Alan Wake EP8: A Chainsaw for a Face!

By Josh
on May 5, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but Shamus had some sort of inexplicable problem when he tried to watch it. On an unrelated note, I would like to point out that Shamus is a crotchety old man that doesn’t have time to figure out you youngins’ newfangled “internet videos,” thank you very much.

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  1. X2Eliah says:

    I’m trying to watch this, but all I’m geting is some sort of an inexplicable problem whenever I try to watch…

    EDIT: My bad, it’s not an inexplicable problem, it’s Rutskarn’s singing being the first thing that’s “said” in the episode.

  2. DGM says:

    >> “Shamus is a crotchety old man that doesn’t have time to figure out you youngins’ newfangled “internet videos,” thank you very much.”

    Said Teddy Roosevelt. :P

  3. Packie says:

    For a Survival/Horror/Action game, it needed some sort of stealth system(Siren: Blood Curse or Metro 2033) or a just straight up allowed escaping battles a viable tactic(Silent Hill) because just looking at the combat is just tedious as all hell. Which is unfortunate because I loved Remedy’s Max Payne games including their combat.

    • Thomas says:

      Yes slow motion combat dive the Taken! Ah that would make this game so much more fantastic.

      I loved the way that if you weren’t particularly accurate and tight about using your bullet time Max Payne would jump into a room and then end up doing the Worm/an impression of a fish, until everyone was dead. ^^

      Good times

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      There is no way to incorporate stealth into a game where your enemies are only present (and omnipresent) at night. For the most part, escaping is very doable if you have the skill. So far, the only legitimate criticism I’ve heard about this game is that it gave a bit too much ammo the majority of the time. This is the only reason people are inclined to fight rather than flee; it’s just plain easier.

  4. Cracktopus says:

    While I agree that the Deep Roads were a bit too long, they only took me a few hours. I don’t think they deserve all the hate they gate.

    Plus they’re still better than Dragon Age 2.

    • X2Eliah says:

      A few hours is quite a lot of time, though, if all that’s taking place in those hours is fighting against identical mook groups in identical brown tunnels.
      Not to forget that each episode is 20 minutes, roughly, and we get 4 per week – so that’s.. an hour and a half, if we’re generous. The deep roads alone would go for 3, maybe even 4 weeks! A whole month of nothing but deep roads combat.

      • Cracktopus says:

        True, but it’s not like the SW crew haven’t used fast-forwarding before. And I’m not saying they should do Dragon Age: Origins, it’s not a very good game for something like Spoiler Warning in my opinion.

        I do love the game, though.

      • I don’t think I could handle that long of just constant combat. Admittedly, I’ve never played Dragon Age, so I can’t comment on that.
        All I will say is that I’ve seen DA mods that do nothing but skip the Deep Roads.

        • Amnestic says:

          I’m still not sure if Deep Roads is worse than the Fade. I mean, there’s a ‘Skip the Fade’ mod, I don’t think I’ve seen a ‘Skip the Deep Roads’ one.

          …though we probably should have one.

          (Haven’t played DA2)

          • krellen says:

            It’s easier to skip the Fade, because it doesn’t really go anywhere storywise – it’s a single instance, with a single entry and single exit, so it’s easy to create a mod that just moves you to that end point.

            The Deep Roads are full of side quests and branches, and even play (subtly) differently for Dwarven characters than for others, so it’s a much harder modding process to skip the Deep Roads than to skip the Fade.

            • Amnestic says:

              True, though I think they could make mods which fix a lot of the problems. Even just halving the amount of Darkspawn groups would go a big way to making it more enjoyable. It’d nerf your exp a bit, but I’m fairly certain an enterprising modder could find a solution (boost sidequest exp reward to compensate?)

              Skipping the entire thing does seem like a challenge. I’m fairly certain the Anvil of the Void is a completely separate map marker. Letting you access that straight away would help, assuming it doesn’t break the quest chain. You could always visit the other parts later if you want to do the sidequests.

            • Sumanai says:

              It was pretty easy for me to skip the Deep Roads, although I doubt it’s the kind of skipping most would want.

            • Irridium says:

              I’ll settle for a mod that removes most or all of the Darkspawn.

          • Hitch says:

            Deep roads went by much faster for me than the Spoiler Warning crew describes. But even that reduced amount would be rather uncompelling viewing.

            The Fade took me forever the first time I went in (not the little intro to the Fade as a Mage, but the major plot excursion) mainly because I had no idea at all what I was doing. Once I figured out the drill I could run through that fairly quickly.

            Dragon Age II had all the random ambush encounters where a bunch of mooks jump out and attack you in the street, then after you spend several not very interesting minutes killing them, a second wave drops out of nowhere to make the fight twice as long. The game was fairly interesting other than that. (Let us not talk about the One Cave.)

            Anyway, back to Alan Wake: “You no take thermos.”

          • Jakale says:

            I loved the Fade personally. I played a rogue so suddenly getting the power to screw stealth and turn into a burning skeleton that shoots the fireballs that piss me off when my allies use them (cause it’s hard to backstab something when you’ve been flung 10 feet and set on fire) made me the happiest pyro in the dreamscape. The rat maze was a less memorable, and less fun, part I’ll admit.

            • lurkey says:

              I loved it too. In fact, it is my favourite part of DA:O. Four forms that require different strategy and are used to solve puzzles (plus your own), nicely varied mooks, creepy environments, eavesdropping on your companions’ fears and desires….yum! :-)

              • Loafy says:

                I loved it too for the same reasons. I always looked forward to the Fade on repeat playthroughs because I could take in different companions and get to experience a different set of inner fear sequences.

                Also I think the main problem with the Deep Road is that it’s hard to skip because of the amount of plot that’s there, like meeting the Legion of the Dead and the super-creepy Broodmother section at the end. I wouldn’t mind skipping huge chunks of the dungeon crawling and etc there… but I wouldn’t want to miss out on the plot parts. I think the fact that it’s got a lot of combat slogging is compounded by the fact that it’s ensconced in already hours long Orzammar section with the politics and the Carta, which makes it a needlessly long detour instead of an interesting area in its own right.

              • LunaticFringe says:

                Agreed, the companion experiences in the Fade were the best part. I also liked how some of the more…let’s say emotionally pragmatic characters responded to the Fade better then the ones who had some kind of emotional torment. While Alistair was lost in his ‘family dream’, Morrigan basically calls the demon out on its bullshit right off the bat. Sten also realizes that his dream is fake but is willing to accept it because it’s a happy contrast to the life he currently lives as an outcast. Great characterization all around.

        • Thanatos of Crows says:

          I just started Dragon Age this week and I liked it a lot. That is, untill the Deep Roads. That was a point at which I really just felt an urge to stop as it was so monotonous I feared the ratio of great parts to mindless dungeon roaming would never get better. I got out of there yesterday, and and I’m glad I did go through with it. It’s a long strip of easy battles that still need your concentration (so you can’t just mash the attack button) that in no way advances the plot till the very end. Just as they said.
          Also, the game has a road riddled with beartraps like in rhe last episode. Meant for wolves according to a sign.

          • IFS says:

            I actually didn’t mind the length of the fade and deep roads until my second playthrough, but I still enjoy both sections. The deep roads I mainly enjoy because of the very creepy part near the end and the fade I enjoy because of the bits where it reveals things about your companions.

            • Aldowyn says:

              I didn’t even notice the deep roads not being as good as the rest of it. It might be because I really like Thedas’ dwarves.

            • Thanatos of Crows says:

              Even though I found the fade a bit tedious (well, it was too long for my tastes) it was not that bad as it had a lot of variety, less tedious battles and great chances of exploration. Every new mouse hole was a nice find. Whereas Deep Roads was just a long tunnel hike untill you get to the fleshy parts. And Ruck.

      • Destrustor says:

        Why not just skip the deep roads?
        sort of “okay guys, we’re getting to the deep roads, so we’re going to stop the episode there and come back once they’re over”
        Just like the fast-forward sequences, except off-screen.

    • zob says:

      I don’t now if later patches fixed it but game (even after first few patches) caused memory leaks on some systems and loading times gets longer and longer. You needed to restart the game to fix those.

      Deep Roads had gazillion loading screen. Game practically becomes a slide show there.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont get what is it with rpgs and mooks.Remember how finale of kotor was just a bunch of mooks jumping at you left and right,and then the boss fight?And how the finale of mass effect was just a bunch of mooks left and right,and then the boss fight?MOOKS.ARE.NOT.FUN.TO.SLAUGHTER.Puting a bajillion mooks doesnt make it more epic,it makes it more tedious.Stop it!

      • Supahewok says:

        Says you. I personally loved sending my dual-saber Jedi in alone with the best heavy armor and wiping the floor with the mooks all the way to Malak.

        But that’s just cuz I love KOTOR. I don’t like WoW-esque hotkeys for a combat system, so I minded this a lot more for Dragon Age. (Which I mostly played for the story)

        • Adam says:

          The end of KotOR II is similar. I had it down to a science by the end. Force Wave->Force Lighting->chop everyone to bits with Das Übersaber.

          • Destrustor says:

            I had drain force>force storm>life drain. Always at full health, everyone dies, and I’m always at full force points despite using all these dark side powers with a max light side jedi.
            It almost felt like cheating.

            • MatthewH says:

              So the odd thing here is, I liked the ending of KOTOR. I hated the ending of KOTOR II. I think the difference was that the real climax of KOTOR was the fight with Bastila and then Malak and all the mooks in the middle were just there to be thrown around while I explored the Star Forge (the side corridor that leads to the place that makes jedi robes was cool too). And you’ve got a party -three Jedi storming the castle makes it less anoying than one. The Treya Academy always seemed sparse and just screamed “we ran out of time so here are some mooks to fight!” And the fights with Sion and Treya didn’t seem very satisfying.

      • Amnestic says:

        I may have to disagree here. To take some rather epic scenes with “just a bunch of mooks”, I would refer you to the closing action sequences of LotR: Two Towers and Return of the King. Both have our intrepid heroes slaughtering dozens upon dozens of mook orks (along with backup) until the ending can get around to reaching them.

        And yet they’re still pretty damn epic. So why do they work but some games do not? My guess is a combination of the game’s failures (in places) to build the appropriate tension and our ‘epic’ feeling getting bogged down by game mechanics. This was most definitely the case in Dragon Age for me.

        The burst into the capital was awesome, then you get dropped onto a battlefield to slaughter mooks. Hey, I’m all for that. But there were sooooo many. They couldn’t hurt us, we one shotted them. But they didn’t all spawn at once. Chasing down the generals on the way to the keep should’ve felt like we’re surging through the city slaughtering every Darkspawn in our path. Unfortunately, it felt like we’re surging through the city slaughtering EVERY Darkspawn in our path. Even the Darkspawn butler who just wanted to invite us for tea.

        On the other hand, I personally found the ending sequence of ME1 pretty damn cool. Maybe it was just me, but sprinting up the side of the Citadel, Sovereign’s massive body in the distance as a constant reminder of the goal and threat (I think Bioware did a decent enough job of making you look ‘up’ at it), fighting through the Geth forces to reach Saren before the Reapers could invade…I felt the tension there. The first time anyway. Second time I was giggling because I had full and constant Immunity and was barely touchable.

        Point is, fighting mooks can be done in a fun way. Hell, 99% of most games is just ‘fighting mooks’. It’s just a matter of framing the story and gameplay in a certain way as to make it fun. The disconnect between the story and atmosphere of Alan Wake and the Taken combat is what hinders it, not the actual fighting in and of itself. They could’ve found a way to make it work.

        • Thomas says:

          I think the big thing about fighting mooks as a finale, is that the style should change. It should be ‘here’s 100 enemies on the screen at the same time, deal with that hero!’

          Or here’s a continuous onslaught of enemies, survive this! (note you need checkpoints here :D )

          But games, because normally of balance and tech limitations, just make you fight 10 enemies, then 10 enemies again. Etc. Which isn’t epic and isn’t a change and is a drag.

          I would loved to have fought 100 weak enemies at once at the end of KotoR2. Force waving through them, Jedi speed, slashing an enemy down in one hit :D

          • Amnestic says:

            I’m reminded of the “Battle of the 1000 Heartless” sequence in Kingdom Hearts 2. Sora has to fight 1000 Heartless (pretty sure there’s a helpful counter on screen to keep track and gauge how awesome you are) on his own in a single battle. They’re swarming all around the edges of the screen but you can only fight a few at a time. I thought that worked pretty well, though the difficulty could’ve been higher to make it feel more “last stand endurance”-y. Kingdom Hearts has never been a particularly difficult series though, so I might be expecting too much.

            As a bonus, once you finish your epic fight, you find out that it was all part of the enemy’s plan which gives the player a sense of having to fix the situation now that they’ve contributed to it.

            Also the next area is the boss area for Sephiroth, though you don’t get to fight him at that point in the story I don’t think.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yes,thats exactly it.If you were to fight all those enemies at once,that would be epic.But when they jump you 4-5 at a time,thats just busywork.They cant kill you,and once they are done with,you just regenerate to full,and on you go.

            Actually,fighting through a bunch of mooks sort of worked in older rpgs,because you had limited resources,so you have to choose whether to use just your low level spells,and save the best for later,whether to rest before the next wave,and risk being ambushed,when to heal and when to go on with half health,…But when you just regenerate to maximum between encounters,its just tedious.

            • Thomas says:

              I agree that the resource management can be cool. The problem with those though, is you don’t really want the player to die, but you want him to get as close as possible to feel tense. But if the player dies they’ve got to go through another 15 minutes of killing easy things without a particularly clear idea of what’s a success or not.

              Maybe for survival things, it needs to be mid-level enemies. Or check-pointed in a way that gives you a bare minimum to survive if you die.

              One of the big difference between FFXIII and FFX was that when you travelled along the linear paths in 10 it felt like an exciting journey trying to make it through the broken-down chaotic routes in this scarred land. And that was because it wasn’t about surving the one battle, but keeping enough health and mana to reach the next checkpoint. In 13 you automatical regenerate after every battle, so it didn’t feel like the length of the journey itself was a challenge to your skill

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                “But if the player dies they’ve got to go through another 15 minutes of killing easy things without a particularly clear idea of what’s a success or not.”

                Not if you have regular saves.Though if you have a checkpoint after every battle,you can probably lose the need for those.But still,its better when the players can keep separate saves for different places theyd want to revisit later.

              • Syal says:

                Bah, FFX was easy too with those megalixer checkpoints. The series hasn’t had a real slog endurance run since 3.

                …probably because the last slog in 3 was just plain murderous.

        • MatthewH says:

          The endings of all the ME games (where ending is defined as prior to the human reaper and prior to firing the THANX missiles) were pretty cool. I think part of it is the sense of progression – we’re moving towards a goal – and part of it is the variety of experiences. Different enemies, dealing with turrets, dealing with narrow corridors and wide open fields, buildings, et cetera. DA:O is just a slog. And worse, a slog that goes on and on.

    • CalDazar says:

      The Deep Roads had the excuse that it was supposed to be long and filled with pain in the arse Darkspawn.

    • MatthewH says:

      No. They do. Every bit of it. And then some.

      Long, monotonous, tedious, with constant backtracking, no convenient stopping places or places to shop (yes, you can go back to Orzamar, no that isn’t much fun), half of it is just busywork getting to the next plot point, and you will run through a lot of lives and health potions just in time to fight a nigh-unstoppable boss where -gee, it’d be nice to have a few dozen health poultices…

      My first time through, I had to turn the difficulty way down (I was running a charisma character) and I still had to go play a few more sections (which meant lots more sections with Oghren being basically plot useless) to level up properly. Second time through I played a mage, and while firestorm in an enclosed space does cook a lot of darkspawn, the 10th time you do it, it loses a bit of the luster.

    • Eric says:

      Funny thing is, the Deep Roads actually have some decent combat encounters. Not the high point of the game but I found it more interesting than some other parts of the game, and there was a lot of nice atmosphere that got more and more tense the deeper you went.

      I think the Spoiler Warning crew tend to be upset by games that have a lot of gameplay that isn’t story-driven, and that to me is a fairly poor attitude to have, in my opinion – some of the best RPGs are all about great combat, like Temple of Elemental Evil. Granted, Dragon Age has nothing on ToEE as far as combat goes, but I thought a lot of its fights were pretty entertaining in their own rights.

      Of course, if they started playing KotOR, no doubt they’d be praising the excellent story, dramatic characters and fantastic gameplay at every turn… when really, aside from the okay story, the gameplay in KotOR is complete and utter shit – I mean, unless you like running around identical-looking mazes and fields for hours fighting the same copy-pasted enemies that require absolutely no intelligent strategy, tactics or even character building, over and over again.

      • Shamus says:

        “and that to me is a fairly poor attitude to have, in my opinion”

        I can enjoy combat without story, if the combat is GOOD. The deep roads are extremely repetitive, and individual fights are time consuming. The enemies don’t change. The scenery doesn’t change.

        “[…]unless you like running around identical-looking mazes and fields for hours fighting the same copy-pasted enemies that require absolutely no intelligent strategy, tactics or even character building, over and over again.”

        You just said you LIKED the deep roads. That IS the deep roads. In fact, the Deep Roads have all of these problems, only moreso.

        EDIT: For the record, I think the combat in KOTOR is pretty stale as well. But it’s shorter and there’s less of it, which helps.

        • Eric says:

          Fair enough. I guess 90% of the discussion on the show is story-oriented and maybe that tends to give me the impression that you guys are willing to overlook poor gameplay if the story is good, although truth be told you do discuss gameplay stuff more in the Alan Wake series than some of the past seasons.

          Also, I recall that the Deep Roads had at least one major boss encounter per area, and some of them, like the spider queen, were pretty interesting, had unique scripting for the enemies and special tactics were necessary. To be honest, if things weren’t so drab and there was a little less filler in between, and more conversations etc. to be had I don’t think people would have complained… extended dungeon-crawling is just not something people expect from a BioWare title, I guess, but I found it very refreshing.

    • LunaticFringe says:

      I didn’t actually mind the Deep Roads, but I think that the way I played Dragon Age helped me to construct a narrative that made it make sense (probably not Bioware’s intention though). During my first playthrough I did the Deep Roads last and thus avoided a lot of combat difficulties other people had. I also saw it as a sort of test of my abilities. During the beginning you’re mostly fighting darkspawn, but for most of the main quest you’re in other places dealing with other problems.

      The Deep Road is a return to darkspawn combat after you’ve developed your character through other experiences. While originally darkspawn mobbing was a huge issue, now you can tear through them without a problem. While the beginning was you defending against a darkspawn invasion, in the Deep Roads you’re in their own backyard. I thought it was an interesting contrast, at the start you were just attempting to stop a massive horde. But now you’re the one on the offensive, smashing through what is effectively a darkspawn camp in the same way that Ostagar was a human camp. Then you get to the cutscene where you see the Archdemon and the massive army below you and realize that your actions haven’t really struck a strategic or even tactical victory. I think the fact that I did the Deep Roads last helped to contextualize it.

      That being said, a quarter or a third of it could probably have been cut away and the experience would be exactly the same.

  5. I think that plane might be a reference to Lost, but I’m not sure.
    Never mind, you already said it.

    I think the subtitled LP gave me enough of a feel for the game to understand it and come here for commentary.
    I come to Spoiler Warning for the commentary. I have no illusions that you will provide the genuine experience. I come for the analysis, jokes, and Shamus and Josh groaning at Rutskarn’s puns while Mumbles and Chris laugh.

  6. cerapa says:

    9:22
    Josh dodges axe, axe hits dude in face.

    I will be dissapointed if it doesnt get put in the credits.

  7. Lame Duck says:

    I actually learned to like the combat in Dragon Age: Origins, although it took me quite a long time and a mod. I really enjoyed the tactics system, so I got a mod that gave you a whole bunch of extra tactic slots. It was so much more satisfying to come up with intricate plans and figure out how to execute them using the commands available to you than it was to tediously micromanage each individual fight.

  8. Eleion says:

    I never got tired of Dragon Age combat. I also played the game before I heard the internet hated the Deep Roads. When I played it I remember enjoying it. I suppose it was a little long, looking back, but there were quite a few events that were really interesting, like meeting the dwarven.. legion (?) fighting darkspawn, the broodmother, and the whole main plot with the dwarf woman I can’t remember the name of.

    It might have helped that I could only play Dragon Age for a couple days every few months, so my entire playthrough was waaay spread out, which might have helped with my engagement with the combat and the game in general.

    That being said, it took me 76 hours to beat the game, so it’s a good thing that the Spoiler Warning have decided not to devote three years of their show to it.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The combat in dragon age was fun,but even the most fun of activities become boring when repeated forever without a change.Granted,you can mix your tactics from time to time to spice things up,but even that gets old fast.

    • Warrax says:

      You’re not alone. I never thought of the deep roads or the fade as being flaws in the game. I was playing without spoilers, so I was motivated to push through them because I wanted to see what was at the end, and I do remember the payoff feeling like it had justified the slough.

    • MatthewH says:

      I’m playing DAII at the moment, and thinking I would like the game better if it would either: let me plan and chain a whole bunch of actions (Hidden and Dangerous style) to really emphasize the “tactics” (I may be playing it wrong, but I don’t see much tactics involved in the game so much as varying types of min-maxing – an attack that breaks armor isn’t very useful if it can only be used once every minute), or if it would just go full-on hack and slash with combos and chains. The current system of button-mashing with timers is just not doing much for me mechanically.

    • Eric says:

      It’s because people (based on a lot of comments I’ve read, especially on this site) don’t seem to enjoy and appreciate good combat gameplay without strong story driving it forward, and I think that’s a shame. If you have a game like Dragon Age II, with some of the worst combat mechanics, systems and encounter design ever in an RPG, and then fill the entire game with combat… then yes, it’s going to suck.

      A lot of people would point to the first Dragon Age as an example of story driving the game forward, but honestly, Dragon Age has basically no story, just a lot of characters that are “witty”, “cute”, “charming” and “awesome” quipping every few minutes. I guess people can easily make the mistake of equating lots of dialogue with great storytelling, but in truth it was the game’s combat and a few puzzles that kept things fun. I would honestly have paid for a mod that gets rid of the premade characters and lets you build a full party instead, as I can happily do without all the romance bullshit.

      • Jingleman says:

        I guess we have different concepts of what constitutes “good” combat. It’s a pretty subjective thing, I guess, but there are some baselines that I thought were more or less universal. Dragon Age presents itself as a real-time, action-packed combat RPG, but it delivers a combat system based on micro-managing party tactics and disconnectedly queuing up attacks while the characters spam canned animations. I’m pretty sure that that, plus the endless, repetitive dungeons, is pretty much the definition of tedium.

        I’ll grant the weakness in the plot, which I think comes from an over-commitment to the “dark” part of “dark fantasy epic.” Still, the level of polish in the writing is orders of magnitude ahead of the combat and puzzles, which feel like unimproved holdovers from the KOTOR era.

        Besides, in a world full of copy-pasted super space marines, well developed unique characters are a breath of fresh air.

        • Eric says:

          The marketing for the game sucked because it had this conflicted “it’s the new shit!” and “this is Baldur’s Gate 3” tone all throughout. If you went in expecting an action-packed experience it’s no surprise you were disappointed. Dragon Age 2, ironically, was intended to be much more of an action game and was much worse off, mostly because it didn’t go far enough into action territory while also completely stripping out any of the tactical depth that made Dragon Age’s combat generally good.

  9. Sumanai says:

    Were you guys lampshading at one point the fact that you’re planning on making one of the episodes this season a horror episode?

    The point where Shamus goes “dark, shadow, darkshadow” I thought of the character in Penny Arcade called Grimm Shado. Maybe Dark Shado is a brother or a sister? Brothersister? Sisterbrother? Sisther? Broster?

  10. Piflik says:

    Now, I haven’t played the game (and am not terribly interested in it), but one thing I noticed about the combat is how imbalanced it is. Every Taken spawns in melee range (or closes in quite fast), but Alan doesn’t have a melee weapon. I think he would have needed some kind of defense. Not necessarily a real weapon, but at least the ability to push them away from him.

    • Amnestic says:

      Alan gets a dodge move (performed hitting the sprint button in combat, apparently) which allows you to evade an attack but it requires timing and I’m not sure if it grants you temporary immunity to damage or merely moves you out of the way of a single attack. If it’s the latter, you could end up dodging into a second Taken’s attack anyway.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Naturally, the combat’s going to be “imbalanced”. You play an everyman, a writer, bombarded by supernatural enemies in a game at least partly resembling the survival horror genre. Anything exhibiting a level of strength beyond that of your stereotypical writer would break the game. This includes both melee weapons that actually work against these supernatural enemies and the ability to push them away.

  11. el_b says:

    a few good Points could be brought up about this episode, But the one that strikes me as most important is that black goo And how it actually ties in with shamus’ comment about how Alan could have just wrote less murderers into the book.
    in one of the future night springs episodes you actually see a man being taken, this is most likely the one Alan wake wrote since the others have less to do with the story overall (apart from possibly the plot hole episode :P). A man shows up for a job and is beaten and what is basically his soul is torn out of him, leaving him to be sold as a slave. His soul is shown as the black oil. So not only is Alan basically writing in the mass abduction and enslavement of hundreds of people then gunning down their bodies, but he’s also burning away their very essence with a flashlight. Who is the villain again?

    also could you please wait till the walking dead game is finished and then do a season On that. it would be amazing, especially because you can make Lee’s character chaotic stupid as all hell.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “Who is the villain again?”

      Still the dark presence. Especially at the time of writing the ‘Night Springs’ episode, we’ve no reason to believe Alan had any way of knowing it was or could become real. Indeed, the entire game tells us in no uncertain terms that he was as shocked and confused by it all as the rest of us.

      And even in the cabin, I didn’t think it was possible to overlook the fact that Alan was being held captive and manipulated at the very least and maybe even possessed by the dark presence when he wrote the manuscript.

      Further, we don’t know just how many of the Taken were written into the story by Alan. Remember that all this has happened before in Bright Falls (in the 70s, even before Alan wrote for the show). And even assuming he wrote every in-game attack by the Taken into his manuscript, there are many points to consider:

      1. Same models. It’s probably just the devs cutting corners, but it could in fact mean that there’s only a handful of people who have been taken over by the dark presence and their bodies are being recycled every time they are “killed”. Perhaps this is the genius behind having the bodies disappear altogether.

      2. Even assuming that the model recycling is just that and each kill is a different person who’s been taken over, doesn’t the fact that they disappear at all still imply the Taken/humans are not being killed? Perhaps they are being sent away into some other dimension yet unheard of? Perhaps they are in fact being restored to their original self and location (though the process would have to be a slow one; otherwise you’d get at least one person popping up telling the story about how they were Taken or fell unconscious for a week, etc.)

      3. Lastly, Alan had to write a horror story of some kind. Seeing as how he mentioned in the beginning of the last episode that Zane tried to “cut corners” and “it didn’t end well”, maybe that’s why Alan had to write at least a few deaths into the manuscript (in response to the prodding by ‘Barbara Jagger’). Because what sort of horror story doesn’t have at least a few deaths in it?

      There’s more, but I’m out of time.

  12. Sleeping Dragon says:

    The “darkness goo” thing was a disappointment. I was expecting it to be a foreshadowing of some actual enemy, maybe even a boss in the form of some shoggothlike mass of materialized darkness. I think the problem with tedious combat is largely related to the small variety of enemies and threats. I mean, at this point we’ve seen almost everything the game is going to throw at us (not counting boss fights and stuff in DLCs) and we’re only in the second episode of the game.

  13. Marlowe says:

    The chainsaw wielding foe screams Resident Evil 4 to me.

    The game’s basic combat mechanic seems derived from Pitch Black: seek pools of light to hold enemies at bay, light flares to drive them back, shine a torch on them to weaken – very much like the creatures Vin Diesel and his pals had to fight.

    Stephen King more or less agreed with the ‘horror writer as arsehole’ characterization of the occupation in his 1982 non-fiction book on the genre, Danse Macabre.

    On the surface, The Stand pretty much conforms to those conventions we have already discussed: an Apollonian society is disrupted by a Dionysian force (in this case a deadly strain of superflu that kills almost everybody).[…] The first Dionysian incursion in The Exorcist comes when Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) hears the lion like roar in the attic. In The Stand, Dionysus announces himself with the crash of an old Chevy into the pumps of an out-of-the-way gas station in Texas. In The Exorcist, the Apollonian steady state is restored when we see a pallid Regan MacNeil being led to her mother’s Mercedes-Benz; in The Stand I believe that this moment comes when the book’s two main characters, Stu Redman and Frannie Goldsmith, look through a plate-glass window in the Boulder hospital at Frannie’s obviously normal baby. As with The Exorcist, the return of the equilibrium never felt so good.

    But below all of this, hidden by the moral conventions of the horror tale (but perhaps not all that hidden), the face of the real Werewolf can be dimly seen. Much of the compulsion I felt while writing The Stand obviously came from envisioning an entire entrenched societal process destroyed at a stroke. I felt a bit like Alexander, lifting his sword over the Gordian knot and growling ‘Fuck untying it; I’ve got a better way.’ And I felt a bit the way Johnny Rotten sounds at the beginning of that classic and electrifying Sex Pistols song, ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ He utters a long, throaty chuckle that might have come from Randall Flagg’s own throat and then intones, ‘Right … NOW!’ We hear that voice and our reaction is one of intense relief. The worst is now known; we are in the hands of an authentic madman.

    In this frame of mind, the destruction of THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT became an actual relief. No more Ronald MacDonald. No more Gong Show or Soap on TV – just soothing snow! No more terrorists! No more bullshit! Only the Gordian knot unwinding there in the dust. I am suggesting that below the writer of the moral horror tale (whose feet, like those of Henry Jekyll, are ‘always treading the upward path’) there lies another creature altogether.

    He lives, let us say, down there on Jack Finney’s third level, and he is a capering nihilist who, to extend the Jekyll-Hyde metaphor, is not content to tread over the tender bones of one screaming little girl but in this case feels it necessary to do the funky chicken over the whole world. Yes, folks, in The Stand I got a chance to scrub the whole human race, and it was fun!

  14. Mr Guy says:

    To Chris’ point on “why do we watch Spoiler warning?”

    As a long-time fan of Spoiler Warning, here’s my take. I wouldn’t expect a “lets play” to be an introduction to the game, or just a commentary on what’s going on. If I wanted that, I’d read a walkthrough on GameFaq’s (or watch one on YouTube).

    It’s not so much you’re in the room watching me, it’s I’m in the room watching Josh play with you (the logo is particularly apt in my view). I like the opportunity to take a step back and think. It’s the honest unvarnished opinion, and a refreshing counterbalance to the “ZOMG Game of the Year! 10 out of 10!” you seem to get from every gaming mag for every AAA title. It’s an assessment of what works and what could be better (this is the same reason I enjoy Zero Punctuation). Honest criticism without agenda is what will (hopefully) drive the industry forward.

    That said, I do use it a bit as an intro to games. I’d never played Alan Wake. I watched the first 2 episodes and felt I had to make a decision. a.) Buy the game and play it (so I could appreciate the rest of SW), b.) accept I wasn’t going to get the game and watch SW as a way to experience the game vicariously, or c.) skip the season until I’d made my mind up on a or b. I chose to buy the game (and finally finished it today).

    I’d say this far into the season, you shouldn’t be worried about people who are still “on the fence” about the game but are watching Spoiler Warning anyways. As Shamus (?) pointed out, it’s there in the name…

    • Jingleman says:

      Weird analogy, here, but I mean this in the most positive way: I think Spoiler Warning is like a gamer version of what housewives have been doing for years in book clubs. Play a portion, discuss. Read a chapter, discuss. Same thing. Shared experience illuminates the work with diversity of insight while fostering community and socializing. At least what passes for socializing on the internet. I think it’s a very good thing.

      While we’re talking about why people watch, I’d like to note that I am one of those who doesn’t watch a season if I haven’t played the game. That’s only happened once so far (Deus Ex:HR), but I plan to play it when I get a chance.

      Point is, from the perspective of at least some segment of the audience, it makes even more sense to avoid spoilers of past seasons than to avoid spoilers of whatever game is being played at the moment. That is, you might be able to assume that whoever is watching episodes deep into this season has made certain choices about Alan Wake, but those assumptions shouldn’t necessarily carry over to other seasons of Spoiler Warning.

      Anyway, thanks for putting in the effort to make this stuff. It’s great.

      • Fishminer says:

        I’m kind of similar in my viewing policies. I don’t watch a season unless I don’t expect to play the game or I don’t care about knowing about the story. The only season I haven’t seen is DE: HR and I spent a long time agonizing over watching ME 2 until I finally gave up and decided I’d never get a chance to play the series. Ironically enough, said season made me really interested in the games so that I have now bought the first two and played through ME 1 quite a few times. Excited against hope for playing the third game as well.

    • PurePareidolia says:

      Yeah, For the most part it’s been an amusing, in-depth look at the games I’ve played and a chance to talk to others about them. If I meant to play a game I wouldn’t watch Spoiler Warning first, I’d hopefully try playing it and seeing how I reacted before finding out how others did. In the case of Alan Wake, I don’t particularly care about it and I’ve already guessed most of the plot so far, so I’m fine with it being spoiled unless there genuinely is a massive twist ending later on, or something like ME2’s final boss that comes so out of nowhere you have to get the genuine reaction after how ever many hours.

    • Destrustor says:

      I just watch the show, regardless of having played the game or not.
      For me, it’s not about the game, but how other people react to it.
      Just the fun of getting a (sometimes)different, honest opinion, in a good-hearted environment. We don’t get enough of that on the Internet. The humor and insight, and the fact that the hosts aren’t there with an agenda, that they just like games and care about them and just want to share their fun with us. That is why I love this show.
      Also, Josh’s trolling, Rutskarn’s puns, Mumbles’ screeches and Shamus and Chris’ calm wisdom. What’s there not to like? They could be playing a slideshow of antique teacups and still make it interesting.

      So yeah, I mostly watch the show for the hosts and the atmosphere, not the games.

    • MatthewH says:

      I think I mostly agree. Spoiler Warning got me to pick up FO3 and DX:HR because, even as they were ripping at FO3, it looked like they were having a good time, and I mostly had a good time with it too. Here, I’m not terribly interested in Alan Wake (game’s not really in my bailiwick and Spoiler Warning has pretty much confirmed that I don’t have a lot of interest in the game) but I’m very interested in the discussion about the game – for which, being able to see the streaming let’s play is a good context provision.

      So, SW can do a little of everything: introduce to a new game, let me see a game I don’t intend to play, and provide interesting commentary.

  15. James says:

    Oh man, a lumberjack taken is so easy though. I think they missed a beat there.

    “i’M a lUMbeRJaCk ANd I’M oK-I SLeEp All nIgHT AnD I wORk aLl DaY!”

  16. Jingleman says:

    Okay, here’s the thing about the airplane. I don’t think it’s an overt reference other than just being a trope. I don’t remember the specifics of the endgame, so I don’t know how accurate this will be, but here is what my interpretation was upon seeing the plane. Spoilers, just in case.

    I think it calls back to the cabin. The plane is just another case of 1970, or at least what happened at Cauldron Lake, being anachronistically present in the, well, present. It’s an indication that Alan being in Bright Falls is making a lot of what happened with Thomas Zane resurface.

    So, a lot of stuff got caught up in this in 1970, either as part of the Dark Presence’s shenanigans or through whatever climax ended up banishing it back then. Now, as the Dark Presence latches onto Alan to reassert itself, some of 1970 is drawn into the present (Diver’s Isle). As the Dark Presence emerges from wherever it’s been and becomes increasingly powerful and chaotic, more of whatever was caught up in this in 1970 is thrust into the present, with less and less control as we go along.

    I take it to mean two things: first, that as it emerges, the Dark Presence grows less like the sinister, composed shadow lady and more like the unconstrained, powerful, chaotic dark tornado from the nightmare tutorial. Second, that some stuff that was though lost has been held somewhere in stasis and returned(Alan notes that the plane looks new), so it encourages Alan’s hope that Alice is alive.

    • The thing with that is that as the game goes on, it becomes increasingly unclear what parts are caused by Zane’s writings in the 70s and what parts are caused by Alan’s writing. There’s also the songs from the old rock band. There’s an ambiguity as to which came first in all cases. So it could very well be Alan writing that Zane or the rock band wrote about the plain in past, making it happen.

      • Jingleman says:

        Right, but I think that supports the theory. The chronology is unclear, but what is clear is that in the present, there is lot of stuff from the past that shouldn’t be there. Exactly what happened when, and when everything got started in the first place, are less important than the notion that as the Dark Presence emerges, stuff from all its previous attempts to take over is thrust into the here and now. Maybe the precise chronology will be explained in a sequel or something.

    • Eric says:

      The fact that the plane fell out of the sky already looking rusted and disused, with no indication it had even been flying, suggests that you’re onto something. Good catch.

  17. Exasperation says:

    “We’re going to make a videogame where the main character will be, like, this really boring person you don’t care about”

    … and he shall be named “Desmond Miles”.

    • “As Desmond proceed into the forest, through me, he was ambushed by three figures shrouded in darkness. Desmond, as me, gazed my flashlight onto the shadowy figures. Unfortunately, in this memory, I had lost my revolver after falling out off a cliff or some shit, because I did not have the presence of mind to hold onto my gun. Surrounded, Desmond, as me, just barely dodged the attacks of my assailants. I began to run. However, as a writer, I quickly became more tired than a 80 year old asthmatic. Too tired, I was overwhelmed by the foes at my back. Soon, an image appeared over Desmond’s display: ‘DESYNCHRONIZED.’ Back in his reality, Desmond though to himself, ‘Oh man, that was bullshit!!!'”

      -excerpt from Memory by Alan Wake

  18. If it weren’t for you guy’s commentary, I would not be able to stay A. Wake for this section.

    • tjtheman5 says:

      That was unBEARable.

      • Jingleman says:

        These things were only BEARly funny the first time. I FURvently hope that it’s not going to be the same ones all season. Otherwise, the CLAWS might come out. DEN everybody would be sad. So let’s just hit PAWS for a moment and step it up. Also, hibernate. Something with hibernate.

      • Even says:

        The quality is comparable to SEWAKE. (See what I did there? LOL EX DEE EXCLAMATION MARK)

        THE WAKE IS A LIE!

      • Zombie says:

        Dont steal my unbearable pun.I feel like I have been Beelittled. Can we stop these and give them a break for rest? See! See what I did there! You wouldnt beelieve how long it took to beehold that pun in my mind.

        • X2Eliah says:

          You bearly made an effort there.. Puns are serious game, you never know what’s at stwake at any moment, so you need to put your best foot forward and do the bearst you can.

          • tjtheman5 says:

            Of course, puns are serious business. I hate it when somebody makes a pun that’s without effort. How could somebody bee so inconsiderate? He only gave the bear minimum on those puns. What Haas this world come to that people would be so inconsiderate?

  19. Mr Guy says:

    A modest proposal to solve Two Problems at Once.

    The bear traps make no sense. Not their existence. Not their placement. Not their weird glow. Nothing about them.

    Meanwhile, the concept of “pools of pure darkness” is kinda cool, but the implementation is pretty useless. It doesn’t do anything. The only time it’s around is when you have plenty of time to burn it away. And it does crap-for-damage.

    Solution: Replace all the bear traps with the pools of darkness. Change the mechanic so that the pools of darkness grab and hold Alan’s foot if he makes contact with one (and maybe do a small amount of damage per second). The way Alan frees himself is to aim the flashlight at the pool until it vaporizes.

    Poof. The pools of darkness become realistic enemies/obstacles (I could easily see running around in a in combat panic and getting stuck on one), and we get rid of the stupid bear traps. We could keep the mechanism that hitting one (like a bear trap) triggers an enemy. Now Alan needs to decide whether to free himself first or try to take down the bad guys while immobalized (since the flashlight can only do one thing at a time).

    If we want to make them somewhat easier to see (blackness on the dark ground is hard, which is probably why the bear traps glow), we give them some kind of evil shimmer.

    This doesn’t seem like rocket science.

    • Jingleman says:

      At this point I’m almost embarrassed to say that I liked the bear traps, but let me attempt a defense.

      I’ll address the criticisms above: existence, placement, glow.

      Existence: Rusty mentions the traps before Alan finds any. He blames them on poachers, which seems plausible in the setting. It’s not like there’s no such thing as bear traps. They’re real objects that might be found in a forest where unscrupulous people poach.

      Placement: It’s a fair criticism that they seem a little densely placed in some places. Not that I’m an expert on hunting bear with traps. However, I like the idea that some poacher was Taken and started putting traps on the trails to try and trap more humans to Take. Also note that there are a few off-trail in the brush that could sneak up on you. I think that placing them where a fight takes place added a needed wrinkle to combat, and which I found fun. I understand that some players were frustrated, though.

      Glow: Nearly everything in the game with which Alan can interact glows, so the glowing itself doesn’t bother me. It’s a common conceit of the medium. I gather that the principle objection here is that the glow looks too much like the power-ups and collectibles that we’re supposed to be grabbing. I don’t think that’s a problem. It gives you one good “gotcha” moment, it makes you pay more attention to what you’re looking at, and it’s much better than trying to avoid the stupid things in the dark with no other indicator of danger.

      Just saying. At least one person liked the mechanic. Maybe only one person.

      • I’m just going to ask a single question. If the bear traps were completely removed from the game, then what would change?

        The problem with the traps is that they don’t add anything to the story and they are annoying to cross in gameplay. (At least they look it.)

        • Jingleman says:

          If the bear traps were completely removed from the game, you would have one less variable in a game everyone is panning for being too monotonous. You would lose one gotcha moment the first time the player learns what they are, and you would lose one tiny detail of environmental storytelling (there are poachers in these woods). Maybe that’s not enough to justify keeping the traps, but you asked what would be lost, and there it is.

          • That’s a good point. The combat sections were a bit monotonous and did need something to break them up. The bear traps were a way to do that… but I can’t help but feel that there were better ways to do it like more diverse enemies (which the game does slowly introduce in later chapters), more variations on the light/dark mechanic (such as an area where you don’t have access to a flashlight and need to use ambient light sources to remove the darkness before using guns to finish them off), etc.

            I guess I understand the bear traps, but I they aren’t ideal. But maybe I’m just being nit-picky.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        Outstanding job, Jingleman! ;)

        I find it hilarious how people complain about the supposed lack of variety but then whine about all the times the game does vary, which is quite often. Here are some examples:

        1. The bear traps, as mentioned here. Frustrating, yes, but mostly because you’re being required to play the game differently than you have been up until this point.
        2. The zone in which your only weapons are the flashlight (if that counts) and flashbang grenades. There’s no chance of getting a gun until after you’ve reaching the radio station and spoken with the DJ.
        3. The zone in which all you have is a flashlight and the Taken are showing up. Again, people complain because they obviously have been relying too much on their weapons. But to be fair, this is only half their fault. The game shouldn’t have given so much ammo in most places.
        4. Fighting the birds. In a handful of areas in the game, your guns and grenades are useless. You have to fend off rapidly approaching and unpredictable flocks of birds with your flashlight, flares, or flare gun.
        5. Bosses. Not only are you usually at least feeling trapped when they appear, but they are all notably different models with different motions.
        6. Vehicles. I’ve heard too much complaining about these things. True that they don’t operate like the vehicles in racing games. But also true that they’re not supposed to.
        7. The rock concert. Anderson farm. They say it ruins the mood, essentially… the same mood they would rather be complaining about.
        8. Advertisements. This they just b**** about to be b****ing about something.
        9. Running from the cops. Can’t shoot ’em, can’t shake ’em. Again, the story wouldn’t fit together if you could.
        10. Fighting off the Taken with the kidnapper. No gun. Gotta rely on teamwork, kidnapper’s not a very good shot (firing at things without having his own flashlight by which to see better, unlike Alan).
        11. Working your way through Bright Falls with Barry and the Sheriff.
        Breaks the mood. Again, what mood? Monotony.

        This game has plenty of variety. People just don’t wanna talk about it.

  20. scowdich says:

    Wait, is chainsaw guy the reason trees keep falling down throughout the game? He’s fast!

  21. George says:

    I would’ve played The Walking Dead… if it came out in Australia.

    Encouraging piracy much?

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Dear god is this combat boring!And that joke was a boss fight?!Seriously,just some random mook with bigger shields?That is pathetic.Actually,now Im glad that grimrock came out when it did so that I missed playing through this slog.

    • Jakale says:

      Especially considering the two mooks on Donkey Kong Hill right before had basically the same amount of tougher shielding, and there were two of them. They were more of a boss than the boss.

      Also Ruts, a Cliff Hanger reference? Really? Appropriate, I’ll grant you, but…I was just not expecting that.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      This guy gave me a bit of trouble on my first playthrough. Later on, I noticed you can climb the wall on the left side of the arena to get past him.

      The bigger shield is the main point. Luckily, they made him move slower than the others, because one hit will almost kill you!

      I didn’t think of him as a boss fight, though. Maybe a mini-boss. The birds are the boss fight for this episode, clearly.

  23. Jake Albano says:

    Josh, “foreshadowing”? Did you make a pun?

  24. Very nice audio in this ep. (everyone at same level it sounds like)

    Tip! If anyone has a Asus audiocard (many of the Xonar cards) and you have the Dolby Headphone option in the driver/settings/GUI, turn it on and try. I found the DH2 setting very nice with the audio of this stream.

  25. harborpirate says:

    I was really glad to have the commentary for this one; it would have been terribly boring otherwise.
    Like some others, I noticed when the taken got doinked with an axe thrown by another taken. That brought a smile to my face.

    One thing that bothers me: are these maps really as linear as they seem? Because watching them feels like something from 15 years ago, like a really pretty version of an N64 game.

    • Amnestic says:

      From what I remember, yeah, it’s pretty damn linear and between limited ammo and extra Taken spawns, the game seems to actively discourage any exploration (while simultaneously encouraging it with manuscript pages).

      On the other hand, your comment reminded me of one thing: I don’t think there’s ever a sewer level in Alan Wake, so that’s something at least.

    • Jingleman says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty linear. It’s funny, linearity has become something of a negative thing these days. As much as I like open worlds, especially in RPG’s, I wish there were more good linear games out there. More precisely, I’m tired of games that waste time trying to be open when they should be linear. Linearity makes for easier storytelling. Certain genres, like pure shooters and survival horror, lend themselves to linearity. I’m not saying that Alan Wake does it right, but props to Remedy for abandoning the open world idea and trying to craft a directed experience.

      I agree that the tension between collectibles and enemy spawns didn’t work.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Yeah, that’s kinda true. A linear game doesn’t inherently mean a bad game – heck, Half-Life 2 was linear as all hell, and yet it was pretty damn great.

        • harborpirate says:

          I actually agree. There’s nothing at all wrong with linear storytelling or even linear level design.

          The thing that struck me was that this LP gives it the feeling of the “20 meter corridor” from the old days. Something about the level design makes the “invisible walls” seem really conspicuous.

      • Mr Guy says:

        Agree that linearity isn’t a bad thing per se.

        To pick up on a point Shamus made during the HL2 episodes, linearity works best when there’s an illusion of choice – the “next thing” you’re going to be forced to do makes sense in context. If they’d given you a choice, it would be what YOU chose to do next. It’s directed, but it doesn’t feel forced.

        Linearity is goal-oriented storytelling. The character always has a goal for “what’s next.” You don’t get to choose the goal – it’s chosen for you. This works when the goals are ones you’d agree with or say “yeah, that follows naturally.”

        Obviously, you can’t always get there (since everyone’s choices in a given situation would be different), but they feel “right.”

        Actually, in my view Alan Wake does this pretty well most times. The kidnapper told him to come alone at night, so he’s going to do that. He needs to stay free to find the kidnapper, so he’s going to run from the cops.

        There were only 2 times this really fell down for me. First was the awful “let’s go to Rose’s and drink tea even though she sounds like she’s possesed and the only reason to go there is a flimsy pretext that would seem WAY more important to me than tea.” Second was “hey, we just defeated the taken and found a song lyric that tells us where to go next, even though the brothers could have easily TOLD us those 4 words rather than making us battle through waves of baddies to get to their farm. Let’s get drunk!”

  26. Johan says:

    The manuscript page at the 4:30ish mark:
    That one actually looks pretty cool. “Then I heard the chainsaw,” there’s not a lot of ways you can get that wrong, and if you’re a veteran gamer/have-watched-any-movie-ever you’re going to be tensed up “oh man, CHAINSAW time soon”

  27. Jingleman says:

    The “why doesn’t Alan write himself an easier fight” questions keep popping up. The problem with them is that they make some assumptions about stuff that is still uncertain.

    Please let me suggest three issues that keep coming up on the show that I think are founded on assumptions that might need to be revisited.

    First, it is unclear how much of Alan’s “adventure” is reflected in the manuscript. We don’t get a manuscript page for every mook, and the story seems to be about a Dark Presence trying to use Alan to insert itself into the real world, presumably eventually breaking free even of the manuscript itself. It’s not implausible that for much of the stuff going on, the manuscript is only remotely involved as a catalyst.

    Second, it is unclear how much control Alan has over the manuscript. This will be explored later in the story, but even up to now Alan has implied on the TV’s that his freedom to change anything is very limited. In fact, this is brings up a really interesting philosophical discussion about the nature of free will that philosophers and theologians have been kicking around for the last 2,500 years or so. Kinda cool.

    Third, and this goes to the idea of Alan’s ridiculous body count: it is unclear that EVERY Taken is literally one individual (former) person. Another interpretation would be that the darkness generates copies of the (relatively few) Taken. This is implied when (a) a Taken and evaporates due to a flash of light, (b) Alan is only concerned with keeping Stucky’s death secret, not every mook, (c) many mooks appear identical to one another, (d) there’s an unreasonable abundance of axes, and (e) all NPC’s, especially the Sheriff, fail to mention any massive missing persons problem. On the other hand, the yellow graffiti says “The Darkness controls the Taken” or something like that, which might imply that they are each former individuals.

    These suggestions might seem like a stretch to many players, but I find them plausible, unlike the imminently mock-able plot holes in ME2 or Fallout 3. I’m not trying to be snarky or anything, it’s just that these things don’t necessarily seem problematic to me, plot-wise. At least not as obviously problematic as the cast seems to find them.

    • Shamus says:

      I actually agree with all of that. (Keeping in mind I still haven’t beaten the game.) Particularly your bullet points about how these few taken are probably the same foes repeated again and again. (Not just in the game, but in the story and the meta- story.)

      I think what this game needs is a really good dose of lampshading. I don’t think the audience even needs reasonable answers to these questions. It’s okay to have stuff seem kind of trippy. We just need to know Alan is asking the same questions.

      One of my favorite “oh wow” moments from Silent Hill 2 was when James asks someone about all the monsters infesting the town, and the other person is like, “What monsters?” If this game had a couple of moments like that, it would probably put to rest the concerns over body count.

      And even with my many quibbles with Alan Wake, almost all of them are problems with HOW the story is told. This is really different from ME2 and FO3, where the story was obviously sloppy action schlock from the get-go. Even when Alan Wake fails, it’s doing so while aiming high. FO3 aimed low, and still missed the mark story-wise.

      • I also noticed that you guys are much less negative overall than you were in many of the prior seasons.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Yep.. And when they are being negative, they are conscious of it and think along on how to mitigate it. Good job so far, I’d say.

          • Mr Guy says:

            So much so that Mumbles got fed up and quit. :(

            Come back, Mumbles! We miss you!

          • Jingleman says:

            Indeed, it’s another great season so far. Sorry, it wasn’t meant to be a criticism of cast or the tone of the show (I’m all for negativity), just some alternative suggestions to bring up some discussion and find out why I seem to be way off from the prevailing opinion. Anyway, keep up the good work!

      • Even says:

        Given how in the DLC the Taken exist even inside the Dark Presence’s own reality, while remaining the same in terms of behaviour, it rings even more true. I like to think of them just manifestations of the Presence rather than real people. People who it kills/absorbs/whatever become a part of it permanently and the Taken are just twisted and crude imitations of the people they represent.

    • I’m going to add to your point. In the TVs, Alan says that the reason he makes so many near-death experiences for himself is due to the nature of horror stories. “In a horror story, no one’s safety can be absolutely certain, not even that of the protagonist.” The magic of Cauldron Lake can only work if the story follows it’s own internal logic. Thus, Alan intentionally writes near-death experiences for himself when he writes himself into the story. I actually found that very interesting and very cleaver.

      • Jarenth says:

        I liked that too, it’s a nice bit of lampshading. It made me wonder, though: how exactly does one define ‘internal logic’? It’s clearly not up to the Dark Presence, or Alan. If the nature of a horror story precludes an easy save for Alan, why not re-write the story as a comedy?

        • Presumably, it was becoming a horror well before Alan grew self-aware enough to change it. It that framework, it would be much easier to turn a horror story into a thriller than it would be to turn it into a comedy. Besides, dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

      • Eric says:

        Not to mention there’s a lot of that “story taking on a life of its own” stuff as well as the role of the Dark Presence as editor. I guess being able to die kind of defeats the logic of writing *near* death experiences, though.

  28. Raygereio says:

    Wait, why was the plane a bad thing? Isn’t it okay to have a little setpiece at times that serves no real function other then being neat to look at / be atmospheric?

    Also I disagree with the comment made that LP’s are bad at just showing off a game. They can. It’s just that Spoiler Warning’s particular style of LPing is bad at this. It’s simply not what you guys do.

    • Mr Guy says:

      Wait, why was the plane a bad thing? Isn’t it okay to have a little setpiece at times that serves no real function other then being neat to look at / be atmospheric?

      A set piece can be useful if it’s somehow related to what’s going on. If it reinforces something that’s happening, or being a “show don’t tell” that allows us skip some dialog for mood setting. It needs to show us something about the world that we didn’t know, or give us a new perspective on the world.

      The plane fails for me because it’s not related to what’s going on. It feels forced. “Well, the tone is creepy and an abandoned crashed plane is creepy, so let’s throw one in there.” What is it reinforcing in the story? “There are creepy things in the world, and here are two of them”? Sure, it’s the same tone, so it’s not jarring. But how does it reinforce the tone? Add subtlty or color?

      Here’s how this could have worked better (in my view). If Alan were traversing an area and saying things like “I was probably the first person to pass this way in decades,” then the plan is visual proof of that. A crashed plane that no one investigated or removed enhances the isolation of a locale. Except this doesn’t make sense in the story – Alan’s on a trail in a national park. This isn’t the uncharted wilderness.

      Or, maybe you want to show how powerful the darkness is – that it can bring down a plane (which may be the point of those patches of darkness on it). Why an old plane? Why not a recent one? Maybe even one where Alan hears the crash. Then on the plane you can have a voice recorder you can play “The storm isn’t like anything I’ve ever seen…it’s like it’s following me…oh, god, I’ve lost the engine! Mayday! May..static.” Wow, this darkness is powerful stuff! Bonus creepiness for someone to attack you in a flightsuit…

      A good atmospheric set piece to me is like adding a new note in a musical chord. It’s related, but slightly different. It adds depth and interest. It makes what you already have richer and more appealing.

      Things that work for me are things like Jensen’s apartment in DE2 with all the clocks. They’re in keeping with “Adam is a hard working dude,” but they add to it. You can almost see him using ever more complex ones to push himself and his control of his new limbs, trying to master his new dexterity. You see a slightly new side of his character. Or in Fallout 3 where you encounter Anndale. We get it – the world has gone creepy. But here’s a slice of apparent normality, where if you peel it back they’re actually inbred cannibals.

      • Raygereio says:

        Well, I guess we just have to disagree on what does and doesn’t work.
        For example, I heard a record scratch in my head when I walked into Anndale. It felt completely out of place to me in the Capitol Wasteland.
        And as for your example on how it could be improved. That sounds way to heavy handed to me. Subtlety is king when it comes to creating an atmosphere (too bad the devs of Alan Wake didn’t seem to know that).

        Not every little thing in the setting needs to be connected to the plot. As it is, the plane seemed okay as a setpiece.

        Besides: Rutskarn main source of ire seemed to be not the existance of the plane, but the fact that there wasn’t any phat loots to justify him having wasted half an hour looking for said loots. o_O

        • Thomas says:

          Let me tell you a story, when I was younger I had a really bad cough (I always have a really bad cough) and anyway I was out walking a dog with a friend and we went round this little meadow by the river, when these two guys suddenly came up from behind the river and started getting in our face as it’s acceptable to do and they started slagging us off to assert their dominance and we tried to be non-provocative. Then my body decided to cough in a way that sounded a lot like laughter and they punched me.

          ….

          The point is we normally expect things to have point and tell us stories for a reason. A plane is a pretty big thing, to place out of it’s environment, for no reason and not even any gamepaly value. It clashes with the part of our brains that tell us things make sense. Horror can get away with non-sequitors more than other things, but it was a large thing to have for no reason and Alan Wake at least this far hasn’t gone down the root of having things not make sense, so it’s bothersome for some people. Why is there a plane there? How does it tie in? Who was in the plane? When did it crash? Why is it still here? We like to have answers to questions (darn Goedel, ruining maths:( ) :D

  29. Eljacko says:

    I can’t believe Rutskarn referenced “Between the Lions”. That was cosmic.

  30. X2Eliah says:

    Oh, yeah.. about LP’s showcasing things – I actually went through Amnesia via an LP (I’m too much of a wuss to play it myself, tbh) – just a single commentator/player, not trying to be smart-assy or so, just regular natural commenting.

    That style of play can lend itself well to showcasing a game, but obviously, a group LP, with smart commentary on gameplay/story mechanics and such, which is what SW basically is, is admittedly not a game showcase platform.

  31. ps238principal says:

    Apropos of all the Stephen King references and the way they’re handled, I just found a trailer for a low-budget horror/comedy called Alan Wake’s Teen Scare Squad “You Can’t Kill Stephen King.”

    It seemed relevant. :)

    Edit: That’s not a spoiler; I really wanted to strike out a joke title. Ah, well…

  32. Alan says:

    Two points:

    1) About the airplane – I think that this is something which games don’t do enough of – optional content. I probably won’t play this game, but looking at the plane, I can say I would probably spend quite a lot of time messing about with it.

    Does it add anything to the plot? Not much, and could more easily have just been had as part of the backdrop, rather than an actional item. But being able to mess about on it means that you can have something else to play with which breaks the flow.

    2) About the commentary – Be as spoilery as you like. The people who are watching this lets play either aren’t going to play it, or aren’t bothered by spoilers.

  33. some random dood says:

    Anyone know if this game has difficulty choices (specifically easy or casual)? Looks like it could be interesting to go through if it wasn’t for the combat. (Back to that discussion on Hepler Mode again – looks like this would be an ideal game for it!)

    • Raygereio says:

      Back to that discussion on Hepler Mode again – looks like this would be an ideal game for it
      No. That is and always will be a stupid concept. Especially in the context of “fixing a problem” as it doesn’t fix anything.

      For starters far less enemies would be a better idea.

      • Fewer, but slightly more powerful enemies.

        But I agree that Helper Mode is a band-aid at best. This is why we have adjustable difficulty.

      • some random dood says:

        @Raygerio Think you are missing at least part of the idea of Hepler mode – not just easier, but skippable, or at least less and easier encounters.
        When the combat is so broken as not to be enjoyable (and arguably not the main part of the game anyway) then a way around it, or to make it trivial, is worthwhile.
        Really do not know what the devs were trying to target with the combat. As others have mentioned (including [ex]Gamer below/above/wherever depending on where this shows up in the thread) it would likely have been better to have tougher monsters, but a LOT less of them! Would also need a way to escape without needing to fight (dodging to a safe-point, stealth, or some other mechanism that can generate tension). Then you could add difficulty scaling on top of that to allow people with different skill levels to be able to find an enjoyable ground to play on. As it is, just having a way to blow-past or avoid the combat entirely would be preferable.

        And I am guessing that this means Alan Wake does not provide easier difficulty levels to make combat less frustrating?

        • Raygereio says:

          Think you are missing at least part of the idea of Hepler mode – not just easier, but skippable, or at least less and easier encounters.
          No, I know exactly what the idea is. I just completely disagree with it. My engineering mind does not like treating symptoms, I prefer comming up with sollutions to problems.

          If a game’s gameplay is broken to the point where you want to skip it: the sollution should not be to implement a skip-bad-gameplay-feature. The proper sollution should be to fix the bad gameplay so that you wont have the desire to skip it anymore (for example via some of your suggestions actually).

          • some random dood says:

            @Raygereio “My engineering mind does not like treating symptoms, I prefer comming up with sollutions to problems”
            I agree – resolve the root cause, and a lot of other issues go away, or at least become easier to manage!
            Going back to the Spoiler Warning team’s discussions on this game: it doesn’t seem to have properly found its footing. Is it a survival horror? Is it a shooter? Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a shlock-horror? If Remedy had found its “voice” then a lot of other things would likely fall into place more naturally.
            I suppose then in this case the root cause is that the game tries to place its feet in too many camps, and has become a 7-legged beast that can’t decide if it is a mammal with too many limbs flailing about the place, or a millipede with a serious lack of legs. Or maybe it’s time for me to shut up and go to bed. That was just plain silly, but I hope that you can at least guess at what I mean!

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            But you assume that gameplay can be either broken or the best thing ever,and thats not true.For example,you play a game with fun and difficult combat,but you want to go to see how the story unfolds,yet you dont have time for combat at the moment.So you skip the combat,see the game to the end,then later when you have more time go back and finish it the regular way.Then there can be different enemies,some of which you like fighting,some of which you hate,so you just choose which ones to skip.Thats why cheats are such a great thing to have in a game.

      • Shamus says:

        In my mind, Hepler mode is there to be triggered on purpose. It’s not “play through the game with no combat”, but, “okay, I’ve stopped having fun in this section, fast forward me to the next section”.

        You’re arguing that giving the player a choice is a stupid thing, and then you suggest that the game would benefit from “less”. How much less? What about the people who liked the enemies as they are? What about the person who thinks ONE fight is plenty in an episode? You’re basically arguing that they should still have one-size-fits-all combat, but they should change it to YOUR size. :)

        • This is why I advocate adjustable difficulty in games as opposed to one static difficulty you pick at the beginning. This one section too hard or too easy? No problem, just bump the difficult up or down for a spell and them bump it back when you’re finished.

          I’m still of the opinion that if a level is so bad that somebody wants to skip it, there’s a problem. But I do love when games give me customization of my experience when they can.

          • Atarlost says:

            Every level is so bad someone will want to skip it. If the game contains varied encounters and/or mechanics, every encounter will be so bad that someone who nonetheless likes the majority of the game will want to skip it.

        • Ringwraith says:

          There have been variations of this in games I’ve played before. The first two Brothers in Arms games will ask you if you want to heal you and your squads if you die several times at the same checkpoint. When this is a game where there’s normally no mid-mission healing, it’s a significant advantage to get a mid-mission refresh.
          It never forces you to take it however, and it’ll always be there if you need it.

          • Jingleman says:

            LA Noire had kind of a Hepler feature, too. If you died more than a couple of times, it would ask if you wanted to skip the “action sequence.” It makes more sense to me to have a Hepler mode in a game that is ostensibly in a genre with little emphasis on combat. That way, a consumer isn’t unexpectedly railroaded into playing a different type of game than he thought he was buying (apparently like Deus Ex: HR does with the bosses).

            Take Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for example. It was a sequel to a really good point-and-click adventure, but it added some light combat sequences to broaden the appeal of the title. The combat might have seemed out of place for players whose expectations ran along the lines of the adventure genre, which was still the focus of the title. A Hepler mode might have compensated for the holdover adventure fans.

            LA Noire, too, focused on the investigatory gameplay, so giving the player an option to skip supplementary stuff is reasonable. The problem comes when it makes the player feel like the developer is suggesting that the action stuff isn’t actually very fun.

            • Thomas says:

              Didn’t Alone in the Dark have a ‘skip parts you’ve decided you don’t want to play’ feature? And unfortunately because the game sucked all the comments were ‘well you can tell a games going to be bad when the dev’s include being able to not play the game as a feature’

        • Dasick says:

          No matter what you decide to stick with, you’ll be pissing people off. The best thing you can do as a developer is just pick an audience that you identify with so that you can tell if it’s a hit or a miss.

          When critiquing a game, I think we need to consider what the developers wanted to do, whether we agree with that decision or not. And like others have mentioned, Alan Wake has serious identity issues.

          If it wants to be a horror game, it needs to reduce the amount of enemies and make them take their sweet time. If it wants to be campy, tongue in cheek homage, it needs to increase the amount of scary mooks and exaggerate them, make them look like iconic horror villains. If it wants to be a pretentious shooter, it need to play around with it’s mechanics a bit more.

    • Jingleman says:

      I have the Xbox 360 version, and it has three difficulty levels: Normal, Hard, and Nightmare. The first Spoiler Warning video shows that the PC version has different options: Easy, Normal, Nightmare. Josh picked Normal for the Spoiler Warning play-through, unless something has changed since then. Nightmare difficulty only unlocks after you beat the game once.

      • some random dood says:

        Thanks Jingleman! Wonder if “Easy” mode would allow more of a story play-through without needing to worry about the combat? Hmm, think I might give it a go if it comes up on sale.

        • Shamus says:

          I tried easy mode, and I seriously can’t tell the difference between that and “normal”. I think mooks take 2 shots instead of 3? Maybe your health might regenerates a little faster between fights? Looks like the same number of mooks to me. Same attacks. Same ammo supply. Same spacing of safe havens.

          Whatever the difference is, it’s subtle.

          • some random dood says:

            Ah thanks. That definitely makes this a skip for me. In which case, thanks to the team risking their sanity to allow me to see this without having to suffer the shootiness of it all.

          • Amnestic says:

            Difference between difficulties is number of shots it takes to kill a Taken and time it takes to burn their shield down. It’s about one bullet and a few seconds ‘burning time’ difference. Extremely minor.

  34. Alex says:

    Re: Dragon Age:

    I missed out on several squad members because the game didn’t mention that you couldn’t go back to that first town… And it didn’t tell me when it would “fall”… And no other major town falls, so it’s not something I could have ever been expected to expect anyway.

    The loading screens tell me about Dwarven history, but not something I might actually need to know. Thanks BioWare. No really, hold your game hostage like that. In fact, do it again in the second one OH HEY LOOK THEY DID

    And it’s not even the Deep Roads part that makes me never want to replay it. That Fade part that goes on for eight centuries in the Mage Tower is what killed it for me.

    It’s also what killed Sten and what’s-her-face. Which is why most of the game was me, an old lady, a dog and a rock monster.

    • Eric says:

      What? Choices and consequences? In a role-playing game? How dare they!

      I’m honestly surprised BioWare had the “balls” to make a *gasp* skippable/missable party member (and a love interest to boot) in their high-profile mainstream cash cow Lord of the Rings knock-off.

      • Jingleman says:

        Sure, it’s cool that there are real consequences for your actions in Dragon Age. But it’s not “choice and consequence.” It’s major chunks of content disguised as easy-to-miss, run of the mill side quests. It’s not like the game gives you warning that by the time you leave the first town you’ll have had your only chance to recruit three different party members. You don’t make a choice, you just hope that you’ve explored thoroughly.

        In fact, the result is that players who realize this feel LESS inclined to make choices about what their character would do, as the game needlessly punishes players for not taking every minor-looking side quest early in the game.

        A quick look around the relevant web forums will show a staggering number of players, many of them RPG veterans, who just happened to miss their chance to get an early party member. Do they sit back and think, “How cool! This game has lasting consequences for missing chance encounters, just like it would in real life!” No! They get pissed off and reload a save. Bad design.

        • lurkey says:

          Neither of them are easy to miss if you like to talk to everyone in the town as a seasoned RPGamer should. And if you just want to make a beeline to the endgame paved with gibs and corpses and moar fighting!, it doesn’t seem like you care about something like a companion anyway – present company should be enough for killin doods.

  35. Alex says:

    If I want to give Remedy WAY too much credit, I could assume that the reason the story is so weird and the forest segments so out-of-place would be because maybe Alan Wake has to keep writing this stuff or else his wife will die. No breaks, no waiting for inspiration to strike, no chances to re-write or think of something better. Just whatever is off the top of his head, just to get it done.

    And when you get writer’s block, they say the best thing to do is just write down whatever stupid crap is in there and just get it over with.

    “And then…. oh no. Crap! Uh… UH…. WAIT, uh, forest! Lots of Taken! DARK! SHADOWS AND STUFF!”

  36. Vic 2.0 says:

    First off, I must say that whether it was meant to be mockery of Alan Wake or just plain silly, I found Jarenth’s post here hilarious. And no, Idk why either, hehe.

    Alex:
    “If I want to give Remedy WAY too much credit, I could assume that the reason the story is so weird and the forest segments so out-of-place would be because maybe Alan Wake has to keep writing this stuff or else his wife will die. No breaks, no waiting for inspiration to strike, no chances to re-write or think of something better. Just whatever is off the top of his head, just to get it done.”

    The reason the story is so “weird” is that it’s meant to be. It’s a psychological thriller for crying out loud!

    And I’m not sure what you mean by “the forest segments (are) out-of-place”, but I thought everything flowed for the most part. So if the premise that there was something wrong with the story or general progression of the game were true, I’d congratulate you on a very insightful explanation of it… But since I see no specific explanation on your part on just what you mean in this criticism, I’ll have to say “no explanation needed… until we can determine if something is truly wrong” ;)

  37. Vic 2.0 says:

    SPOILERS AHEAD!

    1:50 – A chore? I contend that the only reason you’re saying it isn’t fun is that you’re dying. Therefore the game is “Stupid!” “Sucky game!” “Who made this dumb game that doesn’t even do what I tell it!?” A common quirk in every gamer; I can’t judge you for that. But to post it online as part of a serious review? C’mon guys!

    2:20 – “None of this has anything to do with moving the plot forward.”

    Most games are like that. The dozens or hundreds of enemies you kill are altogether insignificant to the plot. This game is really no different along those lines. You have a protagonist trying to get somewhere and an antagonist “sending enemies” to try and stop you. Forgive me, but this is a non-issue.

    But I will say, it wouldn’t be “five hours” or “twelve hours” of combat if you didn’t die so often :P :P

    6:30 – The point of the airplane was to make you question how a plane that obviously hadn’t flown in decades could’ve fallen from the sky. That was even in the corresponding narrative each of you seemed to miss. One who was playing the game and thinking about it might tie this concept in with the cabin that mysteriously emerged from the depths of Cauldron Lake only to sink back under again. Try and keep in mind that this game is about the story.

    7:00 – What’s not spooky about it? Plane from the 70s falls from the sky with no warning or plausible explanation. I’ll grant you it’s not scary or anything compared to everything else in the game, but it’s definitely not normal to have unmanned planes falling around you through a time warp!

    But to address the conversation you have about it later, I thought it was obvious that you were supposed to learn about the liquid darkness from the plane. Not how to get rid of it, but that it’s a sign the dark presence had been there. You see it on other such items throughout the game to confirm this.

    16:20 – With just a bit of reasoning, one might conclude that the dark presence made Alan write the bit about people dying and being possessed by it into the manuscript. “Heavily revised”, remember? It makes sense from that angle because obviously the dark presence would want to be possessing people, and also from the angle, “Hey, you can’t have a horror movie in which no one dies… You just can’t.”

    However, it’s possible that no one’s really died (except maybe Walter). Because it doesn’t show anyone really dying. Even when you “kill” a Taken, their model comes back into the gameplay. This is, again, suggested by the Taken disappearing rather than falling over dead. Perhaps, the bodies are being borrowed and the souls are some other place entirely. One can only hope. And it’s even possible that this aspect of the “hundreds of killings” (it possibly being more like a handful of kidnappings) was Wake’s doing behind “Barbara Jagger”‘s back, hmmmmm…

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Oh, and about Cynthia Weaver going from place to place in the woods leaving these hidden messages. Yes, I even believe that. She’s trying to inform people wherever they may turn up. It’s not even that hard to explain the vague message written down (Why you thought it should’ve been more cryptic is beyond me, but it shows your own forgetfulness of the point) on an isolated object. These objects may have been together at one point. Presumably, she’s been doing this since the 70s. Another object being adjacent to it that read “Barbara Jagger is not alive” would’ve made it all click.

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