Nov 11, 2010

Suspense in Video Games: Alan Wake

What makes suspense difficult to create in video games is the necessity for player and character, player and controller, and player and game to interact. All of these elements combined make for an experience that takes the audience member - the player, ostensibly - out of the game itself.

Take Alan Wake, for example. It opens with suspense, but that doesn't matter, because it's nevertheless a tutorial level, which destroys any sense of built (and I hate to say it) immersion. Even if you were immediately pulled into the game, the fact that you are told how to run and dodge attacks minimizes the actual story and brings the game's mechanics to the forefront.

Of course, this is unavoidable in a game, but I don't remember (and forgive me for destroying Alan Wake in favor of nostalgia) Silent Hill doing anything like this, and I hold Silent Hill 2 to a gold standard of suspense (much more than Resident Evil).

But these are just my initial impressions of the game. I am more critical of the things I love, like works of horror. I wonder why that is.


  1. I have mixed feelings about the game. I appreciate what Remedy (the game studio behind Max Payne) was trying to do, but even after two DLC episodes, I still don't understand the story. I also agree with some of our pals' criticisms of the gameplay (repetitive, boring, etc.) Still, I enjoyed it enough to play through the game and the additional content.

  2. I don't like the combat very much, and the controls are kind of muddy. Otherwise, I kind of like exploring the world. That may change the farther I get into it, though.