Alan Wake EP5:Renegade Interrupt

By Shamus
on May 1, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

108 comments

In which we punch the creepy Dr. Phil-esque guy. Because punching celebrity psychologists in the face, in a police station, during a kidnapping investigation / Verizon commercial is the thing to do.


Link (YouTube)

The “bootlord” thing is a reference to Rutskarn’s LP of Dark Messiah. The kicking mechanic in that game was hilariously overpowered. (Or maybe just over-fun, in comparison to the rest of the gameplay?) So he spent a lot of the game kickin’ stuff.

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From the Archives:

  1. Sozac says:

    Yeah! BOOTLORD is back! Speaking of Rutskarn LP’s what happened to you and Jibar’s Hitman contest. I haven’t seen anything on Chocolate Hammer.

  2. McNutcase says:

    I might have known Josh’s spaz-out in a cutscene would make it into the credits.

    For those of you worried about Mumbles, she survived her fight with the Joker.

    • anaphysik says:

      She must be a fuckin’ ‘Joker Whisperer’ then, right?

      That plus her innate Shark Whisperer powers… *shudder.* Thank goodness she’s a force for drunken cannibalism and not evi- oh, crud.

  3. Thomas says:

    Where was Mumbles??

    Also that episode sucked me in, I actually began to zone you guys out a bit and focus on the game instead which is meant as no discompliment because it was just that the game suddenly got fun.

    I don’t want to play the game but suddenly I feel like I want to watch someone else play the game. I also love the manuscripts, I feel like someone didn’t spend much time and attention on the delivery but they have really thought about what each layer of information will do to the player, it confirms things, adds just enough to be almost understandable and leaves you wondering about the future.

  4. Marlowe says:

    The title of the Wake’s rightmost novel on his bookshelf, Return to Sender, appears as the name of the marathon TV broadcast of Address Unknown in Max Payne 2.

    GTA: San Andreas has chain link fence climbing. (as a new, exciting competitive sport: “Extreme Chain Link Fence climbing. Tonight!” It’s a bit like hurdle jumping.)

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    The idea of a mostly-helpless companion reminded me of Yorda in Ico. It’s more of a puzzle game than horror/adventure, but I think they were trying for the same kind of feeling of companionship coupled with enhanced vulnerability.

  6. Zombie says:

    These credit titles fill me with foreboding. I mean, why would Josh need to be good at Donkey Kong in Alan Wake? And if it isnt that, why would their conversation even turn to Donkey Kong? Also, Ruts can keep looking for that Gangplank. Maybe he can count how many Sids long it is! Fallout 3 SW references are awsome!

  7. Even says:

    Thing about Alex Casey: The book titles are all references to chapter titles in the Max Payne games. Also, Alex was Max’s partner’s first name in the first game (the guy behind a locked gate who gets shot in the head in the Metro level).

    Also, that totally is Max’s voice actor (James McCaffrey). “Painkillers” and “late goodbye” kinda give it away as well in the manuscript. I’m not exactly sure but I’d assume the golden dual-Berettas trophy on the shelf is a reference as well.

  8. The Rocketeer says:

    5:24- I think this might be a symptom of these game developers having never kissed a woman before.

    11:00- What is it with horror protagonists and superpowered kicks anyway? Alan Wake and James Sunderland together could hurricane kick any elder god back into the fifth dimension.

    13:00- Everything with the kidnapper and most of the Dr. Hartman stuff are leftovers from the thriller that Alan had been writing before he figured out the dark presence’s plans; once he switched the story over to trying to stop it and save Alice, it became an in-universe dropped plot thread, and the characters are killed off conveniently. I thought it was pretty clever.

    • scowdich says:

      That’s an interesting way of interpreting that. Care to explain where the kidnapper got Alice’s driver’s license?

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Alan states repeatedly that he had simply been writing a thriller, like he was used to, and had no intention of writing the horror story the dark presence forced on him. Alice definitely wasn’t the original victim, and Alan definitely wasn’t the original protagonist of the original story. Alan had intended the whole kidnapping plot to run its due course like a normal thriller; only when he got wise to the dark presence’s plan to make itself all-powerful through his story did he insert himself into the tale, and begin altering the narrative to keep the darkness at bay and ultimately rescue his wife. So the driver’s license became Alice’s, the kidnapper became a victim of the darkness, Hartman became some sinister schemer… It’s nearly impossible to tell what connections between the dark presence, Zane, the Wakes, and the locations and residents in Bright Springs were real and what were written into reality after the fact to service Alan’s living narrative. I was really impressed by this, but until it starts playing out the game feels like it’s spinning its wheels.

      • Gamer says:

        Alan’s a bad writer? Perhaps that plot point was lost when the Dark Presence edited his manuscript.

        That fact that the whole game revolves around this manuscript coming true is almost like a get out of plot hole free card. Especially since Alan was writing under duress and the influence of the Dark Presence.

      • Amnestic says:

        If I had to hazard a guess, it was taken from Alan’s wrecked car. Seems like a pretty big stretch that he could find it, but I have no idea of any other time he could have obtained it. Ah, he could’ve pickpocketed/stolen it while Alice was buying torches before they headed to the cabin. I don’t think the timescale really works for the former, and I’m not sure the kidnapper had motive before the week-long disappearance in the latter case. So…I dunno. Maybe Alan Wake really is just a bad writer after all.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Of course the kidnapper had a motive before the disappearance! If you take Alan to the back of the ferry and hang around the kidnapper (who’s leaning on the rail there, btw, in case you didn’t notice), he mutters something like “We’ll see who gets the last laugh, city boy.”

          The question of when he gets Alice’s license is a good one. I’d say he either pickpocketed it from Alice after she dropped Alan off at the diner… or, somehow, the dark presence was behind getting them involved too… without even the kidnapper knowing it.

  9. Gamer says:

    Watching that sequence with Alice and Alan at their apartment, you really do get to know both characters. The way they just banter with each other and play off one another really gives you a feel of why Alan loves Alice so much. It’s just a little thing, but the little things matter.

    Also, I saw the whole game, and I still do not quite see why Rutskarn hates Barry so much. Sure, he can be somewhat annoying at times, but I grew to like the guy.

    • Amnestic says:

      I liked it for the most part, but some of the banter at the very end felt…stilted.

      Alice: “I know it’s stupid, but it’s just — especially when I’m not prepared for it, you know? It gets to me.”
      Alan: “I love you.”
      Alice: “Tell me a story, writer.”

      What the hell is up with Alan’s line there? I mean, really, why would you say that now? And she just ignores it as if he hadn’t said a thing! It’s like Alice was talking, but then the script writers realised (for some reason) they needed something for Alan to say so they picked something harmless and generic to slot in there even when it makes no sense.

      I dunno, maybe it’s just me who doesn’t go around expressing my love for others while they’re talking about how their phobias.

      And yeah, this is nitpicky as all hell, the rest of the scene was pretty solid on the whole, but sometimes it’s those little things which get to you.

      • Gamer says:

        I’ve seen many couples, almost all of them say things like that to each other in times where it doesn’t quite make sense. It’s like a combination of affirmation of their affection and a way to console their lover when they feel down.

        • Amnestic says:

          Maybe it is just me then. I just feel like “I love you” could easily be better substituted for something like “Shh, it’s okay” or…really anything that gives the impression that Alan was responding to her rather than talking at her.

          Again, might just be me >_>

          • Gamer says:

            No. You’re totally right. They could have (and probably should have) used a better line. I’m just saying that lines as they are now make sense, at least to me.

            • Thomas says:

              I thought the Alan line was okay, people not staying true to the original subject of the conversation is a thing. The last Alice line bothered me more, I guess people might say stuff like that but it feels hyper aware of the fact it’s fiction to me.

              Then again there is barely a work of fiction ever that has had realistic dialogue, it just doesn’t work very well. In a book you’re mind has to process the words and book stuff like paragraphs and sorting out whose speaking now and you can’t convey enough information quickly enough and in a film you’re on a strict time limit and you can’t show proper detail of the body and face of both people at the same time. As well you’ve got the fundamental distinction that the viewer is not part of your conversation so isn’t using up brain-power thinking of how to respond and is so more aware than either of the people in the conversation.

              So it all means it’s easier to just write a conversation how we think conversations go than how they actually do. I guess this failed because we noticed.

              *Incidentally this is going to be a huge benefit for games in 20 years time because it will be the first time the viewer actually is burning all that brain power trying to think of what he’s going to say

      • False Prophet says:

        It’s his tone. If he sounded more reassuring, it could have worked. It would have sounded like, “I love you; your neuroses and anxieties are not going to drive me away”. This line delivery sounds devoid of the conversation’s context.

    • Klay F. says:

      I hated Barry too… at least until around the 4th act. For some reason, even though it didn’t fit with the rest of the game at all, I loved the entire Anderson Farm sequence. It was one of those “so bad its good” moments.

  10. Lawton says:

    I’m missing a week. How does he know its been a exactly a week? There haven’t… been any calendars… or things like that. He just sort of knows, but that doesn’t make sense. If you lose your memory, it shouldn’t be possible to just be like, oh, a week ago I lost my memory. huh. Anyone notice any kind of explanation for that?

    and… Why do the cops let him go? He shows up, with a wounded head, his wife is missing, and he was clearly having issues. They wouldn’t just let him walk out, he is the most likely subject for his wife’s disappearance… I mean, really? Both of them have been gone a week, but he shows up and after a few minutes with the doctor, the police don’t even make him have a chat.

    • Zombie says:

      Plot hole, or it gets explained later, or was explianed earlier and we didnt notice. Those are the only things I can think of.

    • Gamer says:

      It was 14 days until Deerfest when the game began. Once Alan gets to the Gas Station, there are 7 days left until Deerfest.

    • Dmatix says:

      He sees a sign at the gas station saying something called Deer Fest is a week away, when last time he was conscious it was two weeks away. That’s how he knows.

    • Jingleman says:

      His Verizon Wireless smart phone has a Verizon Wireless calendar courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Why did they let him go? Big-time celebrity, big city agent threatening to call their big city lawyers on the small town Sheriff. I think it’s believable enough. It never says how much experience Sarah Breaker has in this line of work, and Agent Nightingale seems to get away with a lot in her city too. I think she’s got a good heart but no spine. Wants to see the best in everybody, especially in Wake. I got the feeling that she believed him immediately.

  11. Even says:

    So is there a thing you actually liked about this game, Rutskarn? Don’t get me wrong, but so far it’s like the game has no redeeming qualities whatsoever for you.

  12. Gamer says:

    I am glad that guy told us about the traps. To the unprepared, they can be too much to bear.

  13. Burek says:

    Anyone noticed that the “locked door” sound file is the same as in Max Payne?

  14. anaphysik says:

    Wow, Josh Alan was a real jerkface there, wasn’t he? Asking the doc about the fish and then sauntering out the door before the poor ol’ man even managed to get a good prattling on.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Awww,no Mumbles:(

    You know,this part seems nice.However,it feels so odd that it follows immediately after a part where you killed 50+ mooks.

    I get that game designers are afraid that without combat this game might be boring(which I think it wouldnt),but there are other ways to make combat in the game.Having mooks just cheapens everything.Make it so that you fight very few enemies,1 or 2 the most,but make it so that all of them are tough* and have a long build up before them.

    *Not tough as in have shitton of health(some may have,but not all),but tough as in dodging your attacks,waiting for you in the shadows,attacking you when you least expect it,adapting their tactics so you dont get them twice in the same way,…

    • McNutcase says:

      Good AI is incredibly hard. There’s a reason games have plenty of mooks; it’s relatively easy to create mook-like AI. I’d love smarter enemies, but it’s nowhere near solved.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Of course.But you dont need really that much improved ai to make interesting enemies.You can mask it by scripting the hell out of every enemy.Heavy scripting is why Ive enjoyed the showdowns in half life 2 so much,despite it being just 2,3 tipes of enemies at most.Besides,thinking of how to tailor every encounter isnt that much harder than making all these characters and their various interactions.

      • ps238principal says:

        The AI in the F.E.A.R. series seemed pretty decent. They’d use cover and try to flush me out pretty well.

        Granted, my own Actual Intelligence might not be all that great, so your mileage may vary.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its not just you,fear does have excellent ai.

          • Raygereio says:

            For clarificaino purposes to those who haven’t played one of the best shooters out there: the above posts are talking about F.E.A.R.
            Not the two sequals to that game who both feature the regular variety of mediocre / barely functioning AI.

    • harborpirate says:

      I think the way to fix combat in this game would have been to do the following:
      1. Do not give Alan any weapons other than his flashlight.
      2. Make the flashlight alone not enough light to banish the taken, so you need to lead mooks to a more powerful light source and then turn it on while they are close enough to it.
      3. When the taken leaves the mooks, they are incapacitated; unconscious, but still alive.

      This fixes several problems:
      1. It makes no sense that Alan goes on a murdering spree to survive, which damages the verisimilitude of the story.
      2. Combat in the game is too easy, so the player is often bored by the combat sessions.
      3. The game doesn’t give the player much incentive to seek out the more powerful light sources scattered throughout, so the player may not bother to explore the interesting environments that the game presents.
      4. The player can kill enemies at any time, so the game isn’t scary at all. Gun == power. Take away that power and suddenly the player starts to feel helpless and desperate.

      Makes me wonder if there is a mod for this game that works that way, because I really dig the story that they’re telling so far. I like the whole “Twin Peaks” vibe, and how it riffs on that sort of strange mysteriousness from that show. I think we could do without the exposition that explains the meta-story.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “I think the way to fix combat in this game would have been to do the following:
        1. Do not give Alan any weapons other than his flashlight.
        2. Make the flashlight alone not enough light to banish the taken, so you need to lead mooks to a more powerful light source and then turn it on while they are close enough to it.
        3. When the taken leaves the mooks, they are incapacitated; unconscious, but still alive.”

        What’s so scary about a game/movie in which no one dies?

        Well, with that out of the way, I think your suggestion would be playable as a fraction of one of the episodes only. After that, it would be even more tedious than people whine about the game supposedly being already.

        “This fixes several problems:
        1. It makes no sense that Alan goes on a murdering spree to survive, which damages the verisimilitude of the story.”

        He’s not killing them, they’re already dead. Hence the predictable references to zombie games scattered about this website. Also, you can feel better assuming you’re really only dealing with the bodies of about 5 humans, as the models keep repeating on you ;)

        “2. Combat in the game is too easy, so the player is often bored by the combat sessions.”

        Not me. Sure, I think the combat’s easy when I replay the game now but I think the only “easy” thing about the combat, really, is the excessive ammo supply. Surviving was often a challenge for me when playing the first time, especially toward the end.

        “3. The game doesn’t give the player much incentive to seek out the more powerful light sources scattered throughout, so the player may not bother to explore the interesting environments that the game presents.”

        Not true. There are tons of hidden chests to be found, which usually contain flares, flashbangs, or flare gun ammo. Plus, there are other collectibles to hunt down if you’re so inclined to explore.

        “4. The player can kill enemies at any time, so the game isn’t scary at all. Gun == power. Take away that power and suddenly the player starts to feel helpless and desperate.”

        Yeah, this is where “less ammo” comes in. You’d feel much more helpless if you had to actually conserve your ammunition. But the game does put you in positions where either ammo is in short supply or you have no weapon at all, just not quite often enough.

  16. Jake Albano says:

    I wonder if Chris sincerely can’t remember Megan’s name because she made so little of an impression, or he just calls her “what’s her name” each time to prove a point. I’m leaning towards the first, and I can’t say I blame him.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Whenever he says it,it takes me a few seconds to remember that she was actually named megan.

      • Zombie says:

        Whos Megan? Seriously, who is Megan, is it someone in the game?….. Wasn’t that Adam Jensen’s girlfriend in Deus Ex?

        • anaphysik says:

          Assuming you are not trolling: yes, Megan was Adam’s barely-present, forgettable, possibly villainous, poorly-handled ex-ladyfriend in DX: Hunan Beef.

          Assuming you are trolling: BUTTSKARN BUTTSKARN BUTTSKARN.

  17. ps238principal says:

    In regard to the chairs: Is “oversimulates” a term of art? It implies someone saying, “Great Gods of Pong! That object is being TOO REAL!” :)

    I am disappointed that nobody said it was a quarter-assed reference to the chair-stacking scene in Poltergeist.

  18. Lunok says:

    i already want to murder the agent

  19. Irridium says:

    For me, I don’t mind advertisements for real-world stuff if the game takes place in an actual location on Earth. Makes it feel a bit more real to me.

    But if it’s in some made up location, advertisements for real things seem a bit out of place.

    • Sumanai says:

      Talking about ads for real things, are there cellphones with a Verizon logo plastered on them?

      • Irridium says:

        I used to have a phone with a Verizon logo on it. Now I have one with a Sprint logo. And a Samsung logo. My brother has a phone with an AT&T logo on it.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Generally, any carrier-locked phone in the US is going to be branded. Most phones are carrier-locked. Pretty much all of the phones on Verizon’s are because, well, it’s not like you can use them on anyone else’s network (Verizon = CDMA/LTE, Sprint = CDMA/iDEN/WiMax, everyone else GSM/LTE), so there’s no point in buying an unsubsidized phone if you’re starting with them since you won’t be able use it elsewhere anyway.

  20. Deadpool says:

    I kept expecting Barry to offer to show me big American titties…

  21. X2Eliah says:

    Aw man. No Mumbles in the second week already? So much for a comeback, it seems :(

  22. JPH says:

    I thought the advertising fit alright in Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

  23. Packie says:

    The character models are actually pretty good. Then why the heck do they look nutcracker rejects when they talk? Serious question, is it really that hard and expensive to have “good” facial animation?

    • jarppi says:

      Character animations and voice acting were done separately. Motion capture was done in one place and voice acting in other. Voice actors and character models weren’t same persons neither.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P_xcKgn8_E (There are captions for this video.)

      Answer to your guestion: Good facial animation is very hard to accomplish but it is possible with today’s technology, has been a long time. For example, Half life 2 was devepoped in early 2000s and it still has one of the best facial animations I’ve seen.

  24. Tuck says:

    The audio in this episode wasn’t very balanced, I found it hard to follow the commentary as the in-game voices were so loud.

  25. Dragomok says:

    The kicking mechanic in that game was hilariously overpowered. (Or maybe just over-fun, in comparison to the rest of the gameplay?)

    Both. In Dark Messiah half of the levels is littered with a single, same model of Wall-Mounted-Grating-with-Spikes™ (you know, standard home appliance) that instantly kills any enemy kicked onto it, and the other half consists mostly of ledges and footbridges over bottomless pits, cliffs, very high staircases with no railings and some more ledges and footbridges. Kicks also instantly break parries (making every enemy helpless for a second) and – of course- suspiciously fragile pillars supporting heavy objects.
    And yes, game isn’t really fun. Combat consists mostly of spamming attacks. Restoring health after combat is extremely slow and mana regenerates so slowly, you can’t really rely on magic until late game. Equipment management combines the worst traits of both FPS and RPG genres – including arbitrary item limits.

    It also has an ending that’s uncannily – UNCANNILY! – similiar to the one from Mass Effect 3.

    • Raygereio says:

      You speak nonsense and heresy, good sir.
      Dark Messiah is an amazing game. Brainless fun. Well as along as you quickly realise that this game’s combat and level design revolves around the Boot and going pure magic is not a really viable course of action.

      It also has an ending that’s uncannily – UNCANNILY! – similiar to the one from Mass Effect 3.
      Erm. Clarify that one for me, would you? Because I’m not seeing any real smiliarities between the two.

      • Dragomok says:

        SPOILER WARNING: THIS COMMENT CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH MASS EFFECT 3 AND DARK MESSIAH! Obviously.

        I know the endings are not similiar thematically, and the one from Dark Messiah isn’t nearly as bad as the one from Mass Effect 3 (though it still is somewhat mediocre and unfulfilling) – but both games end with a clip of giant explosion/stream of energy that changes color – and color only – between each ending, depending on the last-minute choice.
        I know that’s not much, but every time I think about Mass Effect 3, Dark Messiah‘s outro pops up in my head.

  26. PurePareidolia says:

    “I’ve had it with your legitimate inquisitions!” *Punch*

    Most characters become less likable when Josh plays them. Alan doesn’t really seem to have that problem. And I mean, I get that he doesn’t want to talk about his hallucinations and amnesia, but why not let the police know the kidnapper just called him? Explain that he has to meet them alone at midnight and so can they give him a wire or armed backup or something. That seems like a reasonable thing to do considering he’s in the police station so he doesn’t have to go anywhere to do so, and it’s kind of their job. Then maybe when everything goes to hell it can turn out the police died or something and it makes “The Darkness” scarier (it kind of needs it – guns have proven to be quite effective against it’s minions).

    I mean, aren’t those manuscript pages predicting this? if I were in a horror movie and got to read the script in advance I’d do nothing but game the system and try to throw it off the rails.

    • Gamer says:

      The first reason: Alan himself admits later on (in the narration) that even he thinks he was acting irrationally. Considering his wife is supposedly kidnapped, I can’t say that it doesn’t make sense.

      Secondly, the manuscript says so. If you were using the manuscript to game the system, it would already be included in the manuscript that you were trying to game the system, so you would not succeed.

      Some of the manuscript pages later on reference other characters as they read manuscript pages. “Agent Nightingale took a swig of whiskey to sooth his headache while reading the page depicting him drinking a swig of whiskey to sooth his headache.”
      One page even says something like this “I looked at the manuscript page and read it. In it, I looked at the manuscript page and read it. In it, I looked at the manuscript page and read….”

    • Dasick says:

      Being called insane is pretty insulting to anyone, and celebrities tend to have big and fragile egos.

      Plus the doctor is using a very condescending tone of voice, and generally acting like a douchebag. He just assumes that Alan is crazy and hallucinating, when the most they have is “He seems confused because he probably has a concussion”.

      I’d punch him too.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “but why not let the police know the kidnapper just called him?”

      Its a standard trope.Police are always useless(unless the hero is a cop,in which case they are the only competent one),so the hero is better of not telling them anything.

  27. burningdragoon says:

    You could climb chain link fences in inFamous 2. That doesn’t sound too impressive for a superhero sandbox game unless you remember chain link fences were the only thing you couldn’t climb in the first inFamous.

  28. Venalitor says:

    It would have been “TOTALLY EXTREME!” if you had done your own “previously on” while the game’s ran.

  29. Vic 2.0 says:

    It seems to me (and I hope that I’m wrong) that you aren’t getting the reasoning behind the punch. Let me help:

    1. Hartman invites Alice to bring Alan to Bright Falls.
    2. Alice is kidnapped.

    2 can never come without 1. If Hartman hadn’t have invited them out to Weirdsville, USA, Alice would be perfectly safe. No, it isn’t right. But that’s the beauty of this game; they made a protagonist who could use some personal growth. You don’t get to see that very often in video games of any genre.

  30. Vic 2.0 says:

    7:50 (and what seems like an eternity after) – I don’t see the big deal concerning the “advertising”. Made the world seem that much more real.

    And the TV in the lodge is humor. It doesn’t go any deeper than that. Main character’s in peril! Could die any second. Perfect time for a commercial break! ;)

    And I think they chose the perfect moment for it, too. One might argue that it breaks the suspense, but all the truly creepy parts in the lodge were over already. You just had one more poltergeist to get past and you’re out. If I remember correctly, I just gave the commercials a chuckle. By the time I figured out how to get past that weird chandelier ball thingy, I had forgotten all about it. Nicely done.

    12:30 – The kidnapper had plenty to do with the story. He was Emil’s employee who was first tasked to get the rest of the manuscript from Alan (because they knew it “had magical powers” due to Emil’s previous workings with Thomas Zane). But then as a plan B, the kidnapper lured Alan to Emil so he could get him to the lodge, and this of course kicked the storyline into high gear.

    See above comment for my thoughts on Wake punching Hartman.

    18:00 – I think you’re supposed to conclude (on your own, ahem!) that it’s the Taken who have set, or just moved, the bear traps into your path. As for the glimmer, it may have been an unnatural light, but then so is everything else that’s interactive. And not just in this game! And of course true realism (only knowing where a bear trap was after you step in it) would’ve just been cheap. So, yeah, what was the problem again?

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