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VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Alan Wake's American Nightmare

Feb. 24, 2012by: Alex Keen

Just released today, ALAN WAKE'S AMERICAN NIGHTMARE is the downloadable follow-up to the acclaimed cult favorite, ALAN WAKE. After taking seven years to make the first game, Remedy Entertainment has struck while the iron is hot to make sure this property isn’t forgotten in the shuffle. I was lucky enough to get an early look at the game and these are my first impressions.

TRIMMING THE FAT

One of the first things that jumped out at me about this game was that the developers did away with the extensive exposition of the last game. Instead of slogging through a ton of fact-finding, ALAN WAKE'S AMERICAN NIGHTMARE starts off fairly quickly. Just like the majority of games available on Xbox Live Arcade, this game is targeting players less interested in long runs of gameplay. Instead, the game can be explored in smaller bursts - filled with action and challenges.

BETTER STORYTELLING

While I recognize that there is definitely an audience of gamers who enjoyed the storytelling in the first game, I really enjoyed the new voiceovers in this version. When I originally reviewed ALAN WAKE, I complained “My major gripe with the storytelling was the piss-poor narration. The game uses the thoughts and narration of the character of Alan Wake to explain specific game expectations or gameplay quirks. It does so in a silly and implausible way that took me out of the story several times at the beginning of the game.” This time around, Alan’s narration is left for the manuscript pages you’re expected to collect. The voiceover work here is much approved and helped me connect better with the stories and character.

GREAT GRAPHICS FOR A DOWNLOADABLE GAME

Hands down, ALAN WAKE'S AMERICAN NIGHTMARE is one of the best looking games available for download. This looks almost as good as some of the best retail titles. I especially enjoyed how large the play areas are and varying terrain. For a game selling for just $15, it looks better than anything in it’s price range.

MORE CHILLS FOR ME THIS TIME

With the original ALAN WAKE, I complained that there was a lack of scares there. Having played several hours of this sequel, I am proud to report that ALAN WAKE'S AMERICAN NIGHTMARE was much better in the chills department. I still wouldn’t consider it one of the scariest games I’ve played. Nevertheless, there are some strong jump scare moments that kept me on my toes. Furthermore, the sound effects and narration provided some spookiness that will keep me from playing much after midnight.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I had a great time with the beginning of this game. I really enjoyed the new approach to the game and am glad that they didn’t change the gameplay so much to affect the experience. While I had gripes with the first game in this series, I think fans of ALAN WAKE will be pleased when they purchase this game. Also, I think new players looking for a solid February game will enjoy ALAN WAKE'S AMERICAN NIGHTMARE as much as I did!

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