Alan Wake’s American Nightmare Review

Brutally spat out from the abyss of darkness Alan wakes up disoriented and confused. A lodge sits in front of him half-sunk in a pool of darkness. A tool of light lies near the edge of the pool, producing a glowing ray of hope, calling to him.  Alan’s newly acquired flashlight allows him the ability to overcome the obstacle that the poltergeist of darkness has just placed before him. Following the hindrance a pistol lies on the ground. As soon as it is picked up the “Taken” appear initiating the familiar instinct once known back in the original game. But, deep down Alan knows this exact routine will have to be repeated in order to obtain “ The Signal” to truly defeat his darker equal and return to his real life as a writer. Welcome to Alan Wake American Nightmare!

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Alan Wake American Nightmare is Remedy Entertainment’s newest iteration in the psychological thriller of the same name that released back in 2010. This time around Alan Wake is trapped in a time loop in an episode “Night Springs” of his own authorial design , being used against him by “the herald of darkness”. A doppelgänger named Mr.Scratch who seeks to take everything Alan holds dear for himself. In order to defeat “the herald of darkness” Alan has to traverse the Arizona lands moving from an abstract hotel, to an isolated observatory, to the discarded remains of an old drive-in theater equipping himself with firepower, his mind, his writings, and the ability to rewrite reality to combat not only Mr.Scratch but the emissaries of darkness the “Taken”, that occupy the concocted maze of darkness. Alan Wake American Nightmare wasn’t an easy ride but it was definitely worth the experience.

Combat in American Nightmare’s most engaging aspect. More so than the actual story. The “Taken” are humans possessed and engulfed in darkness, so simply blasting away with a shotgun or an assault rifle won’t get the job done. With the flashlight in one hand and a weapon in the other, players must burn the darkness off of their enemies with the power of light before pumping rounds into their cursed bodies. All while watching your back as enemies in Alan Wake don’t stand around and wait for you to take out their buddy before attacking. Awareness is key to survival in this game’s universe as well as dodging. Successfully pressing LB just before a Taken swings their weapon rewards you with a slow motion scene to alert of your successful escape from being sliced like a tomato on a cooking show.

As the “Champion of Light” light is your ally. Whether it is a car’s headlight or a lone streetlight. Each can be used wisely to suit each encounter Alan has with the Taken. Streetlights are usually safe haven to be used as checkpoints as well as healing stations that once used blow out to re-spawn again after a certain period of time. Headlights, a flare gun, flash bangs, and flares are alternatives to the flashlight in the event that battery levels are low or enemies are too numerous and the darkness needs to burn in one blow.. Since, the flashlight can only aim at one enemy at a time.

Differing from it’s predecessor, Alan Wake American Nightmare focuses more on action than a narrative. Weapon cases are scattered across each of the three areas. Varying from  an assault rifle to different assortments or sidearms, shotguns, automatic weapons and more. Each weapon case is unlocked after collecting a certain number of hidden manuscripts (53 in total) indicating by simply walking up to them.

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Visually American Nightmare isn’t that impressive until the lighting effects are in play. Whether it is the light from a lone flashlight searing darkness into oblivion or a flare illuminating the surrounding area in a radiant red glow accompanied by the whining sound of darkness melting off the group of enemies in the immediate area. It really isn’t that surprising coming from a game where the key aspect of survival is light. But, it still doesn’t mean it is not any less attractive. Ambiance when present, adds to the sometimes tense atmosphere the game can generate which is rare as most of the time the Taken are after Alan and his agenda to stop the darkness. Although in a surround sound environment the experience does open up.

Alan Wake American Nightmare was my first run-in with the series. It was certainly satisfying enough to convince me to purchase the first game and it’s DLC. While the story wasn’t as engaging as what I have heard from it’s predecessor, it’s approximate five hour completion time was more that enough to hook me into it’s game-play and the series all together. After the story is complete, players can take advantage of the arcade survival mode where you must survive till dawn. Killing and dodging add to the mini-game’s score multiplier in order to obtain the highest score and work towards the achievement. If you haven’t picked it up already I suggest you do, especially if you are new to the series.

Engaging and fluid. Not just a run-n-gun type of game. Assessing resources within your disposal is key. Ammo is scarce.
Not really a graphical spectacle until the lighting effects are present.
Ambiance and cryptic when being followed by the Taken. The occasions are not as abundant as they should in a genre of such.
7.5Final Score

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