome and immersive thrilling tale of Alan Wake for the first time. Thankfully I’m not scared of the dark, I thoroughly enjoyed this game and cannot recommend it enough.
Alan Wake Remastered is out now on Xbox One/Series S|X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and on PC via Epic Games.
A copy of this game was provided on PC for the purpose of this review.