I played the first Alan Wake when it came out many years ago and quickly gave up on it. Repetitive and weird were my take homes on that one. I also played Control (a game set within the same universe as Alan Wake) and managed to finish it albeit having found it to be equally weird and lacking in enjoyment.
Having seen people going mad about the new Alan Wake and having seen the glossy new graphics, I wondered perhaps whether the developers had learnt from the lessons that caused on the draw backs with the original. To an extent, they have. The fighting and encounter rate is far more restrained meaning there are far fewer long monotonous sections to wade through mindlessly.
In principle, I enjoy the frequency of readable items that can be encountered throughout the richly rendered and realised world. You sense a ‘but’ coming on.
It’s a big one. Alan Wake 2 is an ever-shifting dreamlike trip of a game. For some that may appeal but certainly not to me. I personally find the mechanic of shifting perspectives and reality far to convenient a plot tool and it does not allow for any sense of connection to the landscape within which the game is played to develop.
The plot is in there somewhere but the words and comments from the characters, whether spoken or written down are a garbled jumble of pretense and nonsense. Although on the face of it this is no doubt meant to sound mysterious and clever. Make no mistake, there is nothing clever about it. The solution to a Jonathan Creek episode is clever. The intricate relationships and interactions we see within the Last of Us games are clever. Alan Wake is not clever, no matter how much it likes to think it is.
For me it got tedious very quickly. I simply didn’t become invested in any of the characters. It got bleak and weird almost immediately and never recovered. All the gloss in the world can’t take that away. The bits where one of the characters, Saga, profiles other characters in her mind seems to rely on the so called trendy stylism of the real footage of the actors swirling ethereally in the background (something that happened and annoyed me in Control as well) annoyed me no end. It’s a game in which the dialogue to substance ratio is uncommonly large.
Before I completely tear into it to shreds, I suppose I have to give credit to the sequences where the song is playing in the background as Alan Wake runs around killing generic enemies which was kind of cool but also quite clunky and annoying. It was a lot better than the original. And… no that’s it.
It seems to be an ever increasing theme in modern media at the moment – an overreliance on the lack of one reality, an obsession with multiverse and dimension shifting. To me this is lazy and misguided and the sooner everyone snaps out of it, the better.
This game, particularly the dream-like Alan Wake sections, was a creepy ordeal of boredom and indifference that thinks it is far more intelligent that it actually is.