Remedy Entertainment seeks to bring an eleven year old game back into the spotlight with ‘Alan Wake Remastered’. Published this time around by Epic Games, the remaster marks the first time the game has been released on PlayStation consoles. The updated visuals and performance help bring the classic into the modern era. Although those upgrades make the game feel newer, its older gameplay elements remind you that you’re playing a game from 2010.
The original release launched exclusively on Xbox 360 on May 18th of 2010. Winning the Time Magazine number one game of 2010, the game was met with critical acclaim. Most praising the games dark atmosphere, incredible pacing, and memorable set pieces. The obvious nods to ‘Twin Peaks’ and other popular horror franchises made for a memorable experience for any horror fan. Melding a beautiful combination of white knuckled gameplay and the stunning vista’s of the games fictional Pacific Northwest setting.
Written by Sam Lake, who most will recognize as the face model for the studio’s earlier ‘Max Payne’ series, players are placed in control of the title character, Alan Wake. A bestselling crime fiction writer struggling with a long bout of writer’s block. Alan’s wife, Alice, sees that her husband is struggling and plans a vacation to the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington. The couple arrives in the small mountain town and makes their way to the local diner to pick up a key for their cabin. Alan meets with some of the locals, including Rose, the diner’s waitress whose a huge fan of Wake’s work. Startled that he is so far away from home and was instantly recognized, Wake makes the decision to hurry up the process of getting the key. Making his way to the bathroom in the back of the diner, looking for the man he’s supposed to meet. He is instead set upon by a mysterious women who hands him a key and directions to the cabin. As the couple drives away from the cabin we see a man chasing him out of the diner attempting to give him a key.
The couple finds the cabin on an island in Cauldron Lake, but when darkness falls the horrors of this small town become clear. Alice eventually disappears and Alan attempts to get help from the local sheriff, who tells him there is no island on Cauldron Lake. The story gives many nods to classic horror movies such as ‘The Shining’ as well as the aforementioned ‘Twin Peaks’. Bright Falls is a beautiful sight both in the dark of night and the light of day. However, the night brings with it horrors in the form of humans and objects that have been taken over by a “darkness”. Armed with a flashlight, flairs, and various fire arms, Alan fights his way through the towns mountainous forest regions in search of Alice.
Enemies are impervious to damage until Alan breaks their shield with the flashlight first. Supplies are found scattered across the vast regions, including ammo, flashlight batteries, and more. Although these systems are implemented in many survival horror games, the lack of an inventory management system leads to less frustration overall. While supplies can be limited, these moments are few and far between. Various collectibles are scattered across the areas you’ll explore, including radio segments you can listen to and a fantastic homage to ‘Twilight Zone’ found on various television sets. Remedy has always done a great job with game story telling, a system they perfected in 2019’s ‘Control’, however, this title is where they started to gain their traction. Many elements from the 2019 game started with ‘Alan Wake’ but was dialed to eleven with their newest title.
The episodic format the game is presented in feels unique and refreshing. Starting each episode with a short previously on segment, this design gives you the feeling of playing through a season of a show. One of the more frustrating things that comes from this design, however, is the fact that your supplies do not travel between episodes. So stocking up on flairs, flash bangs, and ammo to carry to the next episode is impossible. At the beginning of the specific episode, your supplies will be completely reset, even down to the flashlight in most occurrences.
Gameplay in the remaster maintains some of the minor annoyances of the original title. The third person camera constantly flips from left to right shoulder, which in 2010 may have been the norm but can become frustrating today. The camera can sometimes get stuck behind bushes, trees, and other hazards which can become deadly in specific situations. The title was originally meant to be an open world game, however ,that was changed during development. Gameplay is broken up with various driving segments, allowing you to explore larger area’s of the game. Driving feels mediocre at best but is hardly something you will be doing frequently. Gunplay in the title feels as though you are playing as an author who has never touched a gun, which you are, so while it lacks the responsiveness of modern day shooters, it can add to the suspense the studio is going for.
Performance on the title is where it really sets apart from the original release, especially on PlayStation 5. Running at 4K and a solid 60 FPS, the title was clearly optimized well for newer hardware. Most character models have been redone, as well as individual props and textures. Fog and lighting effects in the game add to the dark undertones, making the atmosphere of the title feel more in line with its dark story. During our time with the game so far we haven’t encountered any bugs or crashes. The PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller gives each weapon a unique feeling, with different trigger tensions for each of them. Far from a complete remake of the title, however, the studio went to great lengths to make it feel as if the game came out in 2021.
With the release of the remaster, as well as Wake’s inclusion in the DLC for ‘Control’, many have speculated that a full-fledged sequel is on the way. While nothing remains confirmed, it does in fact seem as if Remedy is conjuring up interest in the franchise. Switching from Microsoft to Epic for publishing, allowing PlayStation players to play Wake’s origin story. The unique spin of Alan Wake and Jesse Faden joining forces to combat the darkness could be an interesting way to continue their stories, while creating a sequel for two of the studio’s most popular titles. Stay tuned to Downright Creepy for more on ‘Alan Wake’, ‘Control’, and the possible future of both titles.