Alan Wake is a irritating masterpiece. It’s rife with charm, and overflowing with a mysterious ambiance, and each are on show in Alan Wake: Remastered greater than ever earlier than. However, its points are nonetheless as evident as they had been 11 years in the past, and this remaster does nothing to mitigate them.
Let’s get this out of the way in which up entrance: The precise act of enjoying Alan Wake was already boring in 2010. By in the present day’s requirements, it’s a reliable slog. A great 40% of sure ranges encompass simply jogging by the woods or down a highway, and Alan can solely run for about 5 seconds with out slowing down and huffing for air — a relatable trait, from one author to a different, however not the sort of factor that makes for enjoyable gameplay.
The light-based fight, the place Alan has to decrease every enemy’s defend of Darkness by shining a flashlight at them after which blowing them away with quite a lot of weapons, is neat the primary handful of instances. But Alan Wake pads every degree with dozens upon dozens of enemies, every requiring the identical one-two-punch tactic. In the fashionable period, when so many video games are assured sufficient to make fight fleeting within the service of story and tone, Alan Wake feels historic.
Other ache factors immediately flooded again once I began enjoying, like the way in which enemies usually spawn behind you with no noise or sign to warn you. There’s additionally the way in which the game’s charming narration typically disappears for minutes at a time, or will get interrupted in favor of large-scale battles with the Darkness baddies (referred to as The Taken). Memories of warding off armies of evil birds whereas standing on a gondola or making an attempt to not get crushed by an evil practice all hit me directly.
The Remaster doesn’t do Alan Wake many favors visually, both. Character faces don’t emote properly in any respect and cutscenes are inclined to stutter in sure sections. The forests and surrounding backgrounds do look attractive, and are higher at larger resolutions, but it surely highlights the remainder of Alan Wake’s ugliness by comparability. In different phrases, there isn’t any mistaking that that is an Xbox 360 game at its basis.
The major good thing about enjoying the game on a PlayStation 5 — which nonetheless feels bizarre, contemplating Alan Wake was initially an Xbox unique — appears to be that it’s simply accessible and has shorter load instances. The DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers additionally make aiming my weapons with out boosting my flashlight a lot simpler than it was initially — the set off has two stopping factors on PS5, with a slight maintain aiming the gun and a good maintain focusing your gentle.
Exhaustion was the theme of my Alan Wake: Remastered play classes. I’m exhausted attending to the narrative bits I really like, the game is exhausted by its 11-year age, and, hell, even Alan Wake himself is exhausted by a easy jog. But each future or burst of fight inevitably leads me again to why I initially performed Alan Wake in 2010. It rewards my persistence and arduous work with its ambiance, persona, and charm.
Alan Wake is aware of precisely what sort of game it’s. It at all times has, and it’s that confidence that retains it optimistic within the minds of so many. Alan Wake flaunts its influences — primarily David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and the works of Stephen King — so blatantly that Alan would possibly as properly be carrying a Carrie t-shirt and leaving recordings for his secretary, Diane.
At one level, a Taken cleaves a gap in a door, with Alan simply behind the blade, in a transparent homage to The Shining. If that wasn’t on-the-nose sufficient, Alan then feedback that the person with the axe simply tried to interrupt the door down like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The in-game Oh Deer Diner would possibly as properly simply be the Double R Diner from Twin Peaks. Alan recites a Stephen King quote to start out the game.
Alan Wake is a love letter to individuals who love the macabre, the creepy, the mildly horrific. It’s for guide and TV nerds who need to cuddle up with a checkered blanket, flip off the lights, and draw open the curtains. Its in-game TV present, Night Springs, is Remedy Entertainment’s stunning reimagining of The Twilight Zone. Lastly, Alan’s usually hokey, over-the-top narration feels intentional — like he’s studying a manuscript for his best-selling new novel (which he’s).
When you strip away all of the frustrations with enjoying Alan Wake, it oozes with ambiance. The method enemies slink out from behind timber is spine-tingling, even after I’ve seen it 20 instances. The method the wind blows by the forest whenever you’re alone, even when nothing scary is going on, is harking back to studying a horror novel in your mattress at evening, when everybody else is slumbering.
It’s the grim veneer that not solely saves Alan Wake, however like his flashlight, burns by the darkness that’s its cloying gameplay. Alan Wake’s sense of place, its themes, the temper it creates, makes it a basic, and nothing — not even time — can overshadow that.
Alan Wake: Remastered shall be launched on Oct. 5 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 5 utilizing a pre-release obtain code supplied by Remedy Entertainment. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought through affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.