July 4, 2010

Alan Wake - Review - Frightening, Suspenseful, a Real Page-Turner

Sitting across from Mr. Wake, with the full puzzle coming into focus and the final pieces placed, the gravity from our seventeen hour journey together keeps me to my chair, like I've been punched and punched and punched and punched and I cannot move. I breathe and instead of oxygen I imbibe the molecules of a twisted mystery. I speak and instead of words I utter what others could only describe as ravings that touch no reality. Consumed, swarmed, leashed. It won't let me move. It. It.

But I have won; heavy and weighted as I am, I have still won. The black screen, both an unknown void and comfortable signal flare communicates the end. It is over.

Or is it ...

Sorry, the above prose isn't very good and maybe only barely reminiscent of something Remedy's author/protag would write. But Alan Wake has the uncanny power to permeate my brain. And if you play it, your brain might be permeated, too, in some pretty cerebral ways.

Alan Wake is a very novel game (pun absolutely intended!) in that there is hardly anything like it out there. The closest comparisons would be Silent Hill 1 and 2 minus the grotesque horror, then add a dash of perfect location like BioShock's Rapture. Admittedly, not everything makes perfect sense, but nightmarish situations rarely do, and the nightmare we experience in this game keeps you wanting to find out what will happen next, even if it might be terrifying to see what's around the corner.

Turn the page to keep reading.  And by "turn" I mean "click."   And by "the page" I mean the link that says "Continue reading."