Monday, August 19, 2013

Alan Wake

Last month during the Steam summer sale lots of games were on sale and I bought a fair number of games that I may well never get around to playing. Stupid sales! One game, Alan Wake, I bought because it was on sale, and because it has Steam cards, and because I saw a Facebook post where my sister told my brother it was awesome and that he should buy it on sale. On the weekend (after noticing I could add categories to my Steam games and therefore tagged it as something with cards) I decided to give it a spin.

14 hours played later I've beaten the game and both of the extra DLC missions that came with it. It's a first third person shooter, and that's a genre I don't really like in general. The core of the genre is two mechanics I don't like very much: consumable items and aiming. So if I don't like the gameplay why did I keep playing after picking up my Steam cards? Well, the story is absolutely fantastic. I had to keep playing because I had to know what was going to happen next and how stuff that had already happened would be explained. It's got a horror theme and the atmosphere was perfect. The first boss fight actually had me shivering in panic. And not just because I had to aim at something that was moving faster than anything in the game had moved to that point! I think the sound effects of the thing moving so quickly helped, and they fit in perfectly as well.

The game actually dealt with both of my concerns in decent ways, too. It would constantly remove my entire inventory which meant saving up items 'just in case' wasn't something I needed to do. I still did for most of the game, but eventually I decided to just use my super weapons on trash mobs because if I didn't use them they'd just go away. (Added bonus: an achievement for killing 50 things with each weapon!) Also if I died and respawned at the last checkpoint it would either give me my inventory when I hit the checkpoint or 12 bullets for my revolver whichever was more. So if I reached a point where I didn't have enough ammo I could just die and probably get enough back. Only once did this not work out for me, and I eventually made it through that section by running for my life instead of shooting everything in sight. Aiming was a general problem, but not as bad as in most games because there is no concept (that I could tell, anyway) of a headshot. Either you hit the enemy or you didn't, and that's that. It also did a good job of auto-aiming for me, so as long as I shot in the general area of an enemy it was good enough. I still had to worry about rotating to shoot in the general area and sometimes when I wanted to snipe an explosive barrel or something the auto-aiming was annoying, but it was still better than a generic FPS.

There were all sorts of collecting achievements that I didn't get. Coffee thermoses that are your standard 'just find all the junk' fare and pages of a book that explain some of the plot. Some of these pages could only be found on the hardest difficulty, which I didn't play, and I missed a bunch of the normal ones too. That makes me sad, because I want to read them all. I want to see all the TV shows you can find, and listen to the radio shows. But the trash fights in the game were plentiful and I really didn't like the combat enough to want to do them again. Maybe at some point, but more likely I should just look them up on the internets.

I was a little annoyed at the ending because it didn't really tie things up. But I guess since they were likely planning DLC and such that's to be expected? The DLC was hidden pretty well and most of the annoyance went away when I found how to access it and was able to see a little more of the story. They also ended on a cliffhanger, no surprise there, but it felt more closed off at least. And since I bought the sequel at the same time I guess I can find out what happens next anytime I get around to installing it!

I remember seeing the logo for this game somewhere, maybe in a tv commercial? I really like it. The way the main character is the dead space in the A in Wake is pretty sweet.

It is animated in game, too! The flashlight and gun are great!
I only have one Steam friend who has this game, and I think that's a mistake that needs to be fixed. Anyone who likes horror stories or unique FPSers needs to get this game. It's a shame it's not still on sale for $4!


Jodie Page said...

I'm glad you played it and enjoyed it, too! I'm not a fan of shooters, either, but the story was definitely worth sticking around for.

But you didn't like collecting coffee thermoses?! That was my favourite part!! (I am only being a little bit sarcastic.)

Nick Page said...

No, I need to collect coffee thermoses! But I didn't want to wade through trash mobs to get them all.