Remember the action title which first featured bullet-time and appropriately dramatic combat sequences? Which shooter also featured an engrossing and well-told plot? That title was Max Payne and the developer of this series was Remedy Entertainment. And their new game is Alan Wake for the Xbox 360 and PC.
Alan Wake is a troubled author who has relocated to a town of Bright Falls following the disappearance of his girlfriend in circumstances similar to his own best-selling fiction. Suffering from a combination of terrible nightmares, insomnia and writer’s block, he hopes to find a cure for his affliction in more peaceful surroundings so he can get his life back on track. But strange things continue to happen to Alan. He finds more written passages appearing in his own handwriting that he doesn?t remember any more. These events begin to happen in his real-life and this is where you come in.
Remedy certainly know how deliver a cinematic experience, and much will depend on whether the developer can adapt to an action genre that has come a long way since the last Max Payne. That said, the prospect of ‘real time’ pacing is an interesting one, if the developers can maintain the action and tension without spoiling the story. Despite this free-roaming aesthetic Remedy will drive the game along via missions, which will gradually uncover what promises to be a tense and occasionally surprising mystery. How Remedy can make open-world gameplay work alongside the game’s missions and plot will be key to the title’s success.
‘Terrifying’ enemies will be on-hand to liven up the combat side of things, while there will be far more characters to interact with and learn from than most action titles. Indeed, these hints of RPG aren’t the only elements of the genre represented. There will also be puzzles to overcome, multiple outcomes and various relationships to forge and break. Alan Wake must use a variety of weapons to survive, including his most powerful ally against the creatures of darkness ? light itself.”
The game’s unique tech will apparently mean more detailed environments, with players fore-warned to pay close attention to details in their locale. Diverse and immersive environments are mooted, from vast forests to tiny rural towns. The dark mystery in which Alan Wake is involved becomes more apparent as we learn that light will become a weapon for our hero. It seems that Wake’s foes use the darkness to grow more powerful, and as the game progresses, nights will get longer and the situation will become more perilous. Wake will then need to combine normal weapons with ‘light’ in order to overcome the ‘creatures of darkness’.
“Intense cinematic action is something that we love to do, and Alan Wake features tense combat gameplay as well, but all things considered the game has a lot more emphasis on adventure and exploration than what Max Payne did. Driving is an integral part of the game,” reveals lead designer Petri Järvilehto.
Finally, Remedy believe the game will play out as a psuedo-episodic narrative, the missions serving to underline distinct sections of the plot. The overall feel of a ‘dramatic television series’ is promised. There is also no multiplayer element to the game, the developers instead focussing on a killer singleplayer experience: “We’d much rather give the players a great single-player game, than a mediocre single and multiplayer game,” offers Järvilehto.
Very little of an official nature has been heard of this potentially epic experience since Microsoft and Remedy last enlightened us back in September 2006. That being said, we are still hopeful for a Fall 2009 release . Let’s hope that time and the increasing quality of the competition doesn’t serve to diminish the potency of Alan Wake’s gameplay-mix. We can only hope it won’t be much longer before Remedy decides to end its media blackout. Stay tuned for more coverage on the game during E3 2009.