What’s the Story?
Hit novelist Alan Wake hasn’t written a word in two years, so his wife books a holiday to Cauldron Lake so he can see a specialist. Instead, his wife disappears and he wakes up in a crashed car missing a week.
What’s the Problem?
Not a Very Good Writer
For a best-selling author, Alan’s narration and prose lacks something. That something is “voice”. Everything he reads is not only obvious most of the time (“I saw the door. It was closed.”) but also monotonal and dull. It lacks that sense of character that makes you believe the person actually exists and that sucks you into the story.
Sometimes Alan says things that help out, directing the player toward a missed item or solution, but most of the time he’s reading out things the player could have worked out easily on his own, which makes his content just as dull as his delivery.
The Voice Actor
Also seems to be phoning it in with this one. Maybe Alan just doesn’t have any character to work with (apart from “getting angry sometimes”), but still. When you’re main guy doesn’t seem to want to be there it doesn’t draw you deeper into the game.
isn’t Alan. I couldn’t tell this from the voice.
This is a problem because… okay, stay with me here:
It turns out that anything an artist draws/writes/creates at Cauldron Lake comes true, and there’s a Dark Presence there trying to manipulate the artists and bend the story to make it stronger. It kidnapped Alan’s wife and is holding her hostage until he finishes writing a story that will set it free. I’d say “Spoilers”, but you learn this pretty early on in the game if you’re paying attention.
Anyway, when you know this much, Alan’s missing week and mystery escape aren’t so mysterious – he must have written himself a way out. Easy. That probably also means that the presence that manifests itself as a bright light is Alan writing a character to help him.
Turns out, it isn’t and Alan didn’t. The bright light is in fact a completely different character. He just happens to be a different artist who also fought the Dark Presence and sounds exactly like Alan. Sorry for the confusion there.
seem to know about the Dark Presence and how to fight it, but don’t regard it as a big deal. In fact, they pretend to have kidnapped Alan’s wife so they can blackmail him for his latest writing. To do this, they put themselves constantly at risk of being killed or consumed by a nameless ancient evil. Seems like a bad trade to me. And, being that the Dark Presence hasn’t been around since the 70’s, how do they even know how to fight it? And why do they keep setting up meetings in the woods at night? Meet in the day, morons. Or in town, where there are streetlights.
Alan keeps saying that he can’t just write “And Alice came back and they lived happily ever after” on any piece of paper to finish the story. He had to first reach the magic cabin where the Dark Presence is strongest and find out what the story is so far. He has to write an ending that continues on from there. An ending that fits.
Makes sense. It’s also a good reason for the protagonist to willingly seek out the thing that’s trying to kill him rather than take the easy way out. The story has to be right.
Except that what Alan does is (SPOILERS AHEAD) completely ignore what’s written on the last page and, instead, rewrite existence. His wife doesn’t disappear, she’s fine. He disappears. He just undoes every event that you just played through.
do not have a “boost” function that intensifies the light but burns through a battery in about six seconds.
Even if they did, the batteries do not automatically recharge if you stop using the boost. Unless they have some crazy new space-age batteries and flashlights in Bright Falls. Which, judging by the technology on display in rest of the place, they don’t.
arrive, have dramatic effects on the story, and leave, and we never find out why they even existed. I’m looking at you, FBI Agent Nightingale, who appears in the story already hot on the heels of Alan for a crime we’re never told about, apparently isn’t possessed by the Dark Presence, and then dies without revealing why he’s so intent on arresting Alan. What the hell, man?
are pointless deviations that seem to exist purely to pad out the game because the main story wasn’t long enough. I’m looking at you, Entire Kidnapper Plot, which had nothing to do with Alan’s wife and didn’t advance the plot at all for a third of the game.
What’s the Solution?
I actually quite the idea of Alan Wake: the writer’s creation coming to life and getting him. The Dark Presence trying to get free. But they need to put more time into setting up that the Dark Presence wasn’t created by Alan (or Tom), but is actually a nameless ancient evil that’s always been there. They also need to establish that Tom the bright light and Alan are not the same character.
And if they want his amnesia to do… anything… they need to take out those flashes of Alice being dragged off by a Dark Presence. Those sort of give the game away.
Give us an Alan whose words and delivery draw us into the world rather than make us bored by it.
Learn how batteries work. Or give us guns whose bullets recharge as well!
Cut out the kidnapper thing; replace with more explanation of what’s actually happening. Show us some more of the town and its folk so we can care when it all becomes corrupted and evil.
Yeah, probably. The fighting itself is quite fun and it’s nice to see someone playing with the story-within-a-game concept, especially when characters read about the things they’re currently doing (“Agent Nightingale reached for a drink when he read the page about him reaching for a drink…”). And it’s nice to see such a story-driven game, even if it does miss a few beats.