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Alan Wake Remastered (PS5) Review

October 22, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Alan Wake Remastered
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Alan Wake Remastered (PS5) Review  

Alan Wake has always been an old favorite of mine. I dig the world of the game, the characters, story, combat, etc. It has a difficult birth but when it came out it was a pretty unique experience, especially for its time. This remastered version doesn’t change up the formula much at all, which is both a good and a bad thing in certain spots.

Alan Wake is a third-person action-horror game that originally came out in 2010. I wouldn’t call it a survival horror game because there really aren’t survival mechanics in the game. You’re generally given a fair amount of ammo/batteries before every encounter and can amass quite an arsenal by finding secrets.

Alan Wake has you play as the titular character, a horror writer who has developed writers block. You’re on vacation with your wife Alice to the quaint town of Bright Falls in Washington State. The goal of the trip is for Alan to unwind some but also to get him to start writing again. Things quickly spiral down however, when Alice is soon kidnapped and Alan has to rescue her and uncover the dark presence that is possessing people and coming after him.

To start with, Alan doesn’t really have any supernatural powers or cool scifi space armor to help him out. This is a game that is really set in the real world, so your main arsenal is a flashlight and a pistol, though you do get better weapons from time to time. Your enemies are protected by the Darkness that has taken them so first you have to burn off this shielding with your flashlight and once it’s gone, then you can actually kill them with your gun. This is how you take out most enemies in the game, at least the human ones.

You do get other useful items as well, other weapons like a hunting rifle or shotgun at least when it comes to normal weapons. You can also find flares or a flare gun to use against the Taken people. Flares will damage enemies while you hold it, or you can throw it a bit to provide some light. The flare gun is basically your “get out of jail” weapon since it can eliminate or heavily damage any enemy you fire it at, and can damage multiple foes in one shot. You’ll never have a huge surplus of flare gun ammo but you’ll usually have at least a few shots, if things get too hairy.

The main loop of the game is you going from area to area, fighting against the Taken enemies as you try to get to safe (lighted) areas. You’ll pick up batteries for the flashlight, since using it actually drains the battery quickly, ammo for your weapons and flare/flare gun ammo. You’ll find either small areas that are lit up or places where you can kick-start a generator to create some light. While in these small lighted zones, you regain health. In the darkness, you do have a small dodge maneuver to escape injury but it is a bit finicky in spots. There are a few collectibles to find in the game but the big ones are the manuscript pages.

After Alice was kidnapped, Alan wrote a new book about what is going on, but he can’t remember it and the pages are scattered amongst the town. As you play the game, you’ll find the pages, sometimes in easy to spot locations, but others that are very much off the beaten path, that help give insight into what is going on. Some pages can even foretell the future and describe events that are going to happen soon to Alan.

I would say the main crux of this game, even now, is that it really does evoke a sense that this is a lived-in world and that things are rapidly spinning out of control. There are radio broadcasts and brief TV episodes to find that add in flavor, most of the characters have clearly defined personalities, there’s good music in the game, and a lot of the environments you come across are kind of epic in scope, even if it is a mostly linear game. Even 11 years later, there are few games that have the personality of Alan Wake and the technical prowess to pull it off.

So what’s in this Remastered version? Well, it’s the base Alan Wake game, the two DLC story episodes, and a host of graphical improvements. It doesn’t look world’s better than the original Xbox 360 version and you won’t get fooled thinking it’s a current-gen game but it still does hold up pretty well.

So, what’s the downside? Well, if you want an Alan Wake experience on current consoles, there really isn’t one. It’s $30, which is an appropriate price, and the game still is tight enough to play. I do have one bone to pick with it though.

I would say that my general criticism of this game isn’t with the game itself but the package. You are just getting Alan Wake, the DLC, and some of the bits that were in the Collectors Edition of the original game (video commentary). There is a new commentary with Sam Lake, but it’s audio only. The big thing I wish that was included here was Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, the downloadable side-story sequel to this game. Or hell, there is also a live-action web-series prequel called “Bright Falls” that was made when the original game came out, to go into a bit more depth on the town. Why not include it in this package? I’d be happy if they just included a 4K version of Poets of the Fall’s “War” music video, which is also a song in the game. The music video is extremely inspired by the game, even starring Ilkka Villi as Max Payne. Even that would have been a nice extra, especially with how POTF songs are used in other Remedy games. Instead of “Alan Wake Remastered”, it could have been “Alan Wake Collection” if they had included this stuff.

Lastly, they removed some of the more egregious examples of product placement in the game. Alan Wake only had Energizer batteries, only had a Verizon phone (and billboards), and only driving Ford trucks. That’s all gone, now it’s just generic stuff. It’s weird to say but I actually view this as a slightly negative change. Don’t get me wrong, most product placement was/still is gross. But I kind of didn’t mind it in Alan Wake because the game set in a realistic world, so it almost made sense? It’s obviously not the biggest deal but something I noticed.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Alan Wake remains a good game and this Remastered version is about as good as we’re going to get of it. I still kind of wish they had done a few things around the edges, like including more bonus material or American Nightmare but that’s just me. It’s a nice experience to revisit this game a decade after it came out.