A little while ago, we published a piece comparing Alan Wake to Alone in the Dark, and found an alarming number of similarities between 2008’s mediocre fire-based horror adventure and 2010’s high-minded “psychological thriller.” As we were playing through the game recently, however, we couldn’t help but notice a small storm of similarities to another, slightly more infamous title: the so-awful-it’s-amazing Deadly Premonition. And with the first piece of Alan Wake DLC (The Signal) releasing next week, it seemed like as good a time as any to point them out.
Above: Separated at birth?
Obviously, the two games were released too close together for one to have actually inspired the other – Deadly Premonition came out in February, Alan Wake in May – but that only makes their similarities weirder. How is it that a game hailed as one of 2010’s smartest could have so much in common with one of its stupidest? How could a game that’s been in development since the PS2 era share traits with a game that looks like it was released during the PS2 era? We’re not sure. All we know is that…
Horror games set in picturesque Pacific Northwest lumber towns aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, which is kind of surprising considering how popular Twin Peaks – the David Lynch-created TV series about a supernatural-tinged murder that brings FBI agents to a small town – was in the '90s. So to see two games whose pine-forested backdrops and creepy plots owe an obvious debt to the series come out within four months of each other is more than a little weird.
Above: … and picturesquerer
True, Deadly Premonition’s Greenvale and Alan Wake’s Bright Falls are miles apart in terms of quality, realism and explorability. After all, one’s a convincingly pretty backdrop for linear adventuring, and the other’s a sprawling mess of houses and too-huge public buildings. But it’s hard not to see little touches from one in the other, particularly when both games force you through sawmills, unusually big sheriff’s offices and remote motels that look like this:
One of the things Alan Wake caught flak for was the seeming disconnect between its daytime investigations and nighttime battles; because you’d only be in danger of fighting monsters when it was dark, you always knew exactly when you were safe, and so large swaths of the game completely lacked any tension.
Above: Relax, nothing’s going to jump out at you for a while
Deadly Premonition, interestingly enough, has a similar problem. The bizarre zombie-ghost-things that harass Agent Francis York Morgan aren’t necessarily restricted to nighttime, but they only come out during certain periods when the world undergoes a strange, Silent Hill-like change (that York never sees fit to mention to anyone).
What’s more, the enemies themselves look awfully similar, being largely made up of what appear to be possessed, undead townsfolk (particularly loggers and other outdoor-worker types), some of which have a tendency to move so rapidly, it looks like they’re teleporting. And while DP’s zombie-ghost things don’t have to be weakened by your flashlight the way Alan Wake’s Taken do, the ones carrying weapons will still shield their eyes from it in a very similar way to the Taken.
Above: Funny, that
In a more eerie coincidence, both monsters spout seemingly inappropriate gibberish as they attack. The Taken will say things they apparently did in life, like “Logging is a very hazardous profession!” while DP’s zombies will just moan the same lines about how they don’t want to die and you shouldn’t kill them (none of which, incidentally, will keep them from jamming their hands down your throat if you let them get too close).
Here, listen to the title-screen track from Deadly Premonition, The Woods and The Goddess:
And now the semi-spoilery “The Poet and the Muse,” one of the few original songs (not counting the score) from Alan Wake.
Even if you don't think they're all that similar (apart from maybe their titles and their use of acoustic guitar), how many games can you think of that prominently feature folk (or at least folky) music at all? Anyone?
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