|Internal Sudoku disputes can get decidedly heated.|
|A rare photo of Salvador Dali creating The Persistence of Memory.|
Thanks to the wonderfully enticing Steam summer sale, I have ended up with a lot of new games to play and very little money. One of said games is Alan Wake, the Stephen King novel-cum-Twin Peaks episode of a game that came out back in good old 2010. I started playing it this very evening of writing and it has somewhat piqued my interest, so lets put on our gaming socks and give it a wee gander, eh?
|Pictured: No gamer, ever. Where does that position even come from? A zoo keeper dodging monkey shit?|
|If you have no lunch, he takes your wife and children instead.|
Ready for the list? Cause I've made a list. We've got a remote American logging town (we'll let them off, that's quite King-y too), strange supernatural disturbances, a crazy character with an eye-patch, the small-town doctor whom we first meet in the police station conference room, the squeaky-voiced police station receptionist, a creepy bespectacled woman completely aware of the town's dark secrets, always desperately clutching an inanimate object, and a trademark vehicle used as a repeating image throughout the game/show; hell, there's even a creepy cabin that doesn't exist in the real world. That's so many parallels that, by law, these two shouldn't be allowed to meet lest the universe fold into itself and implode.
You know how I mentioned Deadly Premonition's coffee addiction? That's actually in this too, in the form of 100 coffee thermos' scattered around the game for you to hunt down. And, granted, after a quick Google I have found one reference in-game to Twin Peaks, in the form of the name of the achievement you get after collecting every last one of said flasks of liquid hyper. That's it. That's like stealing you research partner's notes on how to give animals superpowers, taking all the credit, then naming your grandkid's laser-spewing goldfish after him. A reference so obscure and difficult to notice that it's actually more insulting with it being there.
|Thank god for backwards-talking midgets and red curtains to help tell the two apart.|
|It would have been kinder just to kill him with it.|
The core mechanics of the game are very simple; light is good, dark is bad. The titular Alan must fight off evil monster thingys that have possessed the townsfolk by shining his torch at them then nailing them down with a couple of nice heavy bullets. Light also has the added advantage of stunning enemies, so combat usually entails juggling between keeping each baddie a safe distance away using a quick blast of the torch and filling those who's defensive darkness shield thingys have been broken down with a healthy dose of lead. But seeing as this is a survival horror game, it's not quite that easy: your torch runs out of juice faster than your sexually frustrated grandmother's vibrator so you're tasked with constantly hoarding shitty batteries, a fact which leads to the most hilariously misguided use of product placement ever in a video game.
|Energizer: It keeps going and going...for ten seconds. Then it doesn't.|
|"It's fine, I'll just stay here and watch terribad Twilight Zone episodes until morning."|
There was a moment early on in the game where I went to check out a cabin off the beaten path and, upon finding the light switch and some ammo, thought I'd take a moment to listen to the radio. While doing so I started pissing about, shining my torch at stuff and jumping on the bed, when I happened to turn towards the window and OH MY HOLY SHIT A GUY JUST WALKED PAST.
So it's pretty creepy and there's a nice gimmick. But the same could be said of some portions of the 2008 version of Alone in the Dark. And this is the worrying thing, if you've ever played that interactive bleach-enema of a game you will start to notice a couple of similarities between the two. Both had a nice idea as their central concept (light and fire as weapons, respectively), sure, and some relatively pretty graphics.
|After voiding myself and having a little cry, I restarted the checkpoint to take a screenshot.|
Both were also marred by terrible cameras, however. In Alone in the Dark, trying to solve one of the many cumbersome puzzles was like trying to remove a kidney stone with nothing but your bare hands and a car jack, unnecessarily difficult and uncomfortable due to a terrible choice of equipment. In Alan Wake, your own body is always in the way and you spend half your time wiggling all over the place; I don't know how it manages it, but no matter what you're doing, whatever you want to point at is always undoubtedly hiding behind one of your bloody elbow patches. This is most obvious when fighting, there have been numerous occasions where I've started attacking one enemy and all of a sudden I've got some other guy who's used my own meat sack for cover getting all up in my grill, messing up my shit.
And that's not all. Although I agree with the choice to remove any crosshairs to aid immersion and such, the developer has opted to use the torch instead. For those of you unaware with how light works, it spreads over distance. If you're using a laser pointer, no biggie; with a torch, it spreads quite a bit, and when you're trying to use an area the size of a dinner plate to pinpoint a head shot, it's ruddy annoying. It's just lucky then that the common survival horror trope of painfully scarce ammo is rarely an issue here, and it's more than acceptable to take the safe route and unload into a torso for the sake of safe, swift deadification.
|So not rad, dude.|
|"It looks like my bullets have taken a shine to you." Zing.|
What You Could Do Instead
Drink 100 Cups of Coffee and Wander Around Town at Night -
The coffee will take care of the erratic movement, hallucinations and bad aim, and being in a public place gives you plenty of people to terrify while you pee in the middle street, screaming the lyrics to Sugar, Sugar by the Archies.