Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

My Take on Alan Wake

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 4, 2010

Okay, not that I have much time even for playing games lately (a side effect of FK momentum increasing – YAY!), but I picked up Alan Wake this week and am a little ways into it – only chapter 3 so far.

I dig the story. I dig the lighting. I dig the mood. The characters are – well, they are okay. The game mechanics are… well, interesting, at least, which is nice. Overall, I’m enjoying playing it, and my wife actually wants to sit and watch me play – something she hasn’t really done since Final Fantasy VII.

But Alan Wake basically a movie where you have to go through some little action / puzzle sequences to watch the whole movie.  At first I thought that was only an issue with the introduction, but by this point it seems to be the whole game. You travel along the path, pick up another page of a manuscript, or run across a radio or TV or character that fills you in a little more with What’s Going On, and then you run another action sequence to find out more.

Oh, they change it up. Sometimes they have you walk around WHILE an NPC is talking to you. So you can still be doing something. Except if you are facing away from them, their voices fade to half-volume so it’s easy to lose what they are saying. So instead, I end up standing around facing them and doing very little so I can hear what they are saying. because, like I said, I’m kinda digging the story.

Now, I’m not a huge console gamer, but the games I have don’t typically go to quite this extreme. It has some theoretically interesting game mechanics involving the use of light to “burn away” the invulnerability of enemies, but really – the basic gameplay feels a little like playing a mandatory round of Space Invaders between cool stuff.  Space Invaders with cool extra challenges, survival-horror limits on ammunition, and really horrible camera action.

This seems like it would have been a pretty cool adventure game, but they don’t make those anymore if they have to sell to mainstream audiences. And hey, I kinda like Space Invaders in moderation.  Sans horrible camera action.

So I guess, when all is said and done, I do like the game thus far.  But it does remind me of a joke Chris Crawford once told at a talk I attended at GDC many years ago about interactive storytelling. “You get a little bit of interactivity, followed by a little bit of story, followed by a little bit of interactivity, followed by a little more story, and if you repeat that enough very quickly, it sounds like an interactive story, right?”

Filed Under: Mainstream Games - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Xenovore said,

    What is the gameplay? ‘Cause it’s sounding like another game with a case of Final-Fantasy-itis: It looks super-nice, tells an interesting story, but the actual gameplay is almost nonexistent. (Merely walking around does not constitute gameplay in my book.)

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Gameplay is pretty much shooter (with a twist) and puzzle solving.

    Puzzle solving is so far pretty simple – generally some kind of obstacle with some interactions allowed in the environment. And things liked timed button mashing to start up a generator.

    The shooter stuff involved moving and shooting, but also hitting the dodge button at the right time. And there’s the twist that most of the enemies are invulnerable until they’ve soaked up enough light to make them vulnerable. This can be done over time from a flashlight, by somehow overcharging the flashlight, or very quickly with flares, or whatnot.

  • Xenovore said,

    Ah okay, that sounds a little more interesting. I like the mechanic with the light making enemies vulnerable…