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.