What you are about to read may entice the world of one's imagination, where games and stories converse into one being. Where one's look at something stirs one of an other's criticism on another creation of a group of artists: The Alan Wake's American Nightmare Review.
Intro: Previously at Remedy Entertainment
Two years ago Remedy Entertainment released the "First Season" of their second video game franchise, Alan Wake. The last franchise they developed was the critically acclaimed games, Max Payne. Alan Wake is about a writer (Alan Wake) who writes things that come true, but are twisted by a dark presence. He is able to fight by using a flashlight and a gun. Now, Remedy has released a 'stand alone' sequel to Alan Wake, but is no way Alan Wake 2. The developers stated this game as a "Pulp Action Thriller", as opposed to the first game's "Psychological Action Thriller". Alan Wake's American Nightmare is an Xbox Live Arcade game that really seems to push the boundary on arcade title.
Part 1: New Nightmare
After two years of being in the "Dark Place" , an evil doppelganger of Alan Wake has been created and he is Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch is the accumulation of all the urban legends about Alan Wake the crazy writer that where made up during the time of his disappearance from the real world. Mr. Scratch is a malevolent caricature of Alan Wake who impersonation him to try and open the door between the world of imagination and our world. The real Alan won't let that happen. There are three more new characters in this game, all of which, are not very fleshed out, but there is no time for that in an arcade game. The voice acting of these new characters is very mediocre, but the voice of Alan Wake and Mr.Scratch is as excellent as ever.
The game begins exactly like an episode of the fake TV show from Alan Wake called Night Springs (Twilight Zone copy). The narrator does a fairly good Rod Serling impersonation throughout the entire game, but not annoyingly so. Alright, so the story is cool and all, but the character gets stuck in a time loop. A concept like that is a perfect match for a Twilight Zony pulp story to it. The game also features TVs, Radios, and Manuscript pages to interact with to give a little back story to each element and story in this game. One must have a very open mind when trying to enjoy this story. It is definitely a great spin off story for the Alan Wake fan. For any new comers, play the first one, then play this one or if not, just keep an open mind while in this one. 1 egg and a half for Story and Characters.
Part 2: The Flashlight is mightier than the Gun
The gameplay of Alan Wake is something very different and never done before. Instead the Run-And-Gun approach that Max Payne had, you need to play much more defensively. The player must use the flashlight to burn the surrounding darkness away from the "Taken" (taken over by darkness) and only then can you shoot them. Sometimes the player must dodge to avoid getting hurt and use anything that can convey light to fight your foes. Some objects can become possessed and you can only burn the darkness away to destroy them.
It would seem that such a gameplay style would get very boring, but Remedy remedies (lol) this situation with a change in enemy combat and storyline gameplay. For example, some enemies like the Splitter are very hard to kill as one, but you can shine the light on them to split them up twice and make them easier to kill with more numbers. Other enemies such as the Birdmen turn into a flock of ravens when impacted with light. The Grenadiers use dark grenades, are easy to burn dark off, and attack at longer ranges. They even introduce an enemy called the Giant, he carries an enormous buzz saw and is about 8 feet tall and take a lot of light and bullets to kill. Certain parts of the game make you look at a manuscript to set up the change in reality, but presents no more challenge then do this and that in any dumb order and fight a bunch of guys.
Where the gameplay really shines is in the new wave based mode called, Fight Til Dawn. In this mode you have 10 minutes until dawn breaks and you must survive waves of increasing difficulty Taken. You can just evade until dawn, but there is no fun or points to be awarded in doing that. This mode features 5 different areas and 5 of the same with the Nightmare difficulty. None of these levels are at all easy and you will be screaming after playing some of the Nightmare ones. 2 Eggs for Gameplay.
Part 3: Pulp is a type of paper!
Alan Wake's American Nightmare uses the same stunning graphics as the previous title and as a 5 hour long arcade title. I give much praise to Remendy for doing such a great thing. They really made this game look like a convincing direct sequel even though its not nearly as long or uses a disc to play. Small parts of this game use live action cut scenes and they are also during the TV interactions (by that I mean turning on and viewing) much like from the first game.
Now something you didn't expect to be reviewed, the writing and music! The writing was very interesting and didn't seem to have that same worry about everything the first game had. The manuscript pages seemed more poetic and also blatantly explanatory of some situations faced in the game. One must realize that these pages were written to explain the other parts of the game looked into as apposed to telling a story the way the previous game did. The composed music wasn't very special and it was weird having the Kasabian Club Foot song the game and Ed Harcourt's Watching the Sun Come Up fit better because of the title more than the lyrics. A group by the name of Poets of the Fall with two songs make the music in this game great. They have a song called The Happy Song (I'm a physco!) and song called Balance Slays the Demon (as Old Gods of Asgard) If the first Alan Wake didn't get you into Poets of the Fall this one should. 1 and a half eggs.
Extro: Only in....
Alan Wake's American Nightmare is a fairly good spin-off to a very good game that must be tried by anyone who even thinks one second about it. This game keeps the fun gameplay of Alan Wake and pushes it a bit further; it also challenges the player in Fight Till Dawn and finishes off smoothly. It may lack in suspense and acting, but is not big price to pay for a much worth $15 for a game. Go get the trail version right now and enjoy it, because it is good. That's the bottom line.
A video game is meant to be a world of mystery and fantasy, not at all of events that took around in a certain time and place. Only a near disposition of a false reality and horror. Would we ever know if such events in this game happened? Would we really know what are in these eggs of light or dark. One could guess and be right or wrong in their imagination. False would be true only in Night Springs.