First of all I want to give a special thank to mmogamerchick for making me discover this game and give it a shot. I was dimly aware that it existed but until she talked about it on her blog I was completely oblivious to this wonderful survival horror game. Thanks!
I want to start this review by talking about survival horror games, a genre that has been with us for a while and became popular thanks to the Resident Evil series but sadly one that is frequently misused or badly done. Really good survival horrors games are few and far between and although a lot of them try to create that one special game everyone will talk about a lot of them fail along the way or become weird hybrids that are closer to actions games or shooters than true survival horror games. Resident evil 5 is a good example of a survival horror game that became something else (still good though).
So besides being scary, what is a survival horror game? It’s simply a game where the goal is to survive the situations the game throw at you. In a classic game the goal is to beat the opposition but here it’s simply to survive the situation wich may include defeating enemies but in the end you never get to completely wipe out the menace.
Ode to horror classics
First and foremost Alan Wake is a game made for horror fans by horror fans. The game does it best to draw its inspiration from the works of Stephen King, Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and other sources in the same genre like Twin Peaks and the Twilight Zone. In fact it’s probably the closest thing we will ever get to a Stephen King game. I’m saying this because wether or not you will enjoy the game depends on if you like that style of horror. The slow building type where nothing is clear and stuff doesn’t always make sense. The game starts with a quote to that effect warning the player that to enjoy this game you must play along and forget for a moment about cold rational logic.
It’s hard for me to talk about this game without giving spoilers. Talking about the story or any of its element can ruin a big part of the game and I really don’t want to do that.
That said, is it a good survival horror game? Yes it is. In fact it’s probably one of the very best ones. The graphics and music are extremely well done and combined with the flashlight mechanics really creates a great spooky atmosphere. Also,the environments are believable enough that you feel like you’ve been there before or at least seen a place that looks like it. I felt like I could really go trekking around Cauldron lake as I was playing the game.
Is it scary? Yes and no… in fact spooky might be the better word here. I know a lot of people have reported jumping when playing this game but I haven’t felt that way really. It was great fun and somewhat scary at times but not with the intensity others have reported. I suppose how you will experience it depends a lot on your tolerance to horror movies and the likes.
Because no review would be complete without it!
The monkey liked:
-The visuals, especially when the flashlight came into play. Also great and believable scenery.
-The story. Clever and it makes sense in its own way. Doesn’t resort to cheap tricks all the time to try to be scary.
-The overall experience. It’s a bit hard to describe in bullet points but the whole game as a whole was just awesome!
The monkey disliked:
-The noise of the game disc. The disc makes so much noise I had to install the game to my hard drive. Not happy with the sloppy programming here.
-Short and expensive. Awesome game but real expensive for such a short game. At least its quality time.