Alan wake is a frustrating masterpiece. It’s charming and brimming with a mysterious atmosphere, and both are on display in Alan wake: Remastered more than ever. However, its issues are still as glaring as they were 11 years ago, and this remaster does nothing to alleviate them.
Let’s put that aside: the actual act of playing Alan wake was already boring in 2010. By today’s standards, it’s legitimate work. A good 40% of some levels are just jogging in the woods or on a road, and Alan can only run for about five seconds without slowing down and without huffing for breath – a relatable trait, from one writer. to the other, but not the kind of thing that makes gameplay fun.
The light-based combat, where Alan has to lower each enemy’s dark shield by pointing a flashlight at them and then detonating them with a variety of guns, is healed the first handful of times. Corn Alan wake fills each level with dozens and dozens of enemies, each requiring the same two-hit tactics. In the modern age, when so many games are confident enough to make combat ephemeral in the service of story and tone, Alan wake feels old.
Other pain points immediately returned when I started playing, such as how enemies often spawn behind you without a sound or signal to warn you. There’s also the way the game’s charming storytelling sometimes disappears for minutes at a time, or is interrupted in favor of full-scale battles with the villains of Darkness (referred to as The Taken). Memories of fending off armies of evil birds while standing on a gondola or trying not to be run over by an evil train all hit me at the same time.
The Remaster does not Alan wake a lot of favors visually either. The faces of the characters are not at all emotional and the cutscenes tend to stutter in some sections. The surrounding forests and backgrounds look beautiful and look better at higher resolutions, but it highlights the rest of Alan wakeugliness by comparison. In other words, there is no doubt that this is an Xbox 360 game at its core.
The main benefit of playing the game on a PlayStation 5 – which still seems odd, considering Alan wake was originally an Xbox exclusive – it appears to be easily accessible and has shorter load times. The DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers also make aiming at my guns without boosting my flashlight much easier than it originally was – the trigger has two breakpoints on PS5, with a slight grip aiming at the gun and a tight grip focusing your light.
Exhaustion was the theme of my Alan Wake: remastered play sessions. I’m exhausted by the narrative bits and pieces that I love, the game is exhausted by his age of 11, and damn it, even Alan Wake himself is exhausted from just jogging. But every long run or burst of fighting inevitably brings me back to why I originally played Alan wake in 2010. It rewards my patience and hard work with its atmosphere, personality and charm.
Alan wake knows exactly what kind of game it is. It still is, and it’s that confidence that keeps it positive in the minds of so many. Alan wake displays his influences – mainly those of David Lynch Twin peaks and the works of Stephen King – so blatantly that Alan might as well wear a Carrie t-shirt and leave records for his secretary, Diane.
At one point, a Taken slices a hole in a door, with Alan right behind the blade, in a clear homage to The brilliant. If that wasn’t enough, Alan comments as the man with the ax just tried to break down the door like Jack Nicholson in The brilliant. The in-game Oh Deer Diner could just as easily be the Double R Diner from Twin peaks. Alan recites a quote from Stephen King to start the game.
Alan wake is a love letter to people who love the macabre, the scary, the slightly horrible. It’s for book and TV nerds who want to snuggle up in a plaid blanket, turn off the lights, and open the curtains. His in-game TV show, Nocturnal springs, is Remedy Entertainment’s beautiful reimagining of The twilight zone. Finally, Alan’s oft-hokey and over-the-top storytelling seems intentional – like he’s reading a manuscript for his best-selling new novel (which it is).
When you let go of all the frustration of playing Alan wake, it is full of atmosphere. The way enemies sneak behind trees gives me chills, even after seeing her 20 times. The way the wind blows through the forest when you are alone, even when nothing scary is happening, is reminiscent of reading a horror novel in your bed at night, when everyone is asleep soundly.
It is the sinister varnish that not only saves Alan wake, but like his flashlight, burns through the darkness which is its sickening gameplay. Alan wakeThe sense of place, its themes, the atmosphere it creates, make it a classic, and nothing – not even the time – can eclipse it.
Alan Wake: remastered will be released on October 5 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. The game has been tested on PlayStation 5 using a pre-release download code provided by Remedy Entertainment. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find further information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.