E3 2009: Alan Wake Impressions

by: Chuck -
Alan Wake is a game that made a very strong impression on John and I when we first saw the game in the ATI movie pavilion in 2005. Since then the game has gone underground with few details leaking out about the game. After the long absence it was almost time to start putting it into the Duke Nukem Forever vaporware category but after their appearance at E3 I think the game belongs in the Team Fortress 2 category of taking a long time but worth it.

Since the game was first show the folks at Remedy have tweaked the plot a bit. Instead of losing his wife and muse before going to the Northwest hamlet of Bright Falls the couple are actually on vacation in to the town to help Alan Wake regain his writing mojo. While they are there Alan’s wife Alice is kidnapped by formerly dormant dark forces in the town. All of this is a bit too familiar for Alan who finds out that what is going on is very similar to a lost manuscript he wrote but cannot remember.

What I really dug about Alan Wake was the way they are telling the story. As you discover parts of the manuscript you get a nice TV style narration over top of the action to fill in details of the story. Mixed with this are words from the manuscript which really adds to the narration of the game. It’s a nice touch and helps add to the tone and look of the game.

The game is split between the day where you search for clues and discover the secrets of the town and the night sections where you battle the dark forces. The folks from Remedy said this would be about a 50/50 mix but it wasn’t quite a final number as of yet.

The primary weapon in the game is light as you use it to reveal clues about what to do next as well as using it to take out bad guys. The dark forces possess people and objects in the game and in order to continue through the game you’ll have to use a light to “burn” the dark out of them. For example you can’t just shoot a possessed local, you have to burn the dark off them and then shoot them with a gun. Light isn’t just from your flash light as you can use any light source like a flare gun, street lights, or even head lights from a car to do damage to possessed enemies.

The demo we saw was an extended version of the trailer shown at the Microsoft press briefing. We got to see a little bit more of the comic relief character Barry, more possessed machinery (a bulldozer), and more of how the light source weapons work and the tactics you’ll you in the game. I was really impressed with what I saw as it’s obvious the guys at Remedy have been working on crafting the game experience as well as the game play mechanics. Of course we have to wait until Spring 2010 for the game but it’s nice to know the folks at Remedy have used their time wisely.
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