Alan Wake Review

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A game of two halves


How the hell do you score a game like Alan Wake?

While there’s no doubt the adventure should be applauded for its beautiful presentation and clever take on the survival horror genre – and for a second act that hurls players into genuinely terrifying battles that test your nerves, reflexes and strategic skills – the first half is achingly boring, long-winded, and adopts a condescending attitude towards its players that treats them as if they’ve never played a videogame before.

Unlike most horror games that gift gorehounds with a fearsome array of firearms, Alan Wake’s weapon of choice is his trusty torch, its concentrated beam of light allowing the hero to weaken undead assailants as they stumble out of the shadows. But while new light sources such as fireworks, floodlights and flashbangs become available as the story reaches its chilling conclusion, the game leads players by the hand for the first five hours, keeping the best toys under lock and key until you’re already halfway through the story and making for a frustrating experience that’ll pique accomplished Resident Evil and Silent Hill fans.

For those who stick around, though, Alan Wake eventually finds its feet, and towards the end assaults players with ever-swelling ranks of zombies that require strategy and cunning to defeat, along with a daring rescue mission that’s one of 2010’s most memorable consoles moments to date.

Enjoyable and excruciating in equal measures, Alan Wake is a fun and ambitious horror quest, only hampered by its wish to appeal to the widest cross-section of gamers possible.