Alan Wake EP1: Hey, Listen!

 By Shamus Apr 24, 2012 268 comments


Link (YouTube)

In our meandering conversation, I took away this: This game was either intending to be scary and generally failed, or it created expectations of scary-ness that it never intended to fulfill.

One of the biggest sources of tension in Silent Hill 2 was that you never knew what to expect. The uncertainty creates doubt, which leads to a certain degree of suspense. It left you to figure things out for yourself. This flashlight explanation was not needed. Or if it was, it could have been reduced to a little text message like “aim the flashlight at the attacker”. I’m usually in favor of easing players into a game as carefully as possible, because learning under stress can lead to frustration. But this is one case where a little bit of confusion would have been fine.

The Ball of Light even greets you warmly. He’s friendly. He takes the time to say goodbye and lets you know you can have your dream back now, instead of just vanishing without explanation. He’s basically Alan Wake’s own personal Navi.

I like a lot of things about this game, but this opening is a major problem with regards to the tone it’s trying to set.


A Hundred!A Hundred!2020208268. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.


  1. CTrees says:

    I was super excited about Alan Wake when it was first announced. As a PC game. By the time it came out, five years later…

    Thanks for making me not need to play this myself! Can’t wait to see how this goes.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Watching a Let’s Play of a game you haven’t played (especially a psychological thriller) robs you of the chance to ever experience the game for what it actually is. Just wanted to point that out.

  2. Deadfast says:

    A massive QR code with a link to the game’s Facebook page right at the beginning of the game. So much for atmosphere I guess.

    • Sumanai says:

      Well, the atmosphere wasn’t going to stay there with the tutorial stuff happening anyway. But it does lower the player’s expectations nicely.

      • Deadfast says:

        True, although I maintain that leaving your PC in order to go find your phone with a QR scanner app on it is significantly more distracting than anything the tutorial could throw at you. Unless you’re somehow immune to being compelled to discover what is hidden beyond the QR right this moment!

        • Sumanai says:

          Well, I keep my phones at the computer desk. A lot people keep theirs on the living room table when playing with consoles.

          But yes, that is more than just what the tutorial throws at you. I know I wouldn’t have put it there.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            “A massive QR code with a link to the game’s Facebook page right at the beginning of the game. So much for atmosphere I guess.”

            Hmmm… Who decides to scan the code? Does the game itself even suggest for you to do this? So you take it upon yourself to whip your phone out (at which point you’ve already interrupted the atmosphere), it gives you a website (on your phone, not the TV, of course) and then you decide to visit the page.

            This is all you. You’ve chosen to pull yourself away from the game.

            But, if you go the page, you see a big picture of someone (presumably Mr. Scratch) covered in blood and smiling. Caption? “I TOLD YOU… I’M A PSYCHO”. Yeah, that’s inconsistent with the idea of someone trying to kill you.

            Picking nits pretty early in this game, are we not?

            But this is no different than pausing the game anyway. Once you get back to it, you can get back into the atmosphere. If you’re so inclined.

      • Rutskarn says:

        There are MORE QR CODES later.

  3. TraderRager says:

    God damnit, I was just gong to skip this season untiI got chance to play this game.

    But I need my spoiler warning fix and don’t want to pull a DX:HR and get halfway through the season before finally getting it.

  4. Littlefinger says:

    My liver is going to hate me this season.

    Awesome!

    edit: also Shamus, will you please shut the hell up and let Chris speak? Seriously, the poor guy can’t get a word in edgewise!

    edit2: and Barry is the best character of all horror games I played in the last 4 years.

    last edit: I love the credits font you used Josh.

  5. Chris B Chikin says:

    Not played this game; really think I’m going to love the series!

  6. Zak McKracken says:

    Haha, you said “Navi” :)

    In Germany, that’s the standard short term for a satnav system. So I follow your link to see what or whom you mean and — there it is, that’s exactly what it is!

    No, I never played legend of Zelda, that’s new-fangled crap for kids. I had a C64, what did I need a Nintendo thingy for?

  7. Gamer says:

    This’ll be my first season where I’ve never played the game before (well, technically that’s Mass Effect, but I saw/heard enough by that point to piece things together myself.)

  8. Museli says:

    Ah, good to have SW back – welcome back, Mumbles! I was worried five hosts could get a bit messy at times, but interruptions and talking over each other seems to have been kept to a minimum. Great to hear something funky from Kevin MacLeod again, too – takes me back to the Fallout 3 days.

    The game itself seems interesting enough – I’m not a fan of playing games like this but I enjoy watching them, and I’ve read a few Stephen King here and there, so I think I’m going to enjoy this series. The facial animations are absolutely terrible though – when I first saw Alan’s wife talking, I was wondering if this is where the horror part of ‘survival horror’ was coming in.

    • IFS says:

      It would be kind of cool if they had better facial animations for certain characters then used poor animations to create an uncanny valley with other characters.

    • Dasick says:

      Y’know to be honest, I fail to see anything wrong with the facial animations. I’m still in the phase of bewilderment because Jumping Junipers, these people actually resemble people and not discoloured boxes. Wow.

      Just a Warning guys, but the lot of you are just Spoiled.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        Indeed. I mean, sure, the facial animations in some scenes could’ve been better. But if you’re actually distracted to the point where you can’t get into the game because of the relatively few moments the animations are truly bad, you need to grow up or get some Ritalin, Concerta, somethin’ ;)

  9. Littlefinger says:

    For those interested, here is a Let’s Play of this game on the XBOX with subtitles rather than live commentary. If you want to get a taste of the game’s atmosphere and feel without having a posse talk/argue/discuss/shout over the gameplay.

    I recommend it because, while Shamus is correct that the game isn’t scary per se, it can get very tense at times.

    • Rutskarn says:

      I categorically contest that the game gets tense. The game purposefully removes the tension by announcing almost every combat by zooming in one the enemies, banging a spoon against a pot, and yelling, “Enemies are served! Get ‘em while they’re basically zombies!”

      • Tohron says:

        Off topic, but if you don’t get your Blackchapel game moving again soon, it’s probably going to enter full scale derail-mode.

        On topic, well… I haven’t played Alan Wake, so I unfortunately don’t have anything to say.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          “I categorically contest that the game gets tense. The game purposefully removes the tension by announcing almost every combat by zooming in one the enemies, banging a spoon against a pot, and yelling, ‘Enemies are served! Get ‘em while they’re basically zombies!’”

          Yeah, that’s when tension becomes fear realized. Not unlike any other survival horror or psychological thriller, you’re not tense during the combat with the enemy; you’re just wanting to get the hell away from it!

          Intensity, however, is another story. IMO, there are more than enough intense moments!

      • Deadpool says:

        I agree. The sound cues for this game are the biggest mistake a survival horror has made since Silent Hill: Shattered Memories decided that having enemies only spawn when the world is iced over was a good idea…

        I still stand by m statement: If you want to get scared by a game in the past decade, go play Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls.

        • swimon1 says:

          or amnesia? I’m not a huge fan of horror games but I thought that one worked pretty well.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          “The sound cues for this game are the biggest mistake a survival horror has made since Silent Hill: Shattered Memories decided that having enemies only spawn when the world is iced over was a good idea…”

          Can’t speak for Silent Hill, but it’s clear to me that Alan Wake is less about, well, “BOO! Haha, scared ya” and more about “Oh damn, I gotta get outta here” (and it was effective for me, at least). So naturally, they’re going to give you their version of “One Two, Freddy’s coming for you” before Freddy actually shows up ;)

      • Duhad says:

        OK sorry, I know allot of people are dead sick of zombies (hehe), but as a fan of them I actually enjoyed Alan Wake partly because it felt MORE like a proper Romero zombie game in mechanics and tone then ANY resent zombie game released over the last few years!

        Also on that subject Left 4 Dead had a survive map called ‘Last Stand’ where you defend a light house. As a Mainer it is my job to keep track of these things…

      • MatthewH says:

        A survival horror game that won’t scare me out of my seat? This might actually be the game for me to check out the genre!

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Yeah, this game isn’t a jump-scare sort of game for the most part. More for keeping you on the edge of your seat than making you jump out of it, if that makes sense. The atmosphere gets very creepy and intense quite often. And you’ll find that without a bunch of class clowns (No offense to them, I find their shows very entertaining!) making jokes and giggling over every sound in the game, it’s really a very immersive experience.

          But that’s minimized quite a bit if you watch a Let’s Play of the game beforehand, naturally.

      • Even says:

        I have to disagree. I had a lot of “F#%¤, not again!” tension fighting those freaks at certain points of the game.

        • Sumanai says:

          The tension I feel when I go “F@%¤, not again” is more likely to get me to quit and uninstall than think back “that was enjoyable”.

          • Even says:

            Umm yeah that was kinda the joke.

            • Sumanai says:

              Oh. Right. Oops.

              • Vic 2.0 says:

                I found the game to be just the right amount of unpredictable. Just as you’re about to assume you’ll be doing one thing a certain way for a while, it changes it up on you. Constantly adding or taking away weapons or other equipment (including some environmental weapons), changing enemy types or objectives, etc. For a game that does in fact repeat enemy types throughout the game, you still never know exactly what challenge you’ll be taking on from one section to the next.

      • Irridium says:

        And then playing the appropriate music when you’re supposed to be feeling something and stopping when it’s over, meaning as long as there’s no music playing you’re safe.

        • swimon1 says:

          To be fair there needs to be moments where you’re safe too. Proper pacing demands tension building and getting released but the problem with many games trying to be scary is that they try to build the tension too fast and linger on it too long. The music should be building for a long time before you encounter any enemies and when you do meet any the encounter should be brief panicky and hectic. Long uncertain build up with short intense pay-off make good horror.

          I haven’t played alan wake so I have no idea if it works or not but many other games trying to be scary fail because they think building tension for about 20 seconds is enough and then keep the fights going for minutes, long after they’ve stopped being scary and either become empowering or tedious.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            Well, critics of the game call it “tedious” because it repeats 3 of the model types throughout most of the combat sections in the game (not to unlike many other shooters, I must point out). Just watching the LPs of this show alone, however, will assure you that the enemies are not all that predictable (in where they spawn in relation to Alan’s position and exactly where they move, accelerate, stop to throw a weapon, etc.) however familiar their types become. That’s why you see the guy playing the game die so often, even though he’s fighting the same enemies he’s been fighting all along.

            Each individual battle is not very long at all. And while the environmental cues usually tell you when enemies are coming, there are sections in the game where the cues continue to come even after you’ve killed all the Taken in a region and a good amount of sections in which enemies show up without them.

      • Victor says:

        I remember finding that odd the first time I tried playing this on the 360. I couldn’t understand why enemies had to be announced every time. I thought maybe I was missing something, maybe it was suspenseful to other people.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Yes. Especially in the beginning when you’re not too familiar with the enemies, it’s meant to make you want to pick up the pace. The immediate and common assumption is that the Taken will continue to show wherever the cues are present, infinitely. So this contributes to what puts the “thrill” in this psychological thriller.

          So far, the only valid criticism I’ve seen of this game is that you’re given too much ammo in select areas, which encourages you to take longer in an area than you would if you felt you were about to run out of it.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “I categorically contest that the game gets tense. The game purposefully removes the tension by announcing almost every combat by zooming in one the enemies, banging a spoon against a pot, and yelling, ‘Enemies are served! Get ‘em while they’re basically zombies!’”

        Yeah, that’s when tension becomes fear realized. Not unlike any other survival horror or psychological thriller, you’re not tense during the combat with the enemy; you’re just wanting to get the hell away from it!

        Intensity, however, is another story. IMO, there are more than enough intense moments!

    • Joel D says:

      This is a quality LP and I recommend that people watch it.

    • Dave B says:

      Since I won’t be playing this game, I decided to watch a conventional Let’s Play before I watch each bit of Spoiler Warning, just so I know what’s going on. I’ve been watching this one, which has audio commentary, because I personally don’t care for subtitle-commentary. It’s not finished yet, though it should be able to stay ahead of SP.

  10. Thanakil says:

    I keep thinking the Coffee Thermos should be used to unlock more pages. Especially for players who missed a few.

    I figured it makes sense : Write drinks a bunch of coffee -> Writes a few pages.

    The game would have also been a little bit more scary by if it didn’t zoom all the time on enemies spawning. If it didn’t, it would at least let become paranoid and worry about the shadows, and whether or not I just saw something move around the trees.
    But since the game slows down whenever enemies are around, I always know what’s coming.

    Anyway, loved the game overall. I did remember the game being advertised as not-horror many years ago, they seemed to insist a lot on it. I thought it was a little silly tho, that the game seemed so much like a horror game, that they had to make it clear it wasn’t one.

    PS : I also shot a flare at the tornado the first time I went through the tutorial. Just to see if it did anything.

    • Jakale says:

      Another mechanic that might have helped the suspense side would be if you lost the ability to see in the dark areas after you step into one of those lamp haven places, or your flashlight goes out, and had to basically fumble around for a short time until your eyes adjusted. Granted, that’s ruined by the flashlight, but they could probably find a happy medium, if they had wanted to.

      • The Hokey Pokey says:

        They do this with flares. When you have one lit you are safe, but it is just about impossible to see beyond the small area it lights up. The enemies move around outside of that radius so that when the flare dies down you have a moment where you have to reorient yourself. If you are fighting a group of fast enemies then this can be fatal.

        While there are several instances where the enemies are announced by slow motion, not all of them are. There are sections of the game that add a dark swirly fog effect and cut visibility to just your immediate surroundings. In those parts enemies aren’t announced and can sneak up behind you easily. It is especially dangerous when you start to expect the slow motion from all enemies, because it is not guaranteed.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          The Hokey Pokey’s absolutely right. This game’s predictability is not all that predictable… Now what would we call that sort of predictability… :P

          “I keep thinking the Coffee Thermos should be used to unlock more pages. Especially for players who missed a few. I figured it makes sense : Write drinks a bunch of coffee -> Writes a few pages.”

          Well, no, because the pages are already written. Alan writes absolutely nothing between the scene where he wakes up in his crashed vehicle and the end of the game. In fact, it even shows in a cut scene where Alan sits down to try and write a manuscript to give the kidnapper and there’s a bright flash of light that prevents him from doing so (I later concluded that it was Thomas Zane himself trying to prevent Alan from making the same mistake he had made – writing a story that didn’t fit together).

          The coffee thermoses are just collectibles. That’s all. There’s no need to explain their purpose. The fact that they are not mentioned in any manuscripts, narratives, or cutscenes gives us more than enough reason to assume they’re irrelevant to the plot.

          “The game would have also been a little bit more scary by if it didn’t zoom all the time on enemies spawning. If it didn’t, it would at least let become paranoid and worry about the shadows, and whether or not I just saw something move around the trees.”

          A good point, except that the game doesn’t zoom or go into a slow-motion cinematic every time enemies are spawning. There are plenty of moments where you see the Taken in the distance without a cinematic. Those moments (which are admittedly common) where a cinematic does play are for sheer effect. I think they look wicked and they keep the game fresh.

          “I did remember the game being advertised as not-horror many years ago, they seemed to insist a lot on it. I thought it was a little silly tho, that the game seemed so much like a horror game, that they had to make it clear it wasn’t one.”

          That was to prevent people from buying it expecting a ton of jump-scares. If this comment and the replies it’s gotten is any indication, they were right to have that concern. And somehow, the case design didn’t make this clear either. I’ve said before that I think Remedy’s ultimate error was overestimating the cognitive abilities (ability to read between lines, pay attention to details, etc.) of the general public, in both their presentation of the game and the game itself.

          “Another mechanic that might have helped the suspense side would be if you lost the ability to see in the dark areas after you step into one of those lamp haven places, or your flashlight goes out, and had to basically fumble around for a short time until your eyes adjusted. Granted, that’s ruined by the flashlight, but they could probably find a happy medium, if they had wanted to.”

          Ehh, I think that would’ve just annoyed people.

  11. Jakale says:

    I’ve never played the game, but from seeing what was there and listening to you all I can already think of a better way to introduce the light mechanic. Instead of talking lighthouse, it could have just had a revolving light. One short scene where it flashes on the hitchhiker dude and you’d know shining light on them is important.

    That said, this should be fun. Amnesia was the only Josh vs Horror showcase we’d seen before, though this does look to be a fair amount of shooting dudes if the latter part of the dream was an indicator.

    • Ysen says:

      It is truly the Microsoft Clippy of lighthouses. “Hi! It looks like you’re being menaced by a strangely passive and non-threatening eldritch horror. Would you like to…
      - Shine your torch at it?
      - Shoot it with a gun?
      - Ignore it and run around looking for coffee thermoses?

      Click on your choice for assistance!”

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “I’ve never played the game, but from seeing what was there and listening to you all I can already think of a better way to introduce the light mechanic. Instead of talking lighthouse, it could have just had a revolving light. One short scene where it flashes on the hitchhiker dude and you’d know shining light on them is important.”

      That’s not a bad idea. But then, neither was what they did…

      “That said, this should be fun. Amnesia was the only Josh vs Horror showcase we’d seen before, though this does look to be a fair amount of shooting dudes if the latter part of the dream was an indicator.”

      Oh yeah, lots of combat. Seems like the commentators are correct when they say there’s too much of it when you’re watching the LPs because A) Whoever’s playing dies a lot and therefore has to give you a double dose of whatever sections they die in, and B) Every section features them complaining about the combat. It’s kinda like how you can hear the same song repeating once or twice on a record and not even be aware of it until someone says, “This song is repeating itself!” After that, no matter how good the song is, you don’t want to hear it.

      That’s not to suggest the sequences in Alan Wake are altogether repetitious. In fact, in addition to the ever-changing environment, the game plays with your inventory quite a bit. One moment, you’ll have just a revolver and flashlight, then you’ll gain something, then you’ll lose everything and gain something entirely different. There’s even a section where you have no flashlight or weapon, followed by a section where you have just a flashlight, etc. And while you do see the same models of the human Taken repeating (not unlike most shooters), you can never be sure what specific challenge awaits you from one section to the next.

  12. Thomas says:

    I love Chris’ credits title :D

    Spoiler Warning is awesome

    The interrupts are great. Theres going to be some level of peak interrupts where you’re spending so much time apologising and sorting order out you don’t have time to interrupt each other any more :D

    Having a group of people commentate over the top of anything is about as condusive to horror as a rubber duck so it’s going to take a lot of imagination to give it the slightest chance.

    The very first thought that came into my head in watching the game was ‘Wow this is like Max Payne’ and then I remembered, yep Remedy. That intro was pure Max Payne all the way until you reached the town. It made me a little sad because although I’m hopeful for Max Payne 3 (because I felt Max Payne meant more than a haircut, rain and the colour black, oh! cheap jab at the opinions of others) and believe it can be a true sequel and true noire even in the sun and with a bald head it’s never going to get the little touches that are so Remedy, like in that tutorial sequence :(

    EDIT: Also is it wrong that I’m in love with the square avatar?

  13. Blanko2 says:

    I get that you’ve got subtitles on, but this game really isn’t meant to be talked over. works fine in ME and whatever cuz the story in those is more about what the words are than about how the characters deliver those lines… plus it breaks tension to have 5 people talking incessantly and that’s the games main thing.

    tbh I was sceptical of you guys doing this game at all because of that. So this is probably the only episode I’m gonna watch.

    • Rutskarn says:

      The VAs don’t have particularly great delivery, for the most part.

      • Blanko2 says:

        I disagree, I like Alan Wake’s narration, I feel most of the characters are believable (most) and think they did a pretty good job on the game, all told. It’s not scary, it’s suspenseful, it’s a got a gripping story, it’s pretty immersive.

        I also feel you guys didn’t really give the tutorial a chance, the tutorial introduces the main character, the main villain, the enemies, the mechanics, shows off a bit of the way the story will unfold, has a few easter eggs, has a well developed, good looking level design. That’s a lot of ticks for a tutorial, in my mind. it’s not perfect, but it works really well when you’re not just sitting there getting hit by an axe.

        • Duhad says:

          Sorry man, I love the game to death, I love the characters, the game play, the mode, all of it, but the tutorial was so bad that when I played it the first time I gave serious thought to just returning it for something less ridiculousness. First impressions are vital and AW opens not on its best foot forward, but by plowing face first into the ground.

          • Aldowyn says:

            Having never seen a significant portion of Alan Wake before… Yeah, as far as survival horror goes, wtf? There are some games where trying to figure out how to do things is a big deal, and survival horror is one of them.

            And the talking light seemed to be spewing cliches… though I wasn’t paying attention the whole time. Too many people talking. (good, bad, not sure yet)

            • X2Eliah says:

              That’s the thing though, is Alan Wake a survival horror game at all?

              It has no real “inventory/item gathering” that usually defines the *survival* part of the genre (clinging to any bit of medicine, improvised weaponry, water/food/keys), and as for the horror – it is pretty obvious that it’s not trying to be jumpscary or mental-breakdown-scary…

              It is already extremely cliche-ific, and it makes sense considering that the character of A.Wake is a hammy thriller author.

              • Vic 2.0 says:

                If you can’t see the Survival elements in this game, I don’t know what to tell you, except I’m glad to finally have a game like this that doesn’t have all that cheesy “improvised weaponry” or annoying “I need to find a healing herb” crap. And a game need not be so extreme to be considered “scary”. But I will say that horror in general does not exist without the cooperation of the viewer/player. I can take any game or movie in the world and make 100% sure I’m not the least bit scared by it while watching/playing. If I just plain refuse to let it get to me, I can subsequently write a review telling the world “the movie/game failed to be scary”.

                “The VAs don’t have particularly great delivery, for the most part.”
                “I disagree”

                As do I. I think the voice acting was quite good at every turn, and I’ve seen worse in many, many games that were more popular.

                “Sorry man, I love the game to death, I love the characters, the game play, the mode, all of it, but the tutorial was so bad that when I played it the first time I gave serious thought to just returning it for something less ridiculousness. First impressions are vital and AW opens not on its best foot forward, but by plowing face first into the ground.”

                I’m not seeing any elaboration here. Nothing specific to explain what makes it “so bad”. And after quite a lot of thinking about it, I would say the only negative in the entire sequence is the line “Cuz I’m gonna kill you”. That much is obvious. They should’ve cut that out. The rest of it’s brilliant, IMO.

                “Having never seen a significant portion of Alan Wake before… Yeah, as far as survival horror goes, wtf? There are some games where trying to figure out how to do things is a big deal, and survival horror is one of them.”

                I don’t know a single game that doesn’t tell you how to control your character (if only in the instruction manual). And if you’re talking about the light mechanic, I think letting the player figure out (or read in the manual) that the light hurts the darkness presents a huge problem in the story. What could justify a man who has a loaded revolver wasting time shining his flashlight at someone who’s trying to kill him? Even looking at it from the angle that he just saw how ineffective the gun was when Clay Steward was killed, it still wouldn’t explain why he thinks for one second that a flashlight would make a difference.

                No, they needed the tutorial. And they needed it in the nightmare sequence too! People who say the game should’ve started on the ferry aren’t putting much thought into this suggestion. After all, it makes the whole experience less frightening to know you have someone in the real world on your side (even if the light mechanic is only explained in the first manuscript page or something, it still implies you’re not alone). See, the way they chose to do it, you have no way of knowing this bright light (later revealed as Thomas Zane) is anything more than a figment of your imagination (especially because they chose such an unbelievable presence to give you the tutorial to begin with!) Makes the real world encounter with Stucky far more intense, assuming you’re 100% on your own in that lumber yard.

                “And the talking light seemed to be spewing cliches… though I wasn’t paying attention the whole time. Too many people talking. (good, bad, not sure yet)”

                Then why even throw that in there, if you’re not sure?

    • X2Eliah says:

      In defense of the SW guys, the whole SW show isn’t ever meant to give viewers an experience close to playing the game – for that you want unnarrated, direct-to-video let’s plays.. This show is all about commentary and talking *about* the game that’s played. Idk how that would work if they weren’t allowed to talk during potentially tense moments.

      • Blanko2 says:

        I know, I’ve watched the other series, I liked them. Basically, when they said they were gonna lp Alan Wake I figured it wouldn’t be well suited for it. So yeah, it’s not really knocking them, it’s more like knocking the game choice as not being suited for it.

        It’s not even a question of me really liking the game, because I really liked FO3 and FO:NV

      • anaphysik says:

        The only time the SW crew are forbidden from talking is whenever Mordin sings.

      • Victor says:

        Agreed. I don’t watch Spoiler Warning as an alternative to playing the games in question, I watch for the commentary, to see the game through a different view-point, and, of course, to see what crazy things Josh manages to do in-game (the first time I saw the “grenade pants” maneuver in Fallout 3 I was dumbfounded for a few seconds before I collapsed laughing).

        • Blanko2 says:

          That’s the point. How can you comment on how effective a game’s atmosphere is when you are just running off cliffs to make it funny? It’d be like if in Bioshock I played skyrim’s theme song whenever enemies talked. Atmosphere is a good part of what Alan Wake does well. FO3, NV and ME2 don’t really bother with that, they’re also not really suspenseful. AW just isn’t well suited for this sort of playthrough.

          • Shamus says:

            “How can you comment on how effective a game’s atmosphere is when you are just running off cliffs to make it funny?”

            It’s not like this is our first time seeing the game. We’re mostly talking about our previous experiences with the game while we watch Josh play.

            • Blanko2 says:

              That’s a fair point, though I am somewhat skeptical of everyone’s ability to not have their opinion affected by what’s going on in the video.

              I may watch another episode later, but I will definitely keep watching after this run of alan wake is up.

  14. Marlowe says:

    “Suddenly, the body was gone.”

    Cannibalism so early in the game?

    Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory also had a lighthouse at the end of the first level and you could climb up the inside of it for real.

    Deadly Premonition has this one beat for Twin Peaks references and general funkiness.

    • Marlowe says:

      Thief 2 (Precious Cargo mission at Markham’s Isle) had a fully operational light house as well, featuring a secret descending floor leading to a Jules Verne steam punk submarine pen. It blows Alan Wake out of the water.

      • Destrustor says:

        There’s also a lighthouse in point lookout (the fallout 3 expansion).
        I can’t remember if it’s been mentionned in the episode…

        Anyway, it too has a secret science base underneath.

        • TMTVL says:

          Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain had a lighthouse, where you got the deadliest spell in the game.

          Beyond Good and Evil had a lighthouse, where the main character lived, it gets destroyed when the Domz kidnap the children, though.

          Pokémon Gold, Silver & Crystal had a lighthouse, you had to get to the top to find the gymleader of the town, who sent you to get some medicine for an ill pokémon.

          There’s probably a bunch that I forgot about, but I don’t exactly have the time to replay every single one of my games at the moment.

        • Marlowe says:

          Jade, the protagonist of Beyond Good & Evil, had her home in an island lighthouse and it had an underground Thunderbirds hangar holding a hovercraft and a spaceship.

          Edit: damn, someone posted about it while I was writing.

          And just to put icing on top of the marzipan, the Thief 2 lighthouse underground Mechanist submarine pen also had a pirate lair annex haunted by the revenant of a pirate Captain.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        There’s also a (model) lighthouse in Monkey Island 2: Lechuck’s Revenge! (in the Library on Phatt Island)

      • Dude says:

        To be fair, Thief 2 was a Looking Glass Studios’ sneaker game. Those blow 90% of all other games ever made out of the water.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        I am a huge fan of Thief 1 and 2, but there is no comparing these two in ANY way. In Thief, darkness is your friend and light is your enemy and you’re generally a bad person victimizing good people. In AW, each and every one of these factors are switched around.

        …You guys think they oughtta come out with a game that meshes these two characters together in some way? Whether they are allies or enemies, I think that would be pretty interesting!

    • X2Eliah says:

      I remember trying to get on that small island/rock of a lighthouse in GTA3 for ages.. Just trying to ram a boat in just the right angle so that it would push up on the small platform, and I could get out and walk around there.. Naturally, water was instantly deadly in that game, and there was no point in getting “on” that lighthouse island, as nothing was really there, but still, it was a thing I wanted to do (never achieved it, unfortunately).

    • tengokujin says:

      Skyrim has a lighthouse, north-ish of Solitude. :3
      Obviously, Half-life 2.

    • Lovecrafter says:

      Silent Hill: Shattered Memories also features one.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      To the moon has lighthouse in it.And if you havent played it yet,go and try it,its a great game.

    • Irridium says:

      Doesn’t one of Left 4 Dead’s survival modes have a lighthouse as well?

    • Atarlost says:

      You and your fancy shmancy first person or OTS games.

      Ultima V has not one but three lighthouses.

      Civilization II-IV and possibly V, but I haven’t played that one, have tons of lighthouses. Usually one in every coastal city.

    • PAK says:

      Of course, there was a lighthouse in Sierra’s Lighthouse. Though if you didn’t know that, it’s most likely because, unlike me, you didn’t spend a good deal of the nineties playing terrible Myst-likes. [Shudder]

      EDIT: And I see “The Hokey Pokey” had already beaten me to this point. Ah, well.

    • False Prophet says:

      All of the main Assassin’s Creed titles except Brotherhood have at least one lighthouse. They’re always viewpoints, usually some of the highest in the games, but rarely have any plot significance–only historical.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Yes yes, many games have a lighthouse in them. But Alan Wake is one of the few in which a lighthouse as a dream destination makes a whole lotta sense!

      Makes me miss DLC#2, ‘The Writer’. That whole episode’s chock-full of epic moments *sigh*

  15. McNutcase says:

    While this looks interesting, the blatant product placement is somewhat annoying. Just in this episode, I see it. Just why does Ford see “people who play high-concept videogames” as a key demographic to capture for Lincoln? Oddly, having the lovingly detailed Real World car in there makes it feel less immersive, perhaps because the Generic Videogame Cars aren’t as bling-mapped.

    And I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice the horrendous faces. Remedy never were good at that (witness all the jokes about Max Payne being in dire need of laxatives) but… shades of the comments of “Guh!” that showed up at the start of the Assassin’s Creed 2 season. Seriously, Alice Wake’s face is scary.

  16. Sagretti says:

    It’s weird, but I’m kinda glad to hear the game isn’t scary. The general concepts seemed really interesting, and I love the Mr. Scratch character introduced in the DLC expansions. However, I hate, hate, hate scary games, especially jump scares, so I might actually pick this game up knowing I won’t be cussing at it within the first five minutes.

    Although I think the tornado stuff would still freak me out. I have a childhood fear of those dang things from growing up in the midwest, and just watching that still made me a little uneasy.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      While we are getting ahead of the show I have to say this: So that’s where this guys goes! Am I correct in thinking the DLCs never made it to the PC in any shape or form?

      • Sagretti says:

        The PC version includes all the DLC except the American Nightmare standalone DLC, which apparently already has bits of it showing up on Steam, so it’s coming soon, too.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Really? I’ll have to have a look into that. I was kinda rushing through the thing so maybe I missed some extras or something. I imagine they only show up after the game proper.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Speaking of “jump scare games”.. One time I was playing Dead Space which was infamous for that, in the middle of the night with the lights off (I wasn’t alone, though) But I didn’t jump. I was just like “oh, look, more space zombies to shoot. *pew pew* okay I’m good”. I think the bosses were actually scarier simply because they were HARDER. And some of the enemies (those super fast ones?) weren’t too bad…

  17. uberfail says:

    So being in NZ where we drive on the left. I was really quite concerned that Alan wakes up in what I see as the driver’s seat.

  18. SyrusRayne says:

    “Lighthouses are that kind of thing that you don’t see that often in real life,”

    Speak for yourself, man. I live on an island, there’s like three lighthouses nearby. Granted, they’re not the giant staff of god piercing the sky. They look more like this. Or this. (Also they’re 200 years old,) But still! Don’t generalize your audience. I feel alienated! >=(

    • Aldowyn says:

      That first one made me think “Someone’s taking the words Light-House way too seriously”.

      The second one actually looked like a lighthouse, just a bit stubby.

      And the cultural impression of a lighthouse probably came from the Lighthouse of Alexandria, infamous among gamers for its appearance in Civilization.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Not necessarily – there’s been a lot of ‘classical style’ lighthouses before gaming was even a thing.. And probably most gamers haven’t played civ to such a point to associate lighthouses with an in-game model.

        The thing with stubby lighthouses – well, the ones that are built on high ground already, on a hill on an island/peninsula/port, can afford to be short and house-like. The more classical style of stretched towering lighthouse is more often seen when it is built on a small rock completely surrounded by water.
        I suspect things like local wave/tide height, surrounding rock outcroppings and fogginess might also have an influence on how high a lighthouse is built to be.

    • PurePareidolia says:

      The only lighthouse near me is on a nearby island that’s home to a wildlife sanctuary with lots of rare and pretty birds. You can see it from the mainland on a clear day, but it’s non-functional. I’ve also gone to the one at the northernmost point of New Zealand. It as also pretty cool.

    • Hitch says:

      For people living 100 miles or more from the coast, lighthouses are exotic novelties.

    • I live in Michigan, where we have lighthouses galore. It’s hard to go anywhere along the coast and not see one.

      Edit: There are actually 124 lighthouses in Michigan. Look, a map: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/hal_mhc_shpo_lightmap_50933_7.pdf

    • False Prophet says:

      I think there might be a less literary reason for the lighthouse in this game:

      A lighthouse is the logo for Castle Rock Entertainment, the movie and television studio. Castle Rock is named for the fictional Maine town Stephen King sets some of his stories in. Castle Rock Entertainment also produced some of the most well-known film adaptations of King’s books, including Misery and the Shawshank Redemption.

  19. Thadius Girth says:

    There’s something I noticed here… Maybe it’s not SUPPOSED to be all that scary. Near the beginning, that ghost guy said Alan was only good for “Cheap thrills and pretentious shit.” Maybe the game is sort of based around that idea.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      If this is another attempt to convince us that Alan Wake is a bad writer because of the story that unfolds after the abduction of his wife, forget it. The environment in which Alan had to write the manuscript, that it was a rushed job, and that the dark presence was “heavily revising” it all the while makes Alan exempt from judgments based on the idea that it was his work.

  20. HiEv says:

    So it’s a game about a guy who has freaky dreams and his name is A. Wake?

    That’s a Rutskarn level pun there. :-P

    • anaphysik says:

      Had not noticed this. My own inner punmeister feels shamed.

    • Hitch says:

      Not on the pun level of A. Wake, but I’m noticing a trend of names in this game. The old local on the ferry was Pat Maine, a common setting for Stephen King novels and the owner of the cafe is Mr. Stuckey evoking the chain of roadside diners. I’ll be watching for more names like that as a the series goes on. Might be a worthy addition to the drinking game for this play-through.

    • bassdrum says:

      Honestly, I think that this is one of the things that helps blow Alan Wake’s attempts at tension and horror right out of the water: the puns and references (like the L. Jenkins Fishery, or whatever it is, clearly visible at about the 19 minute mark), the parody TV show (which comes up later on), etc. all kill the mood the rest of the game was trying to set. It’s hard to be engrossed in the sense of a fight for survival when you’re finding little jokes and references spread throughout the game.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “the owner of the cafe is Mr. Stuckey evoking the chain of roadside diners.”

        Stucky owns the gas station, not the diner.

        “Honestly, I think that this is one of the things that helps blow Alan Wake’s attempts at tension and horror right out of the water: the puns and references (like the L. Jenkins Fishery, or whatever it is, clearly visible at about the 19 minute mark), the parody TV show (which comes up later on), etc. all kill the mood the rest of the game was trying to set. It’s hard to be engrossed in the sense of a fight for survival when you’re finding little jokes and references spread throughout the game.”

        I can’t relate to finding the references distracting. What is this? You see a logo or hear a name you recognize, and your brain can’t stay focused on the situation at hand?

        As for puns and jokes, I’ve yet to recognize any of them in a place or moment that’s meant to be scary or intense. From what I’ve seen, they hold off on all that until things clear up, not unlike every horror movie and game out there.

  21. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Yaay, Spoiler Warning! I have to say so far five hosts are working surprisingly well, I can only imagine that you’re all trying to keep this under control and it will definitely get out of hand a couple of times, especially during a scene where three or more of you have something to say at the same time.

    Luckily I discovered Alan Wake was in my new housemates’ game library so this spared me the dilemma of “do I really want to pay for this just to play it before it’s on Spoiler Warning” so I’m finished with the game by this point. I have to be honest here, I scare really easily, and I startle easily too, so the very idea that the game is likely to spring something at me is enough to make me stop playing it when it starts getting dark outside and while the tutorial was too “gamey” to keep it that way there were parts of the early game when I had to wait for daylight. Though, again, I scare really easily.

    As for coffee thermoses, the only good thing I have to say about those is thank goodness they do not unlock any “secret ending” or some such.

  22. I don’t think Alan Wake tries to be scary.

    I do think it tries very hard to be strange – and that the writers are really very obvious about it, so that instead of the game making you feel unsettled and peculiar, it just makes you constantly aware of how very hard the writers are trying to make something weird.

    It’s like when you meet someone who tells you that they’re wacky – you know they aren’t, and that nothing they do will be at all unusual, but you also know that every interaction with that person will be a tiresome progression of their doing deliberately odd stuff in an attempt to provoke a response / make up for a lack of personality.

    Alan Wake is a bit like that, only replace ‘personality’ with ‘David Lynch’.

    (not that I didn’t enjoy it as a game – it wasn’t brilliant, but it’s quite good – but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wasn’t trying so hard!)

    • Klay F. says:

      Yeah, nothing bothered me more than when Shamus said that Stephen King writes scary stories. He doesn’t. He writes what could (very generously) be called suspense/thriller novels. Alan Wake by comparison does just about everything it can to ape Stephen King, from the writing style all the way down to the game’s premise. Seriously, the game is about a writer’s story becoming real. A fun game to play is to see if you can count how many of King’s stories have that exact same premise. If you answered: his entire bibliography, then you aren’t far off.

      Judging purely by how much the game tries to ape Stephen King, there is no way this game is trying to be horror.

      • Dasick says:

        The thing about King’s writing is that it’s not scary, but he’s very good at evoking the feeling of despair (suits him better IMHO rather than suspense/thriller). He can write about any situation and he will just completely suck away any sense of purpose in life and completely destroys the idea of “future”.

        Scary? Depends on what scares you.

        Depressing? The man has a Dark Gift. And if there is anything more depressing than his writing is the fact that he’s quiet popular. I guess people are looking for “release of their negative emotions” and to throw some meat to the gators.

        Also see “Different Seasons”.

        • Klay F. says:

          I know what you mean by that despair comment. I could only read two books into the Dark Tower series King’s style of writing made it seem like a pointless endeavor. Imagine my (lack of) surprise when the basic premise of the series turned out to be exactly like his other books, just from a different perspective. Also, I’m glad I didn’t finish the series, because judging from the spoilers I’ve read of the last book, I’d hate to be whatever poor schmuck was expecting a resolution.

          • Duhad says:

            Personalty liked DT’s resolution. Its not a resolution to be fair, but the more I think about it (over the last ten years) the more I think it was the only way the series could end with the way the world/tone/story works.

            • Duhad says:

              Sorry my math was off, its been 8 years.

              • Vic 2.0 says:

                “I don’t think Alan Wake tries to be scary.”

                In some parts, it does. In others, it doesn’t.

                “I do think it tries very hard to be strange – and that the writers are really very obvious about it, so that instead of the game making you feel unsettled and peculiar, it just makes you constantly aware of how very hard the writers are trying to make something weird.”

                So far, it sounds as if this is all in your head.

                “It’s like when you meet someone who tells you that they’re wacky – you know they aren’t, and that nothing they do will be at all unusual, but you also know that every interaction with that person will be a tiresome progression of their doing deliberately odd stuff in an attempt to provoke a response / make up for a lack of personality.”

                Yep, still thinking this spiel is based on nothing…

                “(not that I didn’t enjoy it as a game – it wasn’t brilliant, but it’s quite good – but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wasn’t trying so hard!)”

                I don’t see any reason to conclude they were trying “so hard” to be strange, but I wish you would’ve tried just a bit harder to convince a critical thinker like me that this accusation was inspired by something specific about the game, and not just a bias on your part.

                “Yeah, nothing bothered me more than when Shamus said that Stephen King writes scary stories. He doesn’t. He writes what could (very generously) be called suspense/thriller novels. Alan Wake by comparison does just about everything it can to ape Stephen King, from the writing style all the way down to the game’s premise. Seriously, the game is about a writer’s story becoming real. A fun game to play is to see if you can count how many of King’s stories have that exact same premise. If you answered: his entire bibliography, then you aren’t far off.

                Judging purely by how much the game tries to ape Stephen King, there is no way this game is trying to be horror.”

                Another thing “Alan Wake apes Stephen King” on, is that the makers of Alan Wake somehow made everyone think it was meant to be a straight-out horror game, just like Steve! The difference, however, is that Stephen King didn’t write “Psychological Thriller” on the cover of any of his books… Kinda makes you think the notion that Alan Wake’s trying to “ape” Stephen King is really a tell-tale sign of its critics’… lack of attention to detail, huh?

    • Eric says:

      This. Alan Wake is not a horror game and it doesn’t really intend to be. The game is very much Twin Peaks, and while it goes for a Stephen King sort of vibe, it’s also made abundantly clear throughout the game that Alan Wake’s own writing is of some of the lowest, bargain bin caliber. Like Max Payne’s ultra-cheesy, almost parody-noir writing, Alan Wake is kind of an amalgam of horror cliches examined from behind a pane of glass.

      Where the game really gets interesting is in how it allows for so many different interpretations of events, and how it makes you question the nature of reality vs. fiction. It’s not exactly deep stuff, but the way it is presented is very effective and definitely gets you to see the game’s events in a very different light as the plot rolls on.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “The game is very much Twin Peaks, and while it goes for a Stephen King sort of vibe, it’s also made abundantly clear throughout the game that Alan Wake’s own writing is of some of the lowest, bargain bin caliber.”

        I’m going to take a wild guess and say your evidence for that conclusion is the manuscript that the dark presence essentially wrote (i.e., not enough evidence to support your claim).

  23. TheRocketeer says:

    I, too, could never figure out if it was supposed to be out-and-out scary or not. I was expecting it to be a horror game, but the box never refers to it as such, calling it a ‘thriller’ instead.

    I must say, judged as a thriller, I think it certainly succeeds; I did rather like the game, despite its flaws. It just wasn’t ever scary. But if it wasn’t trying to be, it’s not really very fair to judge it by that standard.

    I just still don’t really get what it was going for.

    Also: Spoiler Warning is back! YEAAAAAHH!

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      There are parts of it that I was convinced it was meant to be scary, but they were the relatively few parts I was actually scared in. For the most part, all indications are that it was intended to be a thriller with elements of horror here or there.

      But what’s in a name.

  24. Jace911 says:

    “Josh The Interruptorator”; great title, or BEST title?

  25. Fang says:

    The coffee thermoses would haven’t been weird if we see Alan drinking from it, in the normal world area in the beginning and the ones you collect are like slightly distorted(bit of blood, an eye, etc). Kind of like “Well something is up, but I love coffee and I just have to get it.” type deal for the character.

    • Chris says:

      Well what makes them particularly odd is that everything else has an explanation – the random weapons strewn about, the manuscript pages, the safe havens, etc are all explained.

      But the coffee canisters are just there – out in the wilderness. For no reason. They offer no gameplay mechanic to tie them into play, they don’t really represent anything thematically, and there’s no reward outside of an achievement to collect them. The levels don’t even really facilitate exploration the way, say, a platformer can – we get into that a little bit later this week.

      I think Rutskarn’s right here – they’re a vestigial mechanic from when the game was open world that one or more people on the dev team enjoyed too much to toss in the transition.

  26. Nick P. says:

    Coffee thermoses?

    Reminds me of the dead birds in Condemned: Criminal Origins.

    I mean, dead birds, really?

    Haven’t played this game, but so far I am enjoying the small town details as they’re on the way in. Truck on the ferry with blood in the bed and two rifles in the rifle rack? Totally normal in such towns and not the least bit out of place. Hell, after the local guy mentioned that next week is deer fest I’d have been disappointed not to see something like that if anything.

  27. zob says:

    The moment I saw the flashlight mechanic my internal search engine kicked in “That isn’t an original mechanic but where did I saw that first?” After spending some time on it I remembered same thing was used in a relatively low key survival horror game called ObsCure from 2005.

    To quote:
    …The students discover that the enemies are sensitive to light, with direct sunlight being able to destroy them. Flashlights help to slightly weaken their foes and the malevolent black aura surrounding them…

  28. Neil D says:

    In addition to the absurdly distracting coffee thermoses, the whole story seems to have a coffee theme running through it. Everyone talks about coffee constantly throughout the thing. Turning on the coffee maker is a plot quest in the flashback to New York, for crying out loud.

    I’m only starting episode 6 right now, but I’m expecting the Dark Presence to reveal itself as Juan Valdez at the end.

    P.S. Other video game lighthouses: Ultima (V, VI and IX, at least), Skyrim

    • Also Morrowind, whic with Rutskarn having done an LP, I was surprised he didn’t mention.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “In addition to the absurdly distracting coffee thermoses,”

        Lol, dramatic much? They’re just collectibles! Why is this such a problem for so many of you? So they don’t have a purpose beyond that, big deal. Who made the rule “All collectibles must contribute to the plot of a game” anyway, and when? Wish I’da gotten that memo.

    • Hitch says:

      “Damn good coffee, and hot!!!”

      Pat yourself on the back if you recognize the quote, but don’t strain yourself, it’s not that subtle.

  29. Gamer says:

    Did anyone else notice the irony of the game starting with a dream sequence when the main characters name is A. Wake?

    Edit: DAMMIT! Ninja’d!

  30. The Hokey Pokey says:

    I would say that this game is about as scary as a Steven King novel. The thing is, Steven King novels are rarely scary. The best they ever get is a little spooky. This game has excellent atmosphere when it finally gets going, and it is definitely fun to play. If you were expecting this to be as scary as one of the better Silent Hills, however, you were expecting way more than is reasonable. The first three Silent Hills are aberrations; ones that will never happen again.

    I can think of several games with lighthouses. There are those already mentioned, as well as:
    Oblivion
    Golden Sun series
    Silent Hill 1 and Shattered Memories
    Grim Fandango
    Several Final Fantasies
    Xenogears

    Also, Lighthouse: The Dark Being is a thing. I found that when I was double checking on Grim Fandango. It is a mediocre adventure game, which is unsurprising.

    One more thing: after playing Alan Wake and reading everywhere that it was “inspired” by Twin Peaks, I tried to watch it on Netflix. I made it through the first episode, but halfway through the second I had to quit. There was just way too much 90s.

    • Thomas says:

      Battlefield Heroes has a lighthouse too. I think when you’re thinking of a bit of architecture for your level, particularly a multiplayer, lighthouses come up in people’s thought processes quite a bit

    • PurePareidolia says:

      Skyrim also has one, it’s even horror themed and you have to figure out why all the inhabitants died.

      • TheRocketeer says:

        Skyrim has at least two: that one, and one near Solitude. They even have unique compass emblems.

      • The Hokey Pokey says:

        I’ve never been to the Skyrim lighthouses. I forgot they even existed.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Oh, it’s that lighthouse with the family and the basement and the caves.. I really liked that one, felt very atmospheric, made sense, and was pretty well-paced as well (considering especialy that it was just atmospheric ambient world-story with no characters to talk to and no cutscenes.. Just how much you as the player are able to pick up from the few notes, the hints and the level design/details/objects).

  31. Even says:

    Well the gamebox for the PC version I have advertises the game as “A psychological action thriller”. I’d say it fits the mark more than survival horror. Even if the thing I felt most of the time was anxiety to reach the next checkpoint because of the tiring combat.

    Wouldn’t say it’s a bad game, but the gameplay just gets so damn repetitive half-way through. And the driving bits, yeah, like a poor man’s GTA. It works, but it’s nothing amazing.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      I didn’t find the combat any more repetitive than most shooters (where you still end up filling the same enemies full of lead only for them to show up again on the next level). In fact, I’d argue that most shooters are technically more repetitive, in that “Burn the darkness away. Shoot. Burn the darkness away. Shoot.” will never be as repetitive as “Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot again.”

  32. Zak McKracken says:

    It’s kind of sad how the game drops you from beign chased by one unnamed horror to “high, here’s this horrible thing chasing you, and this is how you kill it, great, now carry on” — and then you kill 10 of the things. Not good. That’s like going from the original Alien to a typical Assassin’s Creed tutorial and then be dropped back into Aliens, the sequel … I wonder if this becomes Rambo III before the end.

    I also would appreciate this video a lot more if someone wasn’t yanking the mouse about for no reason all of the time.
    okay, I may be a bit more sensitive in that direction (e.g. I couldn’t watch any of the fallout vids on fullscreen for reasons of acute bunny-hopping) than most others (no idea why, I used to play worse games than this, for nights on end), but … yeah, let’s see how long my stomach will play nice.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “It’s kind of sad how the game drops you from beign chased by one unnamed horror to ‘high, here’s this horrible thing chasing you, and this is how you kill it, great, now carry on’ — and then you kill 10 of the things. Not good. That’s like going from the original Alien to a typical Assassin’s Creed tutorial and then be dropped back into Aliens, the sequel … I wonder if this becomes Rambo III before the end.”

      Kinda hard to figure out what the specific problem with this is. I suppose they could’ve thrown the entire tutorial in with the learning to walk/sprint, look up and down, etc. before you see a single foe. But that would’ve been kinda cheesy and there wouldn’t have been that cool scene with Clay Steward getting killed (which even the SW crew liked). I think part of the objective of this sequence was to set the pace of the game. You have to have a firm sense of danger before you can appreciate the sense of safety, that kind of thing.

  33. PurePareidolia says:

    There are so many things wrong up until this point. First, the hitchhiker keeps yelling about “HEY MR WAKE I’M A CHARACTER IN YOUR NOVELS COME TO LIFE TRYING TO KILL YOU ISN’T THAT SCARY???” and not only does it remove any mystery about him, it removes any tension from the scene because you know exactly what’s happening and they don’t even put his voice through a “scary” filter. If they’d had him be more subtle or ambiguous muttering lines about Alan “playing god” or being his father or something it might at least be unsettling.

    The giant glowy light should be a weak flickering candle in a dark abyss, not the spotlight of god himself. It should be panicking and begging him to use the light, not pausing time and giving him a tutorial scene.

    There shouldn’t be a narrator at all, but having Alan panic and complain that it’s like a Stephen King novel is fine.

    The atmosphere just has so many obvious holes in it, it’s frustrating to watch.

    • X2Eliah says:

      “it removes any tension from the scene because you know exactly what’s happening” – So things can only be scary if you have no clue what is going on?

      Because here’s what I’d think would happen if that character was left completely unexplained. Shamus would rant and moan about how “it doesn’t make sense, how there’s no point to this, how there’s no way for the gamer to understand what is going on” (simply because he has done so time and time again to games that did that), Mumbles would go “lol zombies with axe, they so boring”, Josh would say “Yeah, this is wayy too easy” (while falling off a ledge for comic relief), and Chris would probably say that in S.King’s novels, the readers at least got to know what was going on most of the time.

      I’m not criticizing the cast, if that’s your impression. I’m making the point that making this scary axe guy a complete unknown would in no way make things better, and I bet it wouldn’t make it scarier one bit either.

      At the end, this is still a game – and if the first few minutes are nonsensical and not explaining anything at all, leaving the player in a total “wtf” state, then most players are likely to just plain quit. You don’t have to look far to find people who judge if a game is good or bad purely out of the first few minutes, and if you fail to already hook them with some plot explanations to make them go “Aah, okay, that explains it”, you’ll get bad feedback & reviews. Moreso given that the game is a new IP and normally we’d have no idea who the hell Alan is, what he does, writes, and how the scary axe man is even involved in his life.

      • anaphysik says:

        “it removes any tension from the scene because you know exactly what’s happening” – So things can only be scary if you have no clue what is going on?

        Chris would probably say that in S.King’s novels, the readers at least got to know what was going on most of the time.

        Okay… *sigh* so, first words of the game:

        Stephen King once wrote that “Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.” In a horror story, the victim keeps asking “why?” But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn’t be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it’s what we’ll remember in the end.

        Now, I’m not certain *I* agree with that sentiment, but unless the game is intentionally subverting its opening thesis with its opening scene, then it seems that the game’s intended answer to “So things can only be scary if you have no clue what is going on?” would be “Damn straight!”

        • PurePareidolia says:

          Exactly. It makes a rule then immediately subverts it by explaining exactly what’s going on, which is the problem I have. Not that there can’t be any exposition – if they left the hitchhiker silent we’d assume he was getting revenge for being run over which is a perfectly scary and valid motive for an axe murderer to have. If we then found out later he was a character in one of Alan’s books that might be an interesting reveal, but it’s showing it’s hand too early.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            “There are so many things wrong up until this point. First, the hitchhiker keeps yelling about ‘HEY MR WAKE I’M A CHARACTER IN YOUR NOVELS COME TO LIFE TRYING TO KILL YOU ISN’T THAT SCARY???’ and not only does it remove any mystery about him, it removes any tension from the scene because you know exactly what’s happening and they don’t even put his voice through a “scary” filter.”

            What do you mean by “scary filter”? His voice is being distorted and sounds plenty disturbing! And like X2Eliah said, this was their way of establishing that Alan was a writer and he had killed off the main character of his novels (adding a bit of depth to your protagonist), and I agree with him that pointing out who the man was did nothing to hurt the horror/tension.

            Lastly, I don’t see how the dialogue is that bad (despite your misquoting it) except for the end where he says “I’m gonna kill you”. That was a bit obvious, they could’ve cut that part out.

            “The giant glowy light should be a weak flickering candle in a dark abyss, not the spotlight of god himself. It should be panicking and begging him to use the light, not pausing time and giving him a tutorial scene.”

            Again, this is all about setting the pace. Making you associate the light with safety so that when it’s gone (and it leaves pretty quick), you know you’re in danger. And neither the suggestion of a panicky tone nor that of him being a flickering candle would fit the rest of the story. How would he have saved Alan from the cabin if he was just a puny little light? How would we come up with these theories of Zane being a potential bad guy if he wasn’t inexplicably calm all the while? Besides, you had your panicky NPC just a few seconds ago! Now it’s time for a bit of mystery, and there’s nothing they could’ve done to do mystery better in this scene than exactly what they did.

            “There shouldn’t be a narrator at all, but having Alan panic and complain that it’s like a Stephen King novel is fine.”

            That would’ve made it almost comical! What are you trying to do here? I think the narration was fine. Some found his voice “soothing”, but I’d say it’s more nervous and indicative of a weakling, which made me feel all the more vulnerable controlling him. Further, the tone of his voice makes the clash that is the introduction of any action all the more apparent and disturbing. At least in my opinion.

            “The atmosphere just has so many obvious holes in it, it’s frustrating to watch.”

            This doesn’t make one iota of sense.

            “It makes a rule then immediately subverts it by explaining exactly what’s going on, which is the problem I have. Not that there can’t be any exposition – if they left the hitchhiker silent we’d assume he was getting revenge for being run over which is a perfectly scary and valid motive for an axe murderer to have. If we then found out later he was a character in one of Alan’s books that might be an interesting reveal, but it’s showing it’s hand too early.”

            Except that “it’s hand” wasn’t a real one. There’s nothing in the rest of the game to imply that the dark presence has anything to do with his earlier writings in which he kills off a character.

      • JPH says:

        “So things can only be scary if you have no clue what is going on?”

        That’s not what Ankh said. He said that if you know exactly what is going on, it sucks the horror away. Ambiguity is a crucial part of horror. It’s not like you can only have either no clue or a complete understanding. There’s middleground.

      • Shamus says:

        “Shamus would rant and moan about how “it doesn’t make sense, how there’s no point to this, how there’s no way for the gamer to understand what is going on” ”

        There’s lots of room between “thrown to the wolves” and “hand-holding nanny”. I even cited Silent Hill 2 as a game that let you figure things out on your own.

        Yes, some games don’t say anything about who you are or why you should care. Too much explaining is almost as bad as too little.

        Also, it’s okay to not explain if you can telegraph to the player that this is a mystery. It’s like playing a tabletop game and you notice a guy you thought was dead is back, and attacking the party. You question the GM about this.

        BAD GM: Yeah. I dunno. He’s just alive or whatever. Roll for initiative.

        GOOD GM: Yes, this IS curious, ISN’T IT?!? Muahahahaha!

        “I’m not criticizing the cast, if that’s your impression. I’m making the point that making this scary axe guy a complete unknown would in no way make things better, and I bet it wouldn’t make it scarier one bit either.”

        It might help to have him be a little more unknown. In the end, I think the god of Light Orb is the serious mood killer.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Yeah, I do agree. The orb of light is just so out of place it’s ridiculous. I just meant that having a ranadom axe guy without *any* explanation (I doubt they could have pulled off s sufficient hinting that early in the game, when we know NOTHING of any context) would, i think, evoked your throwing it to the wolves for not making any sense.

          • Gamer says:

            I think it would be different if instead of the axe murderer yelling at Alan, it was Alan who just kept thinking “What the hell’s going on!?” or “Why is he after me!?” or something.

            • PurePareidolia says:

              Indeed, if Alan made the connection between the character and his books (he’s a writer he should be smart enough to do that) it might be an interesting thing to happen amid running for his life. The fact the hitchhiker’s standing there going “I DISLIKE BEING KILLED OFF FOR DRAMATIC PURPOSES! THAT MAKES ME ANGRY!” is far from a comparable effect.

              • acronix says:

                Not all writers are smart; just hard-working.

                • Vic 2.0 says:

                  “It might help to have him be a little more unknown. In the end, I think the god of Light Orb is the serious mood killer.”

                  Which is exactly what it was supposed to be, lol. A sure sign that you are now safe. Setting the pace for the entire game. In laymen’s terms: Light? Good. Darkness? Baaaaaaad. ;)

                  Plus, they wanted you to focus on learning how to actually play the game.

                  Plus, he disappears without your consent and you’re left to die again. See? “Problem” solved.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        Making the scary axe guy a complete unknown would work for three reasons. One: it’s the first level of the game, a shadowy axe murderer Freddy Kruger type establishes a threat which can then be investigated as part of the plot. Two: He won’t be a complete unknown – being hit by a car is motive enough and it’s kind of a known horror trope that the main character/s make a tragic mistake that comes back to haunt them – people will get it if he isn’t yelling exposition. Even if it’s not visibly the hitchiker himself, maybe it’s someone the hitchhiker knew or something – there’s room to fill in the blanks and a sensible explanation doesn’t require a huge leap of logic. Finally, it’s happening in a dream. Weird things happen in dreams all the time, especially if it’s a nightmare he’s been having. He can then speculate on it, reveal it’s similar to a plot from one of his books and we can go “oh, I guess that makes sense” and then he can go “but there’s something else, the hitchiker in my books was never a demonic shadow being, I wonder why that is?” and we can go “gee Alan, I don’t know, it sure is mysterious, I better keep playing to find out if there’s anything funny going on”.

        So good times all around. No horror movie ever reveals the killer’s identity and motive in the first five minutes. In Jaws, it was 40 minutes before you saw the shark, in Scream, we know the killer’s MO, but nothing else about them until the end – horror thrives on mystery and the reveal is as important as the buildup.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          “No horror movie ever reveals the killer’s identity and motive in the first five minutes.”

          Agreed. It’s good that Alan Wake didn’t do this either :)

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      *sigh* There is nothing wrong with a tutorial that takes time to make sure you’re focused on learning how to play the game, particularly as it was immediately followed by your being attacked by Taken the moment your protector is gone.

      I liked everything the hitch hiker said except “cuz I’m gonna kill you”. That much was pretty obvious. Shoulda had him say “You’re in this now. Welcome to the Hell you created”, something to that effect ;)

      And I don’t get the short attention span. The narration didn’t distract me one bit from the fact that I stood a chance of dying at the hands (and blades) of those freaks!

  34. AlternatePFG says:

    I really liked Alan Wake, but maybe it’s because I took it as less of a serious horror game and more pulpy and self aware almost to the point of parody. I mean, it can be tense and atmospheric in some areas, but the fact that it pretty much tackles every major cliche in this kind of a story and lampshades it at least in some way makes me think (Or want to think anyway) that it was meant like that.

    I think it was meant that Wake was kind of a shitty/pulpy writer to begin with, with a huge ego on the downswing of his career and that’s why he was such a prick.

    I mean, the story is really silly but I think that that’s the point. The Stephen King references were obnoxious, but that’s just Wake trying to make himself seem like better of a writer than he actually is by comparing his writing to his. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  35. GHbacon says:

    Well, this being one of my favorite games I guess I’ll stop lurking on the site and actually comment. Look forward to hearing you guys’ opinions on the game, especially the DLC and American Nightmare if its brought up.

  36. Dasick says:

    Hmm. Game Idea from watching this vid:

    You play as a thriller/horror writer suffering from insomnia and horrible nightmares. You recently get diagnosed with depression and prescribed sleeping pills, but you suddenly realise that your writing sucks. It seems that you remember more about your nightmares than you care to think about. You just can’t shake the bad dreams off, they trail into the real world, for better or for worse… and you decide to take the hit, for the sake of your career.

    The overarching goal of the game is to “write” a good horror novel. During the day you go about your day (open-ish city, think Mafia2), triggering situations to appear in the dream realm.

    At night you enter a procedurally generated world. The ultimate goal is exploration, find something “interesting” to “write” about. This works by advancing through procedurally assembled “clouds” within the dream. The moment you leave an area it is wiped and when you return something different takes it’s place, drawing upon the scenery you’ve encountered during the day. Exceptions are the key clouds that have pieces of the puzzle. Puzzles are random, but you’re never really told what to do with each one. Ideally they need to have some sort of symbolism, but it’s okay for the them to be random. Simple things like “press the buttons in the correct order” or “move object to place” or something like that. Once you solve a puzzle, a scene plays out. The dream ends when you get consumed by a nightmare – killed or trapped by either the environment or the actors in it. As many rules as possible should be drawn from a random pool. Gravity, friction, character movement works, the hazards etc etc. The more bizarre the better, though if they can have some symbolism it would be nice.

    The idea is that there are bad things in the game world – but you don’t know the rules because they’re constantly changing. You might find a gun only to find that the ‘mares have the “shadow” quality ie bullets don’t hurt them. And even “death” can just give them a different set of qualities and abilities.

    And for the “piece de resistance”, the game behaves like a roguelike in the real world. Crashing a car, falling of a big height, other similar day to day hazards. Seems simple to avoid, right? Except that as you play the game, nightmares start to seep into the real world. You start seeing places as you see them in dreams as opposed to the way they actually are laid out – but they’re still the way the are in RL. People and objects turn into monsters, and while they can’t hurt you, you will pass out if they consume you. Which can be fatal if that happens as you’re for example, driving.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Procedural horror is definitely worth exploring, quite apart from not knowing precisely what you’ll find, knowing for certain that a particular segment of the game hasn’t been specifically vetted by a developer who wants every player to finish brings with it the possibility of defeat, the possibility of facing a greater power. I’m always a lot more on-edge playing older games with no save function.
      Of course, all that is just cheap adrenaline and will only support an existing feeling of terror, not create one, but I always feel that any sense of fear or awe I’m supposed to feel about an enemy quickly evaporates if it’s just not an actual threat in the mechanics of the gameworld. So I suppose a section where it works out what gaming abilities you have and works out how to push you outside of your comfort zone, for example with something goes slightly beyond your competence in something you really pride yourself on, would be an interesting way to raise tension in a somewhat personal way.

      • I’m very interested in seeing these things, however it would take a LOT more work to get right than just a regular, linear, survival horror game. Generating the world from how the player plays is a solution to much of the balancing problems, but requires very complicated code, in fact, I’m pretty sure it would have to be a neural network.

  37. Benjamin says:

    Little Big Adventure 2 has a lighthouse. :D

  38. CalDazar says:

    Thoughts
    Yay Mumbles is back! Now we have Chris she is tied for best voice, but still my favorite cannibalistic commenter.

    I have zero real knowledge of Alan Wake, (Why do I try and spell that “Alen”?) I have some friends who tell me the game is amazing and I really should try it, but they only finished the game once. With these friends that is either a sign the game wasn’t really worth the effort twice (Space Marine) or that it really did scare them (Condemned). I’ve been leaning toward the former, given only one who praised the game picked up ‘American Nightmare’ or whatever the DLC was called

    I’m typically rather good at figuring out (Guessing really) why certain mini-games or mechanics are in a game, but I would never have figured out the coffee thing, I would have assumed it was simply a reoccurring easter egg that went over my head rather than leftovers.

    Rutskarn really is on the warpath here. I can’t remember clearly the last time he was so hostile to something in the show (Because I remember his hostility to the Thieves Guild in Oblivion very well). It’s right on the edge of my memory, along with laughter from Josh. Funny they seem to be connected in my memory quite a lot, I’m sure it’s a coincidence. Anyway, should be some good commentary in the future.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Rutskarn really is on the warpath here. I can’t remember clearly the last time he was so hostile to something in the show

      No kidding..
      Actually, it almost feels, well, annoying, to me :| – the way he’s (trying to) acting aggressive and hostile to other cast folks and the game. Idk. Pushing too far? It feels like he’s not so much in it for having fun as to have an angsty outlet.
      What I am saying is, this Rutskarn doesn’t feel like the earlier seasons, and this change feels for the worse.

      Now everyone quickly put flowers in your hair and sing “kumbaayaa” to appease the earth mother or something.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Yeah, puberty can be a bitch like that ;)

      • JPH says:

        Rutskarn didn’t like the game, so of course he’s going to have a bad attitude regarding it. That’s how it works.

        If you’re a fan of Alan Wake, you’re going to just have to suck it up. I had to put up with this from every single one of the commentators for the entire Fallout 3 season, as well as a good chunk of Assassin’s Creed 2.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Well that’s the thing, he sounded less angry at the game and more at the other 4 commenters.

          Also, I haven’t bothered to play Alan Wake, so.. Yeah, not a fan. For all I care, they can rip it to shreds, as long as it is amusing. And I liked (and still like) bethesda’s fallout3 ;)

        • Jonn says:

          If you’re a fan of Alan Wake, you’re going to just have to suck it up.

          Or I could just not watch this season.

          • JPH says:

            That is also an option, yes.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            “If you’re a fan of Alan Wake, you’re going to just have to suck it up.” “Or I could just not watch this season.”

            Or, you could watch it and correct all the things they get wrong? That’s what I’ve been doing, and enjoying every minute of it *shrugs*

            “I have some friends who tell me the game is amazing and I really should try it, but they only finished the game once. With these friends that is either a sign the game wasn’t really worth the effort twice (Space Marine) or that it really did scare them (Condemned). I’ve been leaning toward the former, given only one who praised the game picked up ‘American Nightmare’ or whatever the DLC was called”

            I’ve played Alan Wake six times now primarily for the combat and the atmosphere. But the story never lets go of you either. I bought the two DLCs and the spin-off American Nightmare as well. The DLCs were incredible (especially ‘The Writer’) but American Nightmare wasn’t near as good as the original game, IMO. Sure, they added new weapon and enemy types but they did so many other things wrong that these “pros” (and I actually hesitate to even call them that) can’t make up for them.

            “I’m typically rather good at figuring out (Guessing really) why certain mini-games or mechanics are in a game, but I would never have figured out the coffee thing, I would have assumed it was simply a reoccurring easter egg that went over my head rather than leftovers.”

            Of course, “leftovers” is just an assumption too. They really need no explanation, as they are merely collectibles. We have no reason to think it goes any deeper than that, nor any reason to demand that it do so.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      They should just play duke nukem forever already,so that Rutskarn can love any game they decide to do afterwards,

  39. Packie says:

    Yay Spoiler Warning’s back! >:D

    I have to say, it blows my mind how un-immersive and game-y this entire opening sequence is compared to Silent Hill’s, a game that was released in 1999. Anyone remember the opening of that game? Your car gets crashed, your daughter somehow gets lost and you track her into this creepy foggy town then as you’re slowly exploring, the game slowly shifts the atmosphere and tone from slow, dreading atmosphere midwest American town to this goddamn hell where corpses are hanging from street lights and demonic children with knives start roaming the alleyways.

    That game had such a brilliant opening. sets the tone of the game right away without insulting the player’s intelligence.

    • TheRocketeer says:

      It’s too bad the first title gets no credit. James Sunderland may have hatched that particular egg, but Harry Mason laid it.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      It’s different from Silent Hill…

      Good! I wanted something different. That was the #1 expectation I had of this game when I put it in to play it. And while it doesn’t get you immersed in the game that much before or during the tutorial, I personally found the atmosphere and the story captivating at all points afterward, including right afterward when you’re approached by Taken seemingly the minute you’re all alone.

  40. Deadpool says:

    So wait, how much money do we have to raise to get some console exclusives in Spoiler Warning?

    • swenson says:

      You know, aside from the bizarre lip-synching, I actually think I kinda like this game so far. It looks really nice, I like the characterization thus far, and the combat mechanics seem to work well. Obviously I’ve only seen a very small portion of it and I understand the story is one of those types where it makes no sense if you think about it for too long, but that can be overlooked.

  41. X2Eliah says:

    @ Mumbles about “I like when the game telss you to press a button when that does nothing”. (not a drect quote, obviously)

    Ergh.. I absolutely hate that kind of meta-misdirection. It doesn’t make me think the devs are being clever, or that it’s scary/funny/whatever, it justm akes me think the game is broken. The controls, after all, are not so much part of the game’s world as a part of the game’s technical support tools – just like the pipeline to push images to display, or the ingame texture renderer, or the file-streaming library. Messing with any of that doesnot imply adding fun twists to the game…

    Besides – as a player, you have no idea to know what the devs are doing behind the scenes with the technical stuff, what inputs do what at what times. If there is a story-based hook for something, then you as a player can reason out the what, the why, and the will it work. With a game’s popup telling “press jump to not die”, and the jump button being disabled, that’s not in any way possible for the player to actually realize or deduce as an intended mechanic.. It feels like a glitch, it is a lousy way of building up an antagonism between the player and the developers, and, well, seeing something like “lol newb you tried to jump hahaha” aftwerwards is just plain insulting.. Why should I as the player bother to keep on with the game if it intends to do that kind of meta-trolling against which you have no way of knowing when/how? It’s basically exactly as bad as the crappy nonsense “lol you die for no reason” outcomes in those CYOA stories (and a fair few games, unfortunately).

    • Nidokoenig says:

      I think the problem is you’re compartmentalising it too much. The developers aren’t after all, trying to get you to roleplay your character getting scared, they’re after YOU, and an efficient way to achieve that is confusing you, taking up as much of your analytical thinking ability as possible by assaulting your assumptions and shifting the paradigm and just plain putting the wind up you by breaking the fourth wall and attacking you on the holy ground of your assumptions on which inputs exist and do what and messing with your kinaesthetic sense. It’s like being attacked in a save room, the shock of that happening is supposed to put you off balance.
      Yes, like all fourth wall trickery it’s a cheap trick that doesn’t work for some people, doesn’t bear too much repeating, and has to be done well to work without breaking immersion, but the idea is take up as many CPU cycles in your brain as possible to stop or delay the frightening unknown becoming known by you applying reasoning. I remember the screen tilting and the volume turning down to nothing in Eternal Darkness the first time I played, and while it wasn’t frightening in itself, having to compensate for the oddity lead to being mildly confused and that left me more vulnerable to future frights. It did the job it was supposed to do, for me at least.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Well, I guess I am one of the people on whom this fourth-wall breaking jackassity backfires. I don’t get concerned, or think it’s cool or neat – unless it is done VERY well and makes absolute sense in the context of the game’s story (see Arkham Asylum, that one bit under Scarecrow’s gas infuence – I’d say that was a pretty great example of how fourth-wall breaking CAN be made to work without screwing over the player for no purpose), mostly I just think the devs wanted to screw me over as a player, and I frankly just plain don’t like that.

    • PurePareidolia says:

      It can work if it represents the character’s internal thought process – like in Portal 2 hen Wheatley tells you to say “apple” and it makes you jump. That was a great moment, and if you’ve got a situation where your character really wants to do something but can’t it can be an effective way to make the player get in character.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I didnt play the game,so I dont know what the quote is about,but I dont think its about the button on your controller.She says “the game says look for a button,but there is no button”.Ive seen this a few times,and it can be great if done well:You look everywhere,but the button that the game told you to search for isnt there,and you panic,and then you notice a button on a coat,and you think to yourself “Oh,that kind of a button,not the big red pushy one”,and it ends up being correct,and then you laugh in relief at how clever that was.

      • Mumbles says:

        Right, I’m talking about in game. A big bad says “Go look for a door MUHAHAHAHA” and you frantically search for said door, but there isn’t one. I really dig this and it’s well done in The Stanley Parable.

        • Amnestic says:

          I thought the “buttons which do nothing” thing was going to be a reference to Scarecrow in Arkham Asylum (and possibly Psycho Mantis in MGS1), and then was mildly disappointed when neither was mentioned.

          As for Alan Wake in general…I saw what they were trying to do with it, for the most part. The problems just beat down on my enjoyment of it. My first real major gripe? Manuscript pages. Not the collection itself, that was fine. I’m all for collecting stuff. Restricting my collection behind an arbitrary difficulty wall which in turn is restricted behind a “you must complete the game once first” wall? Yeah, that pissed me off. It reminded me awfully of games from yesteryear where you could play a few levels on Easy/Normal, but if you wanted to play the last few levels you had to ramp it up to Hard mode.

          Then when I got to the end (no spoilers here), I didn’t really understand. Maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention, maybe I needed to play it through a second time, maybe I needed to collect more manuscript pages, maybe I needed to buy the DLC (which my roommate said I needed) to get the full story. Whatever the reason, the end of the game just confused the hell out of me, but in a way which didn’t make me want to pick it up and play it through a second time. The game and the ending hadn’t earned that second playthrough.

          Not a bad game, it just felt distinctly average to me, and I’m glad I borrowed my copy rather than shelling out the money for it myself.

          And yeah, as to the “long development cycle time=bad”, I’ll just point you guys to StarCraft 2.

          • Mumbles says:

            Yeah, I do like the meta stuff like that, too. Remind me to talk about the Scarecrow stuff in Batman, everybody.

            • Irridium says:

              Talk about the Scarecrow stuff in Batman.

              • Vic 2.0 says:

                “My first real major gripe? Manuscript pages. Not the collection itself, that was fine. I’m all for collecting stuff. Restricting my collection behind an arbitrary difficulty wall which in turn is restricted behind a ‘you must complete the game once first’ wall? Yeah, that pissed me off.”

                I wouldn’t call it a bad thing, but I can understand why you don’t like it, having not enjoyed the game in general and therefore not finding the motivation to play it again.

                “Then when I got to the end (no spoilers here), I didn’t really understand. Maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention, maybe I needed to play it through a second time, maybe I needed to collect more manuscript pages, maybe I needed to buy the DLC (which my roommate said I needed) to get the full story.”

                Nope, the DLCs do not progress or explain anything that isn’t in the original game. But yeah, considering how easy it is for some people to miss certain details the first time they play it (made evident on this site’o’critics), another playthrough might’ve helped. That manuscripts don’t really explain anything about the main plot of the game, but they give some explanations for nit-pickers ;)

                “Whatever the reason, the end of the game just confused the hell out of me, but in a way which didn’t make me want to pick it up and play it through a second time. The game and the ending hadn’t earned that second playthrough.”

                I beg to differ! Played it six times now for the combat and atmosphere alone.

            • Gamer says:

              But didn’t Batman kill Scarecrow.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “@ Mumbles about ‘I like when the game telss you to press a button when that does nothing’. (not a drect quote, obviously)
        “I didnt play the game,so I dont know what the quote is about,but I dont think its about the button on your controller.She says ‘the game says look for a button,but there is no button’.”
        “Right, I’m talking about in game. A big bad says ‘Go look for a door MUHAHAHAHA’ and you frantically search for said door, but there isn’t one.”

        Of course, this sort of thing doesn’t happen in Alan Wake. At all. Just wanted to clarify that for everybody.

  42. JPH says:

    “A long development cycle is a bad sign.”

    Unless it’s by Valve or Blizzard! Need I remind you of Team Fortress 2, or anything by Blizzard?

    • Thomas says:

      The thing about those two, is they don’t actually need money so they can sit back relax and take as long as they like. Whereas stuff like LA Noire becomes a five year mess of crunching and desperately trying to find money to pay people until eventually you can’t take any longer. Still I think stuff like Red Dead Redemption had long cycles that worked

  43. Eric says:

    One thing that really bugged me about Alan Wake: the intro sequence. I know a lot of those elements tie in much later in the game and kind of make sense in retrospect, but until you get that far, it comes across as way too awkward and tutorial-like. They really should have started the game with the boat ride – fantastic opening, slow build up, introduction to the characters, and so on.

    I honestly think that sequence was thrown in just to give the kids some action within the first 5 minutes, otherwise they’d get confused about how their shooter didn’t have any shooting in it. While I can’t argue with getting right to the gameplay, though, Alan Wake is as much about shooting as it is about exploration and the story sequences… trying to fit the game too directly into the “third person shooter” box was probably necessary from a marketing standpoint but I think it ultimately hindered the game a little bit.

    Oh, as for lighthouses: they are great visual landmarks. They light up and tend to be rather tall, making them visible both in darkness and against the sky, provide a clear point of reference and a goal to head toward. Games do this all the time to guide the player and it’s a very basic staple of level design.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “One thing that really bugged me about Alan Wake: the intro sequence. I know a lot of those elements tie in much later in the game and kind of make sense in retrospect, but until you get that far, it comes across as way too awkward and tutorial-like.”

      I didn’t find it awkward, and it’s supposed to be tutorial-like! It’s a tutorial!

      “They really should have started the game with the boat ride – fantastic opening, slow build up, introduction to the characters, and so on.”

      You’re not putting much thought into this suggestion. After all, the tutorial must involve at least the remains of another being who’s on your side, even if it’s just words on a manuscript (to reveal to Alan that somehow light is what weakens these creatures). It makes the whole experience less frightening to know you have someone in the real world who is or was (therefore could possibly be again) there to help you. See, the way they chose to do it, you have no way of knowing this bright light (later revealed as Thomas Zane) is anything more than a figment of your imagination (especially because they chose such an unbelievable presence to give you the tutorial to begin with!) Makes the real world encounter with Stucky far more intense, assuming you’re 100% on your own in that lumber yard.

      “I honestly think that sequence was thrown in just to give the kids some action within the first 5 minutes, otherwise they’d get confused about how their shooter didn’t have any shooting in it.”

      Oh, please. Tons of shooters do that. Have a long sequence of nothing before the action.

  44. Phoenix says:

    “I bet you won’t even read all 106 comments before leaving your own. ”

    Yeah! This game sucks! :D

  45. Sephyron says:

    Shamus since you like survival horror i am curiouse, have you played any of the Fatal Frame/Project Zero games?

  46. Alex says:

    Alan Wake is one of those game stories that falls apart if you think about it objectively, even badly.

    And yet I look back on it as a net-win. It was just nice to play a game that wanted to have a story and setting more complex than “I HAVE TO KILL THE DEMONS”. And I liked the combat mechanics and set-pieces enough that I could tolerate the nitpicky stuff.

  47. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I must say 5 people on the show seems like a good decision,because it removes practically all dead air.And the interruptions are brief and sporadic enough to be funny,but not annoying.Keep up the good work.

    Also,I wanted to play this game before you got to it,but then grimrock got in the way.And then all zombies must die.Incidentally,if you like dungeons,you totally need to play grimrock,and if you like zombies,you totally need to play all zombies must die.

    By the way,how bad is something that even someone who hasnt played a single zelda game(well I did play the original,but never completely)gets the reference,and is somewhat annoyed by it as well?

    EDIT:I forgot to write my thoughts on stephen king.People always praise his books,but I never found them that good myself.I did,however,find many movies based on his books to be great.It somehow feels to me that his stories dont translate that well to paper,but are meant for movies.And maybe video games.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      PS:Sorry Shamus for making that comment marked for moderation twice in a row,but I didnt want to double post.Which seems ironic now that the time to edit has expired,and I end up double posting anyway.

  48. StranaMente says:

    I’m a bit surprised that no-one mentioned the new article from Yahtzee, because it is quite spot on: link.
    Also, speaking of good survival horror game, no-one mentioned the recent Lone survivor (link) which is a really good game, in my opinion.

    I think that what the survival horror genre boils down to is unsettling the player.
    The means to do that can be many: clumsiness of the action, scarce resources, unkown enemies, unknown purpose, irregular encounters, non-consequential storytelling, but most of all an unconfortable setting (which can be obtained by many means on its own).
    Alan Wake miss most of these elements (especially the unconfortable setting), and this is why for me this game is an action game, with some thrills here and there.

  49. Axiomatic Badger says:

    Just to be clear; I haven’t played this game myself.

    I can’t help but compare this startup with Bioshock’s, where there was no actual danger, but was actually scary. Also worth noting for lighthousey goodness.

    The writing so far actually reminds me a little of Lovecraft. It doesn’t seem to be a horror game as such, more a game “about” horror.

  50. Gilmoriël says:

    A lot of people have mentioned Alan Wake was trying to go for a Twin Peaks vibe and that’s definitely true. This becomes even more clear if you watch the little prequel live-action webisodes they put out online and on xbox live before the game was released.

    I recommend a look, especially for the spoiler warning crew if they haven’t seen them yet and they want more to talk about =P.

    The official site seems to be long down, but you can watch the full 30 mins of it here

  51. RTBones says:

    Coffee thermoses == Totally Arbitrary Collectible Objects (Tacos).

    5 points if you get the reference.

    As cast and crew have already alluded to, they just don’t fit here – while Tacos are perfectly reasonable elsewhere.

    Mmm…tacos. Hungry now.

  52. Thanatos of Crows says:

    Shamus, the next time Josh interrupts Chris, RENEGADE INTERRUPT THAT SONUVA BIATCH

  53. Gamer says:

    You know, Josh, that fall could have easily been avoided if you’d just buy the parachute augment.

  54. TraderRager says:

    Lighthouses ARE fairly common in games actually. Off the top of my head-

    Half-life 2 (Obviously)
    Left4Dead (Last Stand DLC)
    Fallout 3 (Point Lookout DLC)
    Bioshock
    Super Mario Sunshine
    Silent Hill
    Pokemon Silver/Gold/Crystal/SoulSilver/HeartGold
    Dead Island
    LoZ: Wind Waker
    GTA 3/VC/SA

  55. Jonn says:

    Well, you’ve finally done it. LP’d a game I’m actually familiar with and can reasonably explain just about every single quibble you have. As such, I am going to stop watching SW for the next, oh, two months or so, so I don’t end up yelling at you guys in the comments for missing things that are clearly stated in the game, such as the fact that Alan is a mystery writer, not horror, which is why his horror is crap. In addition to the fact that he was being mind-controlled by a malevolent ageless force at the time, which was basically the most irritating and oppressive editor ever, constantly forcing him to write the story its way.

    • Shamus says:

      Do you really think the writer at Remedy sat down and said, “I have to make this writing stiff and stilted so as to support the situation Alan is in”?

      If the writing had been GOOD, would it have taken you out of the story? “Oh, I refuse to believe than Alan could write this under these conditions!”

      I’m not asking you to “explain” these quibbles. I’m asking you to have a conversation about the game and about the elements we encounter. This is in no way invalidated by what kind of writer Alan used to be.

      Crimey.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “If the writing had been GOOD, would it have taken you out of the story?”

        After having watched about half of your episodes on this game, I must say I think it’s typically the player who jumps out of the story when they insist on making a big deal out of something that isn’t

        Examples:
        Product placement (Who cares?)
        Coffee thermoses (Who cares again?)
        Kidnapper says “This is the last stand”, misinterpreted to mean “Last battle with the Taken” when it really means they’ve reached a dead end (which they had).

        Or when critics fail to apply the tiniest bit of reasoning to answer their own questions

        Examples:
        “Why is there ammo and batteries just laying around everywhere?”
        Because Thomas Zane left them for Alan, as he’s the one with the manuscript who therefore knows roughly where Alan will be.
        “Why do the Taken have such awful battle taunts?”
        Because they’re not taunts, just things the people they were created from used to say. Sometimes they’re meant to be creepy, other times meant to be funny. Never meant to be taunts, ever.
        “Why doesn’t Alan show remorse for all the people he’s killing?”
        Because he’s assumed that since the Taken from the real world match the Taken from his nightmare (even including the way they “die”), so also does the statement “He can’t be saved” by Zane in the nightmare ring true in real life. Plus, with the disappearing instead of falling over dead and the repeating models, Alan probably figures he is literally fighting the same bodies over and over again. No killing involved.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Why do people keep pointing out that as a mystery writer its ok that his horror is crap?When did writers suddenly become so specialized that they can write only one genre well?Furthermore,mystery and horror arent that far away from one another.Id get the claim if he was a documentary writer,and was pushed into writing fantasy,but this?

      Also,like Shamus said in the next episode,their complaints arent about the stories not being good horror,but the stories being stilted and awkward.That has nothing to do with genre.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Jonn is spot-on. “Alan’s horror” is non-existent. He never wrote a single thing in the horror genre. He even tells you in one of the weirdo recordings of him in the cabin that everything he writes is being heavily revised by “Barbara Jagger” (aka the dark presence). One (who is thinking) can reason that there is some struggle being reflected in every page of the manuscript, between Jagger and Wake.

      Plus, he is not exactly in a good mental, emotional, psychological state after losing his wife to not yet understood forces and being trapped in a dark underwater cabin with only a mysterious witch who won’t show her face! Who could write anything good under similar conditions?

      And finally, he’s not writing out of creativity but “to save his wife”, which is what Jagger told him, which no doubt was as harmful to his writing as it was nonsensical.

  56. ? says:

    Is it important that in a dream Alan drives this old beige car, and later identical car is on the ferry just behind his real, modern car, or is it simply model recycling with no greater meaning?

    • Sumanai says:

      Knowing Remedy, that’s a good question. They did little stuff like that on purpose in Max Payne, from what I remember, but they also recycled models a lot.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Good eye! Could be the kidnapper’s car, which would naturally beg the question, “Why was Wake driving the kidnapper’s car in his dream?” It would be pretty trippy if, as they’re wrapping the series up, you find yourself at the kidnapper’s house doing a bit of research on Hartman’s affiliation with the dark presence and then naturally hop in his car to get away from an onslaught of Taken…

      …and presto, you’re back in the opening scene of the original game ;)

      It would give them another chance to properly introduce Clay Steward sometime in the sequel… Okay, I should be writing this stuff! I wonder if they’ll hire me, hehe.

  57. Jarenth says:

    That thing with the bridge at the start? Both a friend and me, independently, did the exact same thing. It was so refreshing to be able to walk off shit to your death, and I continued doing this quite often during the entire course of the game.

    Curious to see what you guys’ll think about this game.

  58. Oxymandias says:

    Mumbles trolling begins two mins into the first episode of the season.

  59. RCN says:

    Yes! Twenty sided is, once again, open to me.

    Huh… Alan Wake? This game barely got a blip on my radar. And only because of involvement with Remedy, but once the reviews got out I thought the consensus was that the game was just boring. This will be interesting. I really thought you’d jump right at Mass Effect 3. A little too early?

    Well, good, it gives me time to play the darn thing as I haven’t bought it yet, mainly because I’m putting off having to use Origin as much as I possibly can.

  60. Reality Warper says:

    having watched all of alan wake spoiler warning i had an idea as to how this entire thing could have been improved. get rid of 95% of the taken and replace them with stucky, rusty, that kidnapper guy whose name alludes me, agent nightingale, and maybe one or two other npcs. remove all weapons except flashlight (weapon) flare (shield) and flare gun (rocket launcher). now instead of fighting countless mooks with a shotgun you have to fight one implacable foe for the whole level and the game mechanics would go like this, use the flashlight and flare to ward him off and leave him shaken and after a random number of times (2-6) he is banished giving you time to breathe. at the next segment of the level he comes back and this will repeat until you find a spotlight or the sun or another major source of light to completely destroy him. the flare gun would auto-banish but have very little ammunition so you’d have to conserve it. also the taken threats would be half weird statements and half the time their voice would drop and get all legion-ish and the darkness would talk to and threaten alan wake directly leaving you confused as to who you’re talking to. also i felt the darkness manipulating objects would have been cooler if it were smaller objects and more subtle giving a more poltergeist-ish feeling as i always felt that was a really effective move in video games

  61. Vic 2.0 says:

    I’ll grant you the beginning wasn’t as scary as it could’ve been. But I do remember the first time I had to face more than one Taken (less than a minute after the tutorial). I certainly didn’t have the opinion that the game wasn’t scary at that time!

    And the words “warmly” and “friendly” would’ve never occurred to me if you asked me to describe Thomas Zane. He is NEVER quite these things!

  62. Vic 2.0 says:

    I like how you guys are sitting there criticizing the writing in the game at about 10:40, as one of the best examples of its good writing plays. Makes me wonder if you didn’t get prior practice talking over parts of the game that would’ve sucked you into the story and atmosphere…

    Approx 11:30, you complain about the comforting light in the tutorial. But this is actually setting the tone of the game. You’re meant to be feeling safe, then in danger, safe, and then in danger again. That’s why Zane disappears after the tutorial and you’re thrown to the wolves (and a tornado) in the very next section.

    16:30 – You demand that collectibles serve some other purpose than being collectible. This just makes you sound like you haven’t played another game ever. Here: The coffee thermoses keep Alan awake so he doesn’t get killed by the Taken. There’s the purpose, be happy.

    17:10 – Complaining that the tutorial doesn’t have any narrative or story, I don’t understand that. The tutorial has exactly what it’s meant to have, explanation for how to play the game. No, you do not need either to be given at any set point in the game for it to qualify as suspense; that’s a completely made-up-on-the-spot rule.

  63. Pat says:

    I notice that you did the same thing I did when Barry calls: Walk up onto the platform, away from listeners. As far as I can recall, the game doesn’t require you to do this or even suggest it. To me, doing that is a sign that the game is successfully drawing you into its world. I mean, when you really get a phone call, of course you take a few steps away from whoever’s right next to you.

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