Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alan Wake, pt.5: Miscellaneous

Some random, final thoughts:

Jumping is Weird
A jump button feels out of place in a world of foreboding and consequence, and when a game gives me a button that makes my avatar do something strange, I tend to press it way more than I should, simply out of fascination.

As an aside, I hated every platforming moment in Wake. The occurrence was rare, but always a distraction. I can't think of a time when the game benefited from having a jump.

Uncanny Valley
I found myself comparing Alan Wake to Heavy Rain on more than one occasion, and one of the things in the former that I never noticed in the latter was the Uncanny Valley. The Uncanny Valley in Alan Wake isn't noteworthy because nearly every game deals with it, but if Heavy Rain conquered it, that seems like a big deal. (Did I mention it in my review?)

Good Bits
(Major spoilers in this paragraph)
There were a couple moments that stood out as excellent. The first is a level where cops are searching for you with their flashlights in the forest because it did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of a scene from the movie, with pressure from incoming characters, an impetus to stay out of the light, and lots of interesting scripted events. I really liked it. Second was near the very end, when words hovered in the air instead of actual game objects, and shining your light on them made the objects appear. The whole "I'm writing the adventure I'm in"-thing struck me as pretty uninteresting, perhaps because you get the gist of it so early, but I actually liked the way the word-level reinforced the idea with novel presentation.

Conclusion
Despite various criticisms, the game was decent enough. The story felt a bit clumsy but friends (whose opinions I respect) enjoyed it well enough. The gameplay is interesting, it just wears its welcome quickly. And the technology and art have a lot of production value that make you feel like you aren't wasting your time. I just wish it handled its fear better, and better-capitalized on its potential.

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