Nov 21, 2010

My First Thoughts on: Alan Wake

Alan Wake is basically just one hellish nature walk, which would be awesome, if not for the combat and the controls.

In fact, I would probably like the game a whole lot more if there were no combat and I was just allowed to walk through the woods and collect manuscript pages and coffee.

I'm only a few hours into A. Wake - get it? - and I find myself much more interested in the scenery than the story. The background is lush and detailed and indicative of the Northwest (I think), and it makes me want to visit the west coast.

The story is sort of overwrought, which wouldn't be such a bad thing if the controls were much, much, much tighter. Combat kind of sucks, and I dread fighting off the shadowy hordes, and not because they're scary or anything like that. They're kind of lame and one-note and the shittiest thing about fighting them is that there is absolutely no way to avoid them.

AWake would be a much better game if avoiding combat were possible. The few times I've tried to run away, I've been tracked down and axed to death almost instantly. The bad guys gang up on you and kill you in a matter of seconds. It's kind of boring and tedious.

Which sucks. I really wanted to enjoy this game, and I also wanted to overlook its most obvious flaws. The story isn't that bad for a video game - writer gets trapped in his story-slash-subconscious, basically - and all of the visual touches are pretty great. There are no zombies (yet), and, unless a dramatic shift occurs, I won't be transported to the beaches of Normandy to ward off unnamed scores of Nazis.

But the sluggish combat is irreconcilable. If the fights were more sporadic or could be avoided, the game would be much, much, much better. The developers seemed to think I would be more interested in shooting things than I would exploring an interesting and original world (and maybe I am not your typical gamer), and they got that wrong.

I would be much more pleased to experience a game where not as much "happens" except for when stuff happens. Does that make sense? The story is engaging, and hoofing it around the woods of the Northwest, turning on televisions and radios and finding seemingly randomly placed coffee containers and manuscript pages (for the worst novel ever written) was fun enough for me.

I'm not saying I would have preferred to do this for twelve hours, but I would much rather stalk around the woods, pretending to be the Green River Killer or Dora the Explorer than fighting off half-assed enemies.