Cult Game 'Alan Wake' Just Gets Better With Age

Without meaning to, I keep playing the new, remastered Alan Wake in the dark. Now that the sun sets earlier, when I sit down on the couch to play after work, the world descends into darkness while I play. It's like the game's darkness that inhabits the game's forests and mineshafts has reached out from the screen to consume me, ushering me further into Alan Wake's journey through its own history.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5db7na/cult-game-alan-wake-just-gets-better-with-age
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To the article title I’ll say that time allowed me to better understand what sort of mood Remedy was aiming for with AW and, indeed, their other games. I used to be unsure of whether they wanted to be a prestige movie or TV studio, but they’ve only gotten further into being goofy fun. It’s a well developed studio identity that I for quite some time wasn’t able to appreciate.

And yes, many parts of AW are great to this day, or possibly even better. And it’s fun to hear the developers reflect on being a Finnish studio writing in deeply American settings. It’s an aspect I think a lot of coming from a neighboring country, which was obviously explored a lot deeper in Control.

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I wish I could see what other people see in Alan Wake. It seems like a great, fun, charming thing but to me the game was always just kind of a mess. I lost count of how many times you would enter a new combat area, watch through a cutscene where the enemies spawned in, then as soon as you’re in control again surprise! We spawned two enemies behind you that we didn’t show.

It also didn’t help that I came to the game late with all the DLC and the follow-up American Nightmare. American Nightmare plays so much better, everything about it from movement down to sound effects is improved and feels perfect. At the same time though, at the same time though, American Nightmare perfectly highlights my problem with Alan Wake as a story and a character.

After you repeat the loop enough in American Nightmare, Alan has a conversation with one of the characters where he spells out that actually, all of this is happening because the stories he writes become true. The woman confronts him about the fact that he’s writing people to death for the sake of a good story, and Alan’s response is “well does it really matter if they don’t know I’m doing it? Of course it matters Alan. You took the most interesting moral problem of the entire concept and just waved it off, which is kind of a bummer.

See I haven’t played American Nightmare yet (hmm… this seems like a nice time to get to it actually).

But that is such an Alan Wake response that I can’t help but enjoy it second hand.