Alan Wake EP14: Stabbed in the Brain

By Shamus Posted Wednesday May 16, 2012

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 95 comments

Link (YouTube)

The headache stabbed me in the brain. And then I wrote a novel. Sounds about right.

Let’s see: Goofy puzzles. Occasionally awkward dialog. A wall between story and gameplay. A seemingly boring jerk for a protagonist. Repetitive foes. Terrible lip sync. Checkpoint saves.

We’ve accused Alan Wake of all of these, and I don’t think we’re wrong. But I think all of those problems are even worse in Silent Hill 2, which I still regard as one of the more powerful games I’ve experienced. I’m still gnawing on this, and I can’t speak for the rest of the cast, but I suspect that if the game had connected with me on an emotional level (dread, sorrow, anger, whatever) then I wouldn’t be focusing on these problems.


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95 thoughts on “Alan Wake EP14: Stabbed in the Brain

  1. Packie says:

    Shamus, if you thought the puzzles in Silent Hill 2 were contrived, stupid and out-of-place then for the love of Odin don’t play Silent Hill Downpour. Talk about idiotic, pace killing puzzles that has absolutely nothing to do with the game world and story.

  2. Littlefinger says:

    thanks for spoiling batman games for me, mumbles. Now I don’t have to play them anymore.

    1. BenD says:

      I am not bitter about it on account of my terrible memory ““ I won’t get to Arkham Asylum for at least six months, I estimate, based on my current gameplay backlog ““ but I did kind of think, ‘gee, I am learning a LOT about a game that is not part of Spoiler Warning.’ Maybe they should Spoiler Warning something Batmanny next.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Every game is Batmanny as long as Mumbles is on the team.

        1. James says:

          not alot of people know this so keep it a secret, Bruce Wayne is actually mumbles in disguise

          1. She is the most manly cast member.

    2. X2Eliah says:

      Spoilers in spoiler warning? OH THE INHUMANITY. Won’t someone please think of the chlldren?!

      1. No. Because then I remember Little Lamplight.

        1. Bryan says:

          Of course, that nuke *was* one of the funnier parts of that season…

          1. “No children were harmed in our attempts to murder children.”

  3. BenD says:

    You know, at this point Josh’s outro is a better teaser for the game than their actual trailers were.

  4. Amnestic says:

    “People wanted me to talk about Scarecrow in Batman.”

    ;-; I resent being called ‘People’. Glad it finally got brought up though, and I couldn’t agree more with what was said. It was an awesome sequence. People should go back and play Metal Gear Solid 1 on the PS1 just for Psycho Mantis too. “So, I see you like to play Castlevania!” Was genuinely creepy the first time that happened to me. Though it might have helped that I was a wee lad at the time.

    “How much better would this be if Alan was voiced by [Guy who did Adam Jensen]?”

    I never asked for this

    Obvious joke man, AWAY!

    You know what the platform puzzle reminds me of? The Umbrella Corporation. It reminds me of something they would have in one of their secret underground labs (probably located underneath a kitten orphanage) because rather than having two little causeways, they thought “Hey, let’s make this thing MOVE!”

    All it’s missing is you requiring the Eagle and the Lion medallions to unlock it, along with four chess-piece themed keys.

    “Why aren’t there any female Taken?”

    Because then there’d be all this symbolism about how the female Taken are representations of his faltering relationship with Alice and how he resents her for pushing him towards writing. Him fighting them is both representative of him having to confront these issues but also the fact that they arguably overpower him and he’s afraid of confrontation, preferring to sit in the Light and never have to grow up and deal with relationships like an adult. At heart, he’s still stuck as that little boy dreaming of being the next best author despite the constant disappointment knowing that honestly, he writes schlock and got famous off schlock and will be remembered for schlock.

    You know, the sort of thing the monsters in Silent Hill 2 had going for them. That’d suck!


    1. Lovecrafter says:

      Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube had similar tricks in its repertoire. If your sanity meter was low enough, you could experience things like your savegame “deleting” instead of saving, inventory items gone missing, the game suddenly cutting away to a “to be continued” screen like a demo, your television screen supposedly blacking out while you hear monsters killing your character, etc…

      Some of the more potent scares in videogames come from being violently yanked out of our “I’m safe in my comfy chair, it’s just a game” line of thinking.

      1. Keredis says:

        I’m glad that Josh managed to reference “Fission Mailed”…

      2. Tzeneth says:

        My favorite was having your character explode after casting a HEALING spell and going…wtf? Oh crud, when did I last save?

      3. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I wonder if I should link the most dangerous game here.Here,play it if you feel destructive enough.

    2. Atarlost says:

      To me this looks like Dwarf Fortress sally port. Something impossible to pathfind that can only be traversed by military squads because you can manually order them to stand in the right places. Having the levers in the path means it might be possible to get single outdoors dwarves through with lever orders so they have some chance in a siege.

      This is actually a fairly functional design. Just not in this world.

  5. Frankenstein says:

    You guys mention not wanting to make people feel like a bad person for playing but I don’t really feel like its a bad thing to make people feel like they are terrible people. Far Cry 2 makes you play as one(you are almost single handedly destablizing an entire African country) but I loved the fact that Far Cry 2 actually made me feel something. When I was assassinating a guy, who was trying to bring peace back to the nation, for blood diamonds a felt really bad but it was a unique and interesting experience because of this so I kept playing.

    1. Methermeneus says:

      It has a lot to do with what kind of character you’re playing, though. In Far Cry 2, you’re basically playing a smaller-time, on-the-ground version of Nicholas Cage from Lord of War. Here, you’re playing a writer, someone who is, at least nominally, just a normal guy. If the game doesn’t make you feel bad about killing people, on some level it’s saying that Alan doesn’t feel bad about killing people, and that just makes him seem like a sociopath. It’s okay for an arms dealer to be a sociopath, but it’s weirder when a writer on vacation with his loving wife and his comedy-sidekick agent is a sociopath.

      1. Michael says:

        Most of the playable characters were mercenaries of one flavor or another, not arms dealers.

        Still, the entire point of Far Cry 2 was (allegedly) nipping at the heals of morality in games like Alan Wake. Where you’re the designated hero, so it’s okay if you mow down people left and right, because you’re the good guy, it’s okay, no matter how messed up the things you do are.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Oh sure, I just don’t think Alan Wake is a game about that. It makes a point to kill the “they may still be human” angle before it really comes up.

      In fact I’d say they went too far in dehumanizing their mooks, maybe it’s the constant repetition but they don’t feel like possessed humans, more like projections or reflections, which contributes to them being boring.

    3. The Hokey Pokey says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. This is what made Shadow of the Colossus so compelling. The ever increasing dread as you slowly realize that you are doing something horrible works against your desire to progress to drive home the main ideas. Some of the Silent Hill series’ most iconic moments played off the idea of forcing the player to do terrible things. For example, the fight with Cybil, the fight with Eddie, the confessional, and “they look like monsters to you?”

  6. TMTVL says:

    Mumbles brings up the idea of the darkness bringing out the bad side of people. So… “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – the Shooter”?

    1. Packie says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking, mostly Persona 4. It does the exact thing mumbles said about the darkness bringing out a person’s most inner corrupt evil ego. Heck, they even base entire levels based on characters’ psyche.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Technically speaking Persona 4 deals in Jungian shadows, which basically deal with *anything* that is repressed by the conscious mind — boiling it down to ‘this is the evil parts of yourself’ is a bit of an oversimplification. Actively expressing your shadow, by definition, means you are in the process of dispelling it. By contrast, a supernatural force that intentionally amplified and played forth the ‘bad’ aspects of your mind would just make you more evil.

        That said, “I am a shadow — the *true* self” was basically what sprung to my mind immediately too.

  7. Methermeneus says:

    No, Josh, how could you? I’m not sure coffee can forgive you for this betrayal. Then again, this does take place in the Pacific North West, home of that abominable boil on the face of coffee, Starbucks, so maybe you just need a nice cup of Quick Check or Wawa to bring you home. (Or the Nevada equivalent thereof, since those are both NJ stores.)

    1. Mr Guy says:

      The darkness made him say it.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You guys should at least watch lets play of the dlcs if you arent going to play them.They really are good.Sadly,they make you wish that the game was like that from the beginning.

    1. Vic 2.0 says:

      The DLCs are amazing, but I’m glad they built up to it instead of throwing you right into a world that is altogether unbelievable.

  9. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I suggest a reverse on the taunts thing, make a DLC that changes Harbinger’s taunts in ME2 to those of the Taken from Alan Wake.

    “There are 65 billion cows and pigs in the world!”
    “Fishing can be a hobby or a job!”
    and of course:
    “Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your heart!”

    1. Michael says:

      Sadly, this makes me really wish Alan was voiced by, and modeled on, Kieth Szarabajka.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If you want to make players feel sorry for the enemies,take a page from valves book.Headcrab zombies,especially on fire,are such pitiful things.

    1. lurkey says:

      Geckos in New Vegas. When you wound them, sometimes they sort of crouch and put their paws over their heads in such a pitiful, scared way I just can’t finish them. Also, once I managed to snipe Momma Deathclaw before wiping out her litter…she drops dead, and they all rush to cradle her dead body, whimpering and crying…ohgodwhathaveidone :`(

      On the other end of scale, housewife sploicers in Bioshock? Wish I were able to revive them so that I could murder them again. And again. And again and again and again.

    2. Varriety says:

      Until you’ve mown down a few dozen of the bastards in Ravenholm. At that point I shot them, not to put them out of their misery, but to make them shut up. They are pitiful, but putting a few dozen perfectly identical pitiful enemies in your way makes it a chore.

  11. I just want to point this out:

    Spoiler Warning crew (sans Rutskarn), week One:
    “I really liked the manuscript pages. There are some of the best collectibles I’ve seen in awhile.”

    Spoiler Warning crew, week Four:

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Which actually reflects the evolution of my approach to them really well. Putting aside the fact that the backstory for the manuscript is given away far too early when I started collecting them I had a lot of reactions like “whoah, this is cool”, “I wonder how I’m going to get into that situation”, “ooh, here’s something interesting about this character”. Later on, as the combat grew increasingly tedious I was getting increasingly frustrated with every fork in the road, because on the one hand there may be a manuscript page there, on the other if I go there this will prolong my trek through this forest and the game will probably spit another bunch of Taken at me. And don’t even get me started on the pages locked in Nightmare difficulty, I’m by default not very keen on replaying most games within the scope of a few years at least, or on “hard” difficulty levels.

    2. Ben says:

      Well as they discuss in this episode the manuscript pages make a lot of sense in theory. Having a collectable that actually is plot relevant makes sense and the idea of having it do some foreshadowing is very cool. What makes it less cool is that it is a collectable with all of the limitations of that design. A good collectable requires some effort to collect and a player probably isn’t going to be able to get all of them on the first go which somewhat undermines their narrative effectiveness.

    3. Vic 2.0 says:

      I think the manuscripts make sense in every way. First, they are placed in the world by Zane (If you recall the cutscene showing Alan’s escape from the cabin, you saw him picking them all up just before “Barbara” showed up and, well, who knows what happened there). He even tells you later that he’s trying to place them in the right order, intentionally right before you experience what’s coming – which doesn’t happen all too often. Zane says it’s hard to do this, which is no surprise, considering all Zane has to go on in determining where to place each page is the pages of the manuscript itself which may provide descriptions of some environments but are naturally not going to help as well as pictures would.

      I don’t get the b****ing about collectibles, really. If you want them, go for them. If you don’t, don’t. It’s simple.

  12. scowdich says:

    So, playing Alan Wake is what it took for the SW crew to say nice things about Bioshock. I wonder what they’ll have to play before they can be nice about Alan Wake?
    I kids, of course. I’m appreciating the blend of positive and negative commentary, you guys are striking a good balance.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “I wonder what they'll have to play before they can be nice about Alan Wake?”

      Mass effect 3,of course.

      1. Newbie says:

        Mass Effect 3 never came out. What are you talking about? Mass Effect 2 ends with the Reapers invading the galaxy and they killed everyone.

        Right guys?

        1. X2Eliah says:

          Well, the end outcome – everyone dies – yeah, that’s pretty much it.

          Btw, befoe anyone whines, this is not a spoiler, this is common sense.

          1. Michael says:

            So long as “everyone” includes the entire dev staff responsible for that mess, I’m happy. :p

          2. JPH says:

            I think you mean common knowledge, not common sense.

            1. X2Eliah says:

              I think you are mistaken in thinking what I meant ;)

  13. Even says:

    I think the Taken and the whole story could have worked better if Alan actually reacted like a sane person to the things happening. Make him worry more about not knowing what’s going on and the potential consequences of his actions and everything that’s happening. Make him seriously question the manuscripts. The way he just goes along with everything without much second guessing just misses a lot of opportunities to develop his character.

    “The headache was excruciating. The pain felt like a machete hacking through my synapses. The thought of being stuck in a world where everything was predestined by words that I had written was more than I could bear. The pages, everything in them had come true. My mind felt like crumbling under the revelation it was all because of me. I had killed all those people. Now they were nothing more but disturbing creatures of darkness, faint memories of the people they once were, borne out of the darkness. I wanted to change the story, but I couldn’t. It was all meant to be.”

    Edit: As in going along with the manuscripts. They wouldn’t necessarily make for better reading, but anyway.

    1. He starts doing this in the later chapters. Right now, we’re at the stupid kidnapper plot of the game.

      1. Amnestic says:

        Judging by the screams at the end of this episode, I’d say we’ve just about finished the stupid kidnapper plot and are about to start the stupid Smug Prick Face Doctor plot.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          At least it gives us something a bit different.Though they shouldve played the insanity card much sooner,and give more weight to it.It worked for the dlcs.

          1. Yeah. We’re almost to the good part.

  14. Velkrin says:

    If you’re going to keep mentioning Bioshock then I’ll just leave this here for Mumbles.

  15. Thomas says:

    The reason they didn’t go open world was that when players had more control over their experience it was impossible to make the story elements flow they said. When you turn up to meet your kidnapper in a big-ass jeep it doesn’t put the sense of power in the right place

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “The reason they didn't go open world was that when players had more control over their experience it was impossible to make the story elements flow they said.”

      So they decided to break the flow with tedious combat instead?Makes sense.

      1. Thomas says:

        Remember they believe they’ve created a unique interesting combat system :D

        To be fair combat is less of fundamental design flaw than open world, because you could just remove most of the enemies from the game, or make the combat interesting. Open world just doesn’t gell

        1. There are the beginnings of a good combat system here. They just needed to do more with it. They need to have more variations in both the enemies and situations you find yourself in. Maybe a scene where there’s a powerful Taken you can’t fight. To get through, you have to quickly move from light source to light source in order to keep it at bay. This is just off the top of my head.

          As for enemies, they already have much more variety in American Nightmare, so the question is why it took so long.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            They did experiment a bit in the dlcs,and those places are better for it.

          2. Vic 2.0 says:

            But see, American Nightmare ended up being even more “boring” than the first game (not that I agree this is the right word for it). Because you have absolutely no reason to fear anything in AWAN. You have near infinite stamina, a frickin’ semi-automatic, and the number of enemies that attack you are laughable. It doesn’t take long to see why they took out the auto-aim feature, so there’d at least be the illusion of a challenge somewhere in the game.g

            Variety of certain kinds can in fact hurt. There is no better purpose served by American Nightmare than demonstrating that fact.

      2. Vic 2.0 says:

        “The reason they didn't go open world was that when players had more control over their experience it was impossible to make the story elements flow they said.”

        “So they decided to break the flow with tedious combat instead?Makes sense.”

        You’d rather there not be so much combat so Alan eventually reasons, “You know, it’s really not that bad out here. I’m sure my wife will turn up soon”? *yawn* There is no combat that pulls you away from the story. It should remain understood that as you’re trying to get to the bottom of everything, the darkness is trying to stop you. That’s actually a flaw often seen in so-called horror movies or games: you’re given these nice, long windows of time to have a little chat about what’s going on or your feelings about everything. The monsters wait patiently on a proverbial bench until you’ve learned more about their weaknesses before they try and attack you some more!

        No, this is yet another thing they did right by doing it differently.

  16. Mr Guy says:

    I kind of agree with Shamus that I liked that “you’ve been a patient of mine for awhile” page.

    However, I think it’s in the wrong place. It would have been much more interesting something like a chapter or so earlier (some time around when we meet the kidnapper). Actually make the player question Alan’s sanity by bringing in “wait, is this all one big dream sequence?” right around the time the gameplay starts feeling contrived. I wish they’d done this with a lot of the pages – presented the “direct relationship to the plot” pages earlier than “right before it happens.” This would have built some suspense and “wait, what?” moments.

    The plot of this game lends itself naturally to a whole host of theories of “what’s really going on?” I know around this point in the game I had “Alan’s wife died three years ago shortly after the flashback (in a car crash), and this is his psychotic break,” “Alan never married – this is his pent-up regret manifesting itself,” “Alan isn’t real. HE’S the character and Alex Casey is the author,” “Alan’s in that insane asylum we heard about,” and a bunch of others seeming plausible in my mind. There are plenty of plot points out there to support a number of these theories. Why NOT play with that? Drop hints every which way?

    It’s like they don’t give the players enough credit to recall back to “wait–didn’t I read about this earlier?” if you don’t drop the page RIGHT BEFORE it happens…

    And, yeah, I know – the whole reason the pages are where they are is because they’re supposed to be hints. But still – feels like if you want to build in a foreshadowing mechanic, use it to, y’know, foreshadow.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I agree that it wouldve been better if they started the whole “is it real” part sooner.Also if they didnt drop it so quickly.

      And they do foreshadow some things much earlier.The page about nightingale catching you is somewhere in the middle of the chapter,while the scene itself happens at the end.

      But then again,exposition was better done in the dlcs,even if they are done immediately before the things happen,because the actor delivers them in such a good way,instead of this monotone.So you come to hate every television you come across,but also expect another good rant.

    2. Vic 2.0 says:

      It’s not about foreshadowing; it’s all part of the plot.

      It’s interesting that, in the same post criticizing the game for not giving players enough credit to think they could remember important events, you give reason to believe you yourself forgot that the manuscripts are in fact being placed by Thomas Zane. He says at one point that he’s trying to deliver them to the “right locations”, undoubtedly meaning that when they do actually appear right before what they’re regarding (which is actually quite rare), that he’s succeeding at what he’s trying to do: give warnings about what’s just around the bend.

  17. Johan says:

    Speaking of how they really should have done more to make the taken feel either weird/otherworldly or peoplelike, there’s this one really awesome line from Silent Hill 3. I didn’t play myself but I watched a friend, where the Girl goes and talks to this guy after slaughtering her way through a bunch of monsters and she says something like
    “how are you here, there are monsters everywhere”
    To which he replies
    “Monsters, they look like monsters to you?”
    It really did a lot to fuck with our perception of the game and the character. Or course SH was already doing a lot of good things to make you wonder “ok, what is real and what isn’t,” but that line added an extra layer, and something like that could have been of use here.

    The problem is that the gameplay wants you to treat the Taken as simple mooks, they are in your way so you kill them. While the story wants you to treat them as “they used to be people and maybe some part of them still is” (see also their weird talky lines). At no point are we really given any reason to:
    disbelieve Alan’s side of the story (oh monsters trying to kill me so I shot them, I’M NOT AT FAULT AT ALL)
    Think about these things at all, they seem to be even LESS peopleish than the monsters in SH just because they are all so generic and repetitive.

    So the gameplay version of the taken undercuts any story version, and just makes the whole thing bland across the board without any real depth or personality.

    On the other hand I haven’t played this game so maybe this is actually some plot or gameplay point later, but so far this is what it seems to be

    1. Vic 2.0 says:

      “The problem is that the gameplay wants you to treat the Taken as simple mooks, they are in your way so you kill them. While the story wants you to treat them as “they used to be people and maybe some part of them still is'”

      Huh? You’re told very explicitly in the tutorial that “(The darkness is) still inside him, controlling him. He can’t be saved. He is still a threat, he is still your enemy.” And there’s never any doubt expressed or encouraged concerning that, so the claim that the gameplay and the story aren’t in sync on this issue is utterly false.

  18. Timelady says:

    So…what if Alan Wake had been a point and click game?

    No, really, hear me out. What really seems to stand out for people are the daylight scenes, the scenes where Alan’s world, the characters, and the plot gets developed in a way that doesn’t take you out of the mood. So what if the designers had cut the combat entirely (and all of the “and suddenly, I was in the woods again” pseudo-transitions) or almost entirely, and focused the game around those parts? You don’t need combat to make a scary game, and it might work better than fighting Taken after Taken. I’m thinking about games like Shadow of the Comet, or Dark Fall, or, hell, even the first half of Barrow Hill.

    And cutting out all the gauntlets of running through the woods triggering scripted events would probably cut down on the linearity of the game. Not completely, mind you, but a certain amount of linearity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a point and click game.

    The other thing Alan Wake has in spades, constant narration by the protagonist, is really such a staple in this type of game that I honestly didn’t notice it until you guys pointed it out in that first episode.

    The big issue in my mind is that making the game that way would require some really good level/puzzle design and a real focus on plot integrated with story, and, honestly, I don’t think I’d trust Remedy to deliver on that.

    1. The thing is that Alan being hounded by Taken is an important part of the plot. They don’t need to take away the combat sections so much as redesign them. This could have worked. It could have been amazing.

    2. Vic 2.0 says:

      I would hate that. The addictive combat is usually half the reason I keep coming back for more playthroughs! The other half is the environment/atmosphere. Both are incredibly unique though acquired tastes.

  19. Eärlindor says:

    But Mumbles! I sometimes listen to audio books before bed, and I fall asleep. Sometimes it helps me fall asleep.

    1. Alex says:

      The first person to sell tapes of the Alan Wake VO reading tax returns will be credited with curing Insomnia.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      It wouldnt work for me.I cure my insomnia with horror movies.Im weird like that.

  20. Newbie says:

    Guy’s I’ve head Rutskarn loves coffee.

  21. Alex says:

    I never had any problem with Mass Effect 3’s ladders.

    Mumbles is clearly just still distraught from having her heart broken by Stephen Hawking.

    1. X2Eliah says:

      They were fine, in my experience, in single-player.
      The real issue for me was in multiplayer matches – all too often due to a slightly laggy connection, the map would “glitch out” (telltale sign – the landing shuttle would never fly off and just hover at the dropzone all the time) – and then the stairs would plain and simple not function. And even in good maps, the slow stair-moving speed and the amount of time you are “locked on” to them is pretty detrimental and can often lead to your or someone else’s death.

      1. Alex says:

        I had not considered this. I just avoided the multiplayer on principle. I’m not giving EA more money to access a game mode I already paid for.

        (Granted, that money went to Gamestop and not EA/BioWare. But the Live subscription should be enough to access freaking MULTIPLAYER.)

        1. But who’s going to pay for server space!? (/sarcasm)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But who's going to pay for the dope!? (/not completely sarcasm)

    2. Thomas says:

      I’m the opposite of Josh, I hate ladders which you just climb up. It feels really awkward, control is taken away with you because you kind of have to be sucked onto the ladder (or have the really really dated solution where you kinda float up the ladder, which always led to me wasting a minute trying to get the guy to move how i wanted). And you accidentally walk up them, and then you try and get down and your not pressing the right direction because you’re reacting on being sucked up the ladder. If it’s a button its in my control. They could do with speeding ladder climbing and ladder gripping up though. We don’t need to dwell on it

    3. wyatt1048 says:

      Oh god, I had so many problems with the ladders. Going down them, sometimes Shepard would get stuck at the top, doing the sliding down pose but not moving. Then plummeting off the map and dying. Going up them would occasionally loop the animation just before the top, unable to go up or down. Also, if one of your squadmates is going down as you come up? Well, I don’t want to explain to Joker what exactly Shepard was doing with EDI, but she did not want to get down, apparently.

  22. decius says:

    At 3:20- Where is the light streaming in from the ceiling coming from? Isn’t it night outside?

    1. Michael says:

      It’s supposed to be moonlight. Honestly the moon kinda undermines the whole “allergy to any light” thing as it seems to consistently put out enough light to read by throughout most of the game.

      1. decius says:

        It’s blinding to look at, and the moon isn’t out when you’re outside, much less that high in the sky.

        1. Michael says:

          Yeah, I’m not saying it makes sense, just that, based on the color, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be moonlight.

      2. Vic 2.0 says:

        Perhaps it’s to suggest by comparison how dark the cave you’re in really is?

        Try and think of the light’s effect on the Taken as you would heat’s effect on you and I. The moon is not harmful to the Taken just as a warm sauna is not that harmful to us. But there are degrees and concentrations of light and heat that can do serious damage to Taken and humans, respectively.

        Moon and stars shining down upon a mostly rural area, enough to read by? Totally believable. And anyone who doesn’t know this hasn’t lived!

  23. Moewicus says:

    There once was a fellow named Wake;
    too many blows to the head did he take.
    There was so much pain
    it stabbed his ol’ brain
    and the subsequent prose gave us headaches.

  24. Axiomatic Badger says:

    1. Alan Wake, as voice by BRIAN BLESSED.
    2. This game becomes a whole lot more entertaining when you realise that the dark presence is Coffee.

    3. Collectable Information works best if it’s unnecessary. Rather than explaining the plot, which should be handled through the main narative, it should provide extra information and depth for those who are truely interested in the setting. NPC relationships, the history of the villian beyond that required to understand it’s nature/motivations, that kind of thing.
    Deus Ex: HR did pretty well at this kind of thing.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “1. Alan Wake, as voice by BRIAN BLESSED.”

      And have god…I mean zane voiced by morgan freeman.

      1. Axiomatic Badger says:


    2. X2Eliah says:

      Brian Blessed?

      Really? You’d want the protagonist of an ambient-moody semi-scary game, meant to be a rather introspective, levelheaded writer with tons of internal monologue, to be voiced by a show-off shouty loudmouth?

      I mean, heck, BB’s big thing is that he has a crazily loud voice – that doesn’t inherently imply that it is better than A.Wake’s current voiceover.

      Besides, you could have picked anyone.. Why not go for, idk, Stephen Fry?

      1. Sumanai says:

        I don’t think he’s going for what you think he is going for.

    3. Vic 2.0 says:

      “3. Collectable Information works best if it's unnecessary. Rather than explaining the plot, which should be handled through the main narative,”

      There is nothing essential to the plot and explained in a manuscript that isn’t explained in the main narrative when it’s relevant and needed. I.e., the manuscripts are not necessary for understanding the story.

  25. Teemu Helasharju says:

    To me, the house where the Lady of Light has done the crazy writing on the walls with the illuminating paint was one of the unnerving parts about the game that stood out to me. Up until now the yellow paint had been a good thing, showing the way to precious ammo and batteries. But now, all of a sudden I’m starting to question the sanity of the person smearing it everywhere and wondering whether I’ll get stabbed in the face the next time I follow one of the trails.

    1. Vic 2.0 says:

      Haha, oh yes, very memorable moment. Particularly because they make it so you have to fall in there, if my memory serves me correctly.

  26. Bluespike5 says:

    Yay TV Tropes reference from Josh!

  27. Reality Warper says:

    on battle taunts. going on to the earlier suggestion of having like 1-3 taken a chapter. you have say rusty get possessed but you have no gun. rather you have the flashlight and he is hunting you throughout the level and you need to use the flashlight/flares to ward him off. he starts off with a normal taken’s speed and power and his combat taunts are as rusty with his normal voice like: “where am I it’s so dark” “mr.wake help me” “rose, where are you” and after you chase him off he comes back with superspeed and more health uttering the normal park ranger taunts and weird voice to give a sense that rusty isn’t at the helm, after all it’s no longer what he cared about but just what he said habitually. after you chase him off you go awhile without seeing him but occasionally hearing his taunts to keep you panicked.then for the third time you see him mutate into some monstrous form and from then on he has barbara jagger’s voice saying things like “finish the story” “free me” ect. and that is where you kill him. just to really sink in that you are watching this guy disappear and make you feel both guilt and anger. the exception is agent nightingale who could be the taken in the city level. not only more dangerous cause he has a gun but he knows what happened so his starting taunts are accusations: “this is your fault wake’ “you made this happen to me” ect. in the second one it’s fbi taunts like your rights, in the third it breaks tradition by having a voice of the legion scenario where both nightingale and jagger are talking at once to give that peter parker vs eddie brock thing where nightingale’s anger made him merge with jagger so it’s actually him trying to kill you.

  28. Vic 2.0 says:

    I loved the mines! Well, I loved the whole game, really. But I thought the creepy voice (Alice’s voice, presumably) saying “Alan… Alan.” was a nice touch. And the “puzzle” whereby you have to climb out via a series of ladders was a welcome change of pace. Not that I wasn’t ready for more combat when I got out of there!

    Trivia: The location entered at about 12:25 in the video is the game’s first confirmed infinite enemy respawn area! Or, at least the first area that I’ve yet to kill them all in, no matter how much time or ammo I put into the process!

  29. Vic 2.0 says:

    4:10 – I think the monotone voice is consistent with his character, whom is not created to be entertaining to say the least. But as an added bonus, it makes the action in the game that much more ALIVE by comparison. It’s easy for a game to overdo personality, which in turn can undercut the significance of pretty much any event that’s adjacent to it. Further, have you ever stopped to consider that this is one peculiar thing he has in common with Thomas Zane? Does it imply they have something more in common than just being writers? Maybe they are dull-sounding because they’re both in the dark place without the women they love and have been for x number of years?… Or maybe they sound dead… because they are? Eh, moving on.

    7:20 – Recall that Zane is the one leaving the manuscript pages behind… Now, note that you found a manuscript page in the mines before reaching the ladder maze… Are you still surprised everything’s working to make Alan’s job a little easier?

    Oh, and that as a “commute to work” (more accurately a method of moving large equipment from one level to another) is totally believable. Especially in the 70s, this sort of method was quite common. They couldn’t very well carry a lot of their equipment up on a ladder, after all.

    10:10 – No, this story trying to be in open world would not work. Being able to choose where you go and when, being able to possibly stockpile weapons and all that? Too much.

    10:50 – Where you get the idea that Alan is a bad writer still eludes me. The manuscript was essentially written by “Barbara Jagger”, so what else you got? Some of the lines you’ve criticized in the game? What makes you so sure either Alan or the dark presence added those in?… Nothing. So the argument that Alan’s writing sucks is entirely uncorroborated.

    11:20 – Yes, you did ask why there were no female Taken already. My theory is that the dark presence only took a handful of people to create its Taken from (suggested also by model repetition and the fact that the Taken disappear when “killed” rather than just fall over dead), the first handful it could find alone in the woods at night. This batch was unsurprisingly all male.

    12:30 – Ok, Alan is officially smarter than you people. As I just stated, the model repetition and vanishing rather than keeling over, all this suggests no one’s being killed by Alan. He made the mistake of thinking he had killed one of them the very first time he defeated one. After that, no mention of it because he understood that he hasn’t killed anyone! No matter how many times you see the same exact Taken show up after disappearing, you don’t get that? Sheesh.

    13:30 – “You want to make them (the players) regret what already happened to these people”

    Done. End of Episode 4. For Pete’s sake, play a game all the way through before you start ripping on it online!

    14:40 – Combat taunts would be a bad idea in this game, as they usually are. It’s a good thing Alan Wake has zero combat taunts in it! :)

    15:30 – So, after all the complaining about the combat being laid on too thick, you suggest they make dialogue for the Taken version of Rusty that makes you feel bad about him dying… right after witnessing his death and seeing his dead dog on the ground!? Talk about overdoing things. No, the point of the spiel on park regulations was chaos. He’s running around you at lightning quick speeds, and filling the air with words to disorient you. I thought it fit the battle quite well, because that’s all his movements were causing: disorientation.

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