Stephen King casts a long shadow over much of popular culture. Books, obviously, are where the Maine man’s influence is strongest, but also film, TV and even video games. Nowhere is this more clear than the critically lauded title Alan Wake, a love letter to Stephen King and the horror genre in general, given new life in the recently released Alan Wake Remastered.
Alan Wake tells the story of, well, Alan Wake. Ol’ mate Al’s a mystery writer who has been suffering writer’s block for two years. He and his missus, Alice, head over to the idyllic, but creepy, Bright Falls for some downtime, but it soon becomes clear Alice has an ulterior motive to try and get Alan’s creative mojo back. Things don’t go as planned, however, and Alice gets kidnapped, and Alan gets amnesia. Plus, there are a bunch of shadow people to fight and various weird twists and turns straight out of a trashy, compulsive paperback.
Alan Wake first released on XBOX 360 in 2010, and while Alan Wake Remastered is certainly the prettiest version of the game available, you won’t be confusing it with a brand new title. The animation is a little stiff, the textures are a little drab and the gameplay mechanics themselves feel very 2010. That said, it’s an undeniably compelling story, with solid writing, and while it lacks the polish of developer Remedy’s more recent Control, there’s a lot to like here.
Wandering through creepy locations, getting into blues with scary shadow-shielded gronks, and discovering tantalising story hints in the meta narrative – it’s all compelling stuff. And, if you’re looking at it in the context of a remaster, you’ll likely have a good time. However, if you’d rather just play something newer, prettier and streamlined? Control is an absolute cracker as well, and canonically appears in the same universe.
As we said earlier, Stephen King casts a long shadow over much of popular culture and when the result is something like Alan Wake Remastered? That’s not a bad thing.