Who the Hell is Alan Wake?

.....apparently this guy is.

.....apparently this guy is.

I remember first hearing about this game back in 2006 in Game Informer magazine. At the time, all they had to go on was a couple of screenshots and the assurance of Remedy Entertainment that this would be the most epic of all games. Ever. And, since the Finnish company is the same development studio to bring Max Payne and bullet time into the world, we all believed them.

Fast forward to 2009. Not much has been heard about Alan Wake. There is an official website with a handful of screenshots and video. But more interestingly, there is the back story. It seems Mr. Wake is a writer of thriller novels. Like many published authors, he is suffering from writer’s block. To fix this problem his wife takes him to a small town in Washington state where he can get the creativity back. Yeah, because nothing bad can happen in a middle of nowhere town that’s surrounded by zombie fog twenty-four hours a day. Seriously, Washington state is getting a reputation for a bad business. But I digress. To the complete surprise of no one (except maybe Alan), his wife goes missing, the novel he is writing starts coming true and soon the world of darkness is coming for him.

Remedy Entertainment has promised throughout a scattering of interviews that Alan Wake will utilize light and darkness in a new and dynamic way. Translation: you won’t be running and gunning like you were in Max Payne. No, this game will be more psychological. Much like the Silent Hill series or Eternal Darkness: Sanity’ Requiem. You’ll fight, just not all the damn time. Strategy people.

A quick pop over to Xbox’s website gives a few more kernals of information about gameplay. They say it will have:

  • Episodic content: The mission-based structure of Alan Wake creates an episodic narrative similar to the very best of dramatic television. As the episodes progress, gameplay evolves to introduce new elements and characters, drawing the player deeper into the experience.
  • Realistic environment: Experience an immersive reality like never before, as weather and light changes affect gameplay. Explore every aspect of a hyper-detailed Pacific Northwest town as you look for the truth behind the horror around you.
  • Massive world: Explore and roam free in an open environment as you investigate the mysteries of Bright Falls. Pay close attention to detail as you look for clues scattered through the town.
  • Brutal combat: As night falls, creatures begin to attack, and the longer Alan spends in Bright Falls, the longer the nights get. His enemies seem to draw their power from the darkness, and light soon becomes his greatest ally. Combine use of light with more conventional weapons to drive back the forces that hide in the dark.
Need more convincing that this isn’t going to turn out as some horrible cheap knock off of the horror game genre? Yeah, me too. Let’s see if the trailer released last October can alleviate some of this doubt.
So, it’s a combination of Silent Hill, Insomnia and the Johnny Depp movie Secret Window. I can live with that. But where’s the gameplay video? Surely after three years Remedy has some sort of demo to show for all their hard work. Not on the official site. Hmm. Here we go.
Keep in mind this is leaked footage and from 2007. Not the best quality picture and I’m sure they’ve come a long way since then. But based on the above video my curiosity is at least piqued. It will be interesting to see if they’re able to pull off the lighting as a major game element.
Remedy Entertainment has bitten off a lot in the making of this game. Large open world content, weather patterns and a day/night cycle that affect gameplay, promising a psychological thriller on par with classic movies. They’re doing a great job of keeping their head down and not throwing out an arbitrary release date. Which either means their hard at work or afraid to unleash a demo to a remorseless gaming public. However, bearing in mind that this IS the studio that spawned the excellent Max Payne series, I for one am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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