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Alan Wake

Alan Wake has lost everything. His fiance, his muse, his work ... and now, his sanity. Unfortunately ... you're Alan Wake. Remedy, the creators of Max Payne, get back to their old chops; exploring an embattled, anguished protagonist and the blurred line between reality and insanity in the upcoming action thriller, Alan Wake. They've traded in the dual machine guns for a flashlight and over-the-top melodrama for haunting surface tension. Taking cues from David Lynch movies, this psychological thriller is set for a subtle, slow burn.

You'll play Wake, a horror novelist recovering from insomnia, writer's block, and the mysterious loss of his fiance. Uncannily, Wake's writing begins to predict reality, as he is furiously tortured in dreams by dark-robed figures. These "dark men" start to slip into the real world. They seem to cling to the night, and the day becomes your only true ally. This is no pulp-fiction gimmick, either: Alan Wake uses dynamic light, shadows, and complete day/night cycles as core gameplay elements. As the sun wanes and shadows grow longer, the environment transforms into something somber and sinister. Your enemy finds strength in this darkness, making light the only true weapon. Light is precious; better pack extra batteries.

The game unfolds inside Bright Falls, Washington, a serene and picturesque small town that is explored in mission-based, open-ended fashion (and yes, GTA fans, you'll have a car ... eventually). Early postcards from the edge reveal stunning vistas and eerily realistic characters. But you'll need serious horsepower to run this game: Remedy plans to add chip-melting elements like volumetric shadows and real-time weather that aren't just bling. Fiercely atmospheric weather affects everything in the game as it would in real life; wind blows the leaves on the ground, rain makes things slippery and dangerous.

But games like Alan Wake are beginning to shape the next-generation with more than just amazing graphics. Wake looks to exist in a world that looks and feels so real we could practically move in. The options, alternatives and downright flexibleness of the expected play experience should support the evolution of the video game art in a way classy graphics alone can't.

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