Alan Wake’s American Nightmare Review
Having hit the shelves the same time as another “AAA” title from Rockstar (I’m lookin’ at you Red Dead Redemption) the original Alan Wake went largely unnoticed. To my immense satisfaction the developer Remedy, who is best known for the Max Payne series, has just released a spin off title called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.
We now find the protagonist Alan Wake trapped, inexplicably, in another nightmare of his own creation. This time around he has landed himself in an episode of the television show that he wrote, Night Springs. The locale has changed from the Pacific Northwest to the arid desert lands of Arizona and this seems to work for the story.
Again, you will find yourself hunting down pieces of the scattered manuscript pages, but this time to rewrite the events of the episode so you can catch up with Wake’s evil clone, Mr. Scratch, all while battling against the army of darkness known as The Taken.
It’s a premise that anyone who played the original Alan Wake should be familiar with but the developer shifted lanes a bit and instead focused more on combat versus storyline. This was a little disappointing for me because I really enjoyed the Steven King-esqueness of the original games storyline.
The gameplay itself went largely unchanged (Ever heard the saying ‘If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it?). You will still be pointing a flashlight at The Taken to weaken them before blasting them with any assortment of firearms. There are a few new weapons added such as the nail gun and the crossbow, which can pierce the darkness,that are a welcome, if small, addition to the combat. But, even though there are these small additions, they still don’t do much to add any lasting appeal to the game. Also, entering the foray is a new survival mode, Fight Till Dawn, which pits you against hordes of enemies in a struggle to, you guessed it, survive until sunrise. The Fight Till Dawn is, to say the least, fun. But, what I thought was a tragic mistake on Remedy’s part was the nonexistence of a multiplayer mode. Sure, there are leader boards that yours and your friends high scores, but I think a multiplayer aspect would have brought so much more to this mode. The combat, while fun, still lacks the frantic, on the edge of your seat tension that the first game had. This may be due to the fact that you will never, and I mean never run out of ammo.There is not sense of urgency to conserve ammo because there is a plethora of ammo stations and random ammo drops scattered around the world. There is also a surplus of streetlights, which serve as health stations for Wake.
The Bottom Line: With the new combat focus, the change of scenery, and the addition of a new Horde-like game mode called Fight Till Dawn, the Alan Wake series has managed to stay fresh. And, with a price tag of only $15, it is well worth the money. However, if you liked the story driven first title then you may want to wait until the price drops for this one, as it drops the emphasis on the story and instead shifts it focus on combat.
Nizulo gives this title a 7/10
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is now available for XBLA and is set to release on Windows PC May 22nd.