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Review #025: Alan Wake – American Nightmare (PC – Steam) review ~ The Teasing End?

Alan-Wake-American-Nightmare-Box-ArtWikipedia entry

So, before I begin at this article, I have to mention something for my readers. I found out that I made a mistake in the numbering of my reviews. I was off by 2 from number 15. So, I had some work fixing them all. But don’t worry, none of my URL’s changed. So, Remedy has released a sort of sequel to their amazing game Alan Wake. I haven’t written a first impression of this game but I had written way back a first impression of the original. To be honest, you may call this game more of an extended DLC mission then an actual game. But I’m going to review it if it were a stand-alone game. If that’s okay with you. And if that isn’t okay with you, I’m sorry, articles don’t rewrite automatically like Alan Wake can. My apologies for that. Man, I haven’t even started with the actual review and I’m already making references to the game. Anyways, my best buddy MiseryLC has watched a LP of this game. He found that this game was pretty sweet. But do I agree with my best buddy or are there some things in this game that make me dislike this game? Let’s see. Oh, like always, feel free to comment on this article and or the game. 

Compare it to the original? 

559233-alan-wake-s-american-nightmare-windows-screenshot-approachingWould it be wise to compare this game to it’s original? Well, honestly that isn’t the best idea ever. Because there are a lot of things different in this game then in the original. While keeping the same formula, this game is nothing like the original.

Let’s first talk about the story. The story is told differently this time around. Real life actors played some cutscenes. While in the original, if I remember correctly, only small parts has been done with real actors. The acting scenes are extremely welcome and add to this game.

The story in this game is rather interesting. It aids the gameplay quite well. But the end of the story of this game is extremely weak. It was a balls to the wall action story with some little twists but I feel like the first game had a way stronger story.

Let’s talk about the graphics for a moment. While my laptop couldn’t handle the highest settings very well, the normal settings gave extremely neat settings. The dark feel is back full force in this title then in the original. With some attention to detail, I barely have anything to complain about the graphics.

But, the collision detection is a totally different story. Some objects that you know can move, don’t. Yeah, ever had a chair that doesn’t move a pixel when you run against it? Thankfully, this issue isn’t that big and isn’t present with the enemies.

Nailed it!

imagesI’m so sorry for the pun. Wait, you don’t understand the pun? Let me explain, there is actually a nail gun in this game. Yes, a nail gun. Remember my review of the original where I said that the selection of guns wasn’t the best? Well, this game totally fixes that!  The interface for selecting guns is a ton better.

There is also a use in game for collecting the pages. I don’t quite remember if there was a use in the previous game for them apart from getting the backstory. In this game they are used for unlocking guns. Interesting.

This game has some changes to the gameplay as well. First of all, the health system works quite differently. You don’t fully get your health back. You can have 3 hits from the toughest enemy and you die. But your health bar is now in three parts. So, when it’s somewhere mid-way the 2nd part, it will only fill the 2nd again instead of the third as well.

Also, the compass is quite useful. It has a bit more icons then in the original. You can’t see the full picture as far as I know but certain clear icons appear when you’re close to ammo or light to regen.

This game has also various new enemies. While the design of the enemies is the same then in the original, the new enemies more then make it for it. From enemies that duplicate when you shine light on them to enemies that can divide themselves into birds. It made the game more challenging and I quite liked that.

Flaws

559229-alan-wake-s-american-nightmare-windows-screenshot-this-poorSo, before we continue this review, I have to admit that I haven’t played the survival part of this game. It looks like fun but it’s not totally my gameplay type. Yet, it’s a must have addition to the game.

Anyways, the flaws of this game. For starters, the final part of the game is a tad bit too hard. Think back at what I said earlier, the game has an incredible weak ending. So in other words, you get a little reward for that high input.

The biggest flaw this game makes is that it’s extremely short. According to Steam, I finished this game in 5 hours. While I honestly don’t believe that, I can’t deny that this game is rather short.

Another thing that might turn people off is that there are very few settings in this game. Due to the nature of the story, you will see some locations several times. The variety in this game is rather low.  That’s a sad part.

Also, I have noticed three times that the scenery moved for no reason. And it didn’t get explained either. Why does a big cinema screen suddenly move from one side to the parking lot to another side. I’m sure I didn’t get turned around or anything.

So, before we end this review, notice how I didn’t talk about the animation, music and sound effects. If you’re interested in the game, check them out for yourself. And if you want to know my opinion, they are great. I just like to don’t talk about certain things of the game so you have some surprises after reading this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Short.

– Weaker story then the original.

– Some repetition.

– Some things got unexplained that should have been explained, Dues Ex Machina’s and scenery that suddenly changes.

The good:

+ Classic Alan Wake gameplay with some tweaks.

+ Neat bonus story (while not perfect.)

+ Amazing design.

+ Unlockables.

+ Additional gamemode survival.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Great sound design.

Final thoughts:

If you want to buy this game, buy it on Steam. The low price of 9€ is actually totally worth it. Don’t buy it for a larger price. Since this game doesn’t offer more value then that.

At the start of this article I talked about how this game should have been an expansion pack instead of a stand-alone. This would have increased my final score.

If you liked Alan Wake, don’t pass on this game. It’s a great game, sadly it’s short.

Score: 70 / 100.

Score, if it had been an expansion pack: 80 / 100

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NekoJonez: Review #016: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Departure

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Official website

You would have thought that I would write my 15th game review on my blog. Yet, I decided to write it here on ButtonSmashers. Why? Well, to thank the guys for the great times they gave me and because Q gives me sometimes some free games and I think that means I need to pay him back somehow. So, I write an article on one of the best horror/adventure PC games ever made, well in the recent years. Besides, for me it’s all about reaching the milestone instead of the location. Another reason why I write it on my friends blog here is that I actually got this game for free from somebody of Arpegi. And my first impression is already on my blog. So yeah. If you want to read my first impression of this game, you can do that here. Anyways, unlike Alan here, I’m not in the dark. My dark, well black, cat is sleeping in my arms, making the time I spent on this review a lot longer then I originally planned. Oh well, the two additional collector edition episodes will have to wait. I have a game to review. In my introduction I always make it clear how I got to this game. Well, I got this game as a present. I was allowed to choose between three titles for buying someone a game. I knew the title Alan Wake from seeing it on a YouTube channel called Lazy Game Reviews. I wanted to link his video but the highly trained monkey’s of Google failed to work. (Yeah, YouTube has been bugging out for me. So, after some 500 error’s I gave up.) Anyways, enough stalling of this! Let’s get on with the review. Nothing special for the 15th, just a plain old review. And my plain old invite for you to write a comment what you think about this game and/or review. 

Manuscript pages

Wake_Barry.jpgThis game blew me out of the water. One of it’s many stronger points is the writing. It’s just an amazing story. Don’t go spoiling yourself because the ending is somewhat open ended and ready for a sequel. Yet, I haven’t finished the additional DLC’s yet. So, maybe I get my answers there.

I actually bought myself the novel version of this game. And I’m pumped to read it. I can feel Wake’s pain. He’s a writer who lost inspiration. Sometimes I have that myself. But apart from a story with deep and rich characters, it’s extremely memorable. It makes a lot of twists and turns. Even Alan starts to doubt himself from time to time. It feels more human.

The presentation of the story is what made this game for me. What’s going to happen in the (near) future of a chapter is written out on manuscript pages, some are extremely well hidden. Some provide backstory to the characters. While the pages play a very important role in the game, it’s implementation is just brilliant and how it should be.

I’m so sad that I finished this awesome story and this is one that I wished I could play over and over again without knowing the story. Where is that reset button in your brain when you need it?

Well, let’s talk about this game’s gameplay. And is it something where many game developers can learn from. You play the role of Alan Wake, like I told earlier, a writer who is in trouble. This game is a mostly linear adventure game, at some moments there are two or more paths, and it’s a shooter as well. But with a big twist. Before you can hurt your enemies, you must shine your flashlight on them. I only wish that not all enemies where male. But this is such an extremely big nitpick.

Ammo?!

cabinIn the game you use several weapons. A pistol, shotgun and a flare gun. You sometimes have flares and flash bangs at your disposal. And when you explore you can have more ammo as your reward. The additional batteries I found for my flashlight came in extremely helpful.

Yet with this comes on of my few complaints with the game. The weapon selection is not that great. When you play it, you will understand me better. But it’s as simple as putting everything under the scroll wheel. So when you wish to switch your flash bangs to flares without switching your weapon, well though luck.

And your objective is nearly always the same. Go from point A to B. Yet, the journey is always extremely different. From fighting through ambushes to driving a car to an other location, the game never feels really repetitive. This game also haves some major horror mixed in. From being in the woods with a lot of bear traps and the Taken following you to being in a hospital that is consumed by darkness.

I also love how the creators of this game hid several QR codes to scan in the game. I uncovered some GIFs with it. I’m so curious with I’ll find on my second playthrough. Yes, you read it correctly, I’ll probably play through this game more then once. Not only since the highest difficulty provides all pages to find but also because of several paths I didn’t explore and I wish I did.

One other complaint I have is that the driving is a bit broken. It’s too loose. You sometimes feel like you’re riding on ice. And with sudden tight corners in the road, this game makes the driving not so easy. Plus, your car can break down. Excellent, yet a damage meter is nowhere to be seen.

While the ammo for your weapons is extremely scare, you’ll never be without bullets. If you don’t waste them that is. With a human jump and a limited sprint, this gameplay can’t be any more talked about I guess. On to the next segment! Like in the game. It’s also in parts. And when you reach the next part, a quick recap plays. This makes being up to speed with the story such an easy task.

Well lit room

poltergeistLet’s first talk about this game’s soundtrack. I like almost every track. Some songs at the end aren’t really my style but I won’t talk bad on the game because of this. The set the mood like it should. The music gets tense when it needs to. And the music gets lighthearted when there is drama.

And the sound design is how I think it should be in all games of this genre. All weapons are such a blast to use because of this. Except, I miss a bit of a ticking sound for the flash bang. But that’s the only change I would do in the sound department.

And does this game gets tense. A full 100% yes please! The further you go, the more I got on the edge of my seat. This game provides a lot of challenge. One or two parts where a bit unfair but hey, that I can let slip.

The level design is excellent. I never really felt stuck and it was always clear in which direction I should head. Thanks to the ability to press “F” to focus on the part Alan was talking about makes that you have more control in your hands and that’s something I can only applaud. The only thin I should have dropped was the clicking to start an engine for light. One time it got a bit too difficult to remain fun.

Oh, now I suddenly remember that I should have mentioned in the gameplay section that there are various additional collectibles to find. Well, now that I mention it here, I can say that this games it’s length is great. I have beaten it on normal difficulty in 18 hours. Yet, I know that I skipped some parts and I haven’t finished the DLC. And I truly look forward to beat this game again with the developer commentary playing in my headset. Yeah, I advice you that you play this game with a headset, it makes the experience a lot better.

There are also parts in the game that you play with a side kick. And it’s AI is great. I had moments where I really was saved by the AI. And there where moments where the enemies really took me off guard. And I like how the animation helps you see enemies swarm you from different directions. This makes the possibility of cheap deaths go down so much. But before we talk about that, I want to say that I had to try some parts several times. Not because of cheap things but because I was truly taken off guard or I took the situation on with a wrong weapon. The bosses really require that you use the tactics of the weapons and ammo that you have.

So to finish this review, I’ll talk about the visuals and animation. And wow, the visuals are just mind blowing. The excellent voice work really shines through here. With nice and extremely well done locations, it’s a joy to walk around in this game’s setting. Nothing feels out of place and the developer really made it in such a way that this game might be real as well. The character’s detail is also well done.

I also like how you get a nice death animation when you kill the last enemy of the attacking group or when you die. The animation might have a hiccup here and there, it’s not really noticeable when you don’t pay attention to it or when you don’t look at it with a reviewer’s eye.

So, let’s wrap up this special longer review here and let’s get right to my conclusion, shall we?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

– The driving is a tad bit broken. A damage indicator and improved driving would be welcome.

– The switching of weapons isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Conclusion:

When even MiseryLC talks about this game, you may be sure it’s quality content. He didn’t play this game, he only saw a let’s play of the sequel. And I agree with my statement there. This game is a mindblowing experience. One that every one should play that likes adventure and horror games.

The presentation is unique. In terms of visuals and the story. It’s different yet familiar. It’s really worth to check this game out on Steam and play it right now.

I truly had trouble looking for negative parts of this game. This is one gem that should be high on everybody’s list. And it’s even a port from a XBOX360 game. Take that, a well made port.

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100