Alan Wake

Small town horror on a big scale

Alan Wake is a successful American writer, and if he’d read any Stephen King novels he’d know he was already off to a bad start…

All is well, until his wife disappears. Devastated and suffering from writer’s block, Alan decides to move to a picturesque but spooky small town on his own. Once in Bright Falls, he meets his wife’s apparent doppelganger and starts to have nightmares. At least it gets him writing again. But somehow Alan’s nightmares start to become true during his increasingly sleepless nights...

That said, Alan Wake isn’t really the star. Bright Falls is. In fact, this may be THE next step from Grand Theft Auto. No, it’s not bigger, it’s not gangsterier, but it’s more alive. And that’s the key. The mountainous surroundings and small, frigid town centre is one of unprecedented atmosphere. Look past the beauty and the real achievement is its shifting nature. Days may start bright but cloud over. Storms build, whipping up dead autumn leaves and rustling the trees. And volumetric shadows angle from the smallest object to the largest mountain as the cold sun arcs overhead. What’s more, with Havok in charge of the physics, everything from rockslides to the many driveable vehicles behave in a worryingly realistic fashion.

This isn’t just a shooter, though, and all these effects aren’t just for show. Brilliantly, Wake can use light as a weapon. Anything from a simple torch, through to portable lamps fitted with motion sensors and an entire lighthouse, can be used to hold off the things in the dark.

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