Alan Wake: The Signal

alanwake
What we liked:
+ Fast paced gameplay
+ Amazing lighting and atmosphere
+ New "word" element changes things up
What we didn't like:
- Not much of a story continuation
- Leaves much to be desired
- Gameplay can get very frustrating when in close quarters
DEVELOPER: Remedy   |   PUBLISHER: Microsoft Game Studios   |   RELEASE: 07/27/2010

Lots of new questions, not a lot of answers.

The psychological thriller Alan Wake gets its first batch of downloadable content in the form of “The Signal”. Picking up immediately after the events of the original game, this game continues the horror story of Mr. Wake, as he rushes to escape the Dark Presence. You are tasked with having to find the man who you were searching the entire game for, Thomas Zane, and are taken on a wild ride across familiar yet different environments from the original story.

To access the content, enter the code you received free with purchase (if bought new) and start up the game, and select the downloadable content option. From there, select The Signal, and you are immediately opened with a “Previously on Alan Wake” segment that shows you the ending of the original game, and gives you a little insight into what you will be doing this episode.

The story follows you from almost the beginning of the game, but revisited and distorted. You start from the same diner you opened the game to; this time however, all the characters are hologram images. You even still have to go to the restroom to find your buddy, Stucky. However, when you arrive there, shadows crash through every window and door, and you are thrown headlong into close quarters combat. As you progress, Zane contacts you and asks you to follow a GPS signal, which is your main motivation for this episode. Eventually have to trek across the town, which is made up of bits and pieces of all the environments that you have seen before.

The story leaves much to be desired, as you are left with more questions than answers. This is the first part of a set of two downloadable chapters, and I am sure we will eventually get answers, but you are left with almost no scraps of information in this episode. It seems like a waste to release it now, because you learn so little from the story, and when the main draw of this game, the part that kept me interested, is so lackluster this time around, I am left very disappointed.

The gameplay as a whole remains unchanged for the most part. You are still using a flashlight to shine the darkness off your enemies and leave them vulnerable, and then use a shotgun, revolver or flare gun to take them down. There are some new twists, as now there are “words” from your manuscript floating in the air, and when you shine your light on them, they will release an item, or cause an environmental effect. Another new twist is that a lot of the combat is in close quarters. Most of the combat of the original game was very out in the open, however this time around you are being swarmed with many enemies and must act quickly if you want to survive. This is fun, but it can get intensely frustrating. I found myself dying a lot more, even with no difficulty being selectable. Overall though, the gameplay is still very good, that is if you enjoyed from the main game.

The graphics are still as good as ever, with the lighting and atmosphere still being top notch. The environments are not really changed from the main game; they are just strung together differently, and mismatched. It’s like they have twisted Alan’s memories into something that they are not. They really don’t introduce any new environments with the exception of a couple at the end of the episode, but they still are very well made and atmospheric. The voice acting is good again this time around, and fits well with the episode and situations that the characters are in. Presentation is still high on the list of things that are done well.

Overall, The Signal is a good continuation of the story of Alan Wake; it just doesn’t introduce anything new into the mix. I found that I wanted to play the original story over again, because this didn’t give me anymore of the story that I wanted. It was nice to get back into the world of Alan Wake, and again be shown how messed up of a world it really is, but I hope as more episodes are released that they improve, and that there more answers to come.

Jeff Borsick

Jeff is a full-time student and has a disorder where he constantly trades in all his games to buy new ones, and then buys the older ones back. We are looking into getting him his own padded room.