I was pleasantly surprised and welcomed the opportunity of playing Alan Wake Remastered and to say the least, it surpassed my expectations on various counts. I have, in all fairness, played this version of the game so as to objectively assess its various aspects.
Story and Gameplay
“It started with a dream.”
Alan Wake Remastered, a cinematic action-thriller, features a best-selling writer stricken by a bout of writer’s block. Alice, Alan’s beloved wife, takes him to the Pacific Northwest town of Bright Falls for a little R&R. However, things quickly take an unexpected turn when Alice vanishes from the cabin they have rented and the immediate next moment Alan finds himself in his car, bleeding and in the middle of the woods. Worried, Alan embarks on a desperate search for Alice whilst trying to comprehend why passages from a horror story he has supposedly written, but has no memory of, keep showing up on his journey.
To make matters worse, the story comes true before his eyes, page by page, and Wake is compelled to question his sanity. While several parables run throughout Alan Wake, on the surface, this is a very simple story about light versus dark. Alan witnesses a physical manifestation of darkness represented by the people of Bright Falls and has no choice but to weaken the forces of darkness with his flashlight and finish them off with a handgun and other weapons that he picks up along his journey. His terrifying journey to discover the answers to the perplexing mystery he faces will take him deep into the night.
In terms of fighting and what amounts to puzzles, the game is quite simple! You are always informed where to go and what to do, often with the narrator’s assistance. Throughout the game, you will need to stay on your toes because the forces of darkness can strike you from any direction. On the increasing difficulty level, it is easier to find yourself entirely engulfed by them. Its sometimes best to face them, and other times its best to flee. Just remember that while Alan Wake will run out of energy, the forces of darkness will not, so you will need a strong survival strategy if you aren’t near an overhead light source. The overall gameplay includes dodging around axe-wielding lunatics, shining a torch in the face of the forces of darkness to destroy their protective cloak of shadows and then shooting them with your pistol (Pew-Pew Bang-Bang!!!). You are encouraged to use the entire arsenal of supplies at your disposal to defeat the forces of darkness.
The unconventional placement of the camera angle rather than the player being in the centre of the frame was a bit uncomfortable. Even so, the game is quite engaging and will not let you turn your heads away from the screen even for a second!
Alan Wake Remastered offers the complete experience in stunning new 4K visuals. A lot of attention to detail is given in creating the game environment and assets. As nothing is perfect, there seem to be a couple of minor graphical glitches that I came across while playing the game. Nonetheless, this version is definitely an upgrade in terms of graphics as compared to the previous title.
I was disappointed with the audio quality of the game. In my opinion, there were quite a few audio fluctuations throughout the entire game as the sound quality felt suppressed (I got the feeling of listening to a radio on low frequency) and at times, it was blaring (I am now deaf!). Due to this, the volume levels demanded constant manual adjustment, which deviated the focus from the game to reconfiguring the volume levels continuously. The dialogues seemed to echo in the in-game cutscenes. In addition to that, the Foley effects in the cutscenes were not in sync with the video at a few scenes. A little more effort in improving the audio quality could have given the overall game a surreal experience.
In my view, this game deserves a mixed verdict. On the aspect of ease of understanding and play, this version is an improvement over the previous one and can be easily grasped and seamlessly played, both by curious newcomers and the seasoned gamers. On the aspect of look and feel of the game, the graphics and animation are well suited to the brilliant storyline. However, the sound quality of the game is not at par with the other aspects of the game and certainly needs refurbishment in areas of volume modulations.