I’d never dipped into Remedy Entertainment’s library until last year, picking up Control on sale. I loved it, but I held off the DLCs because I knew AWE featured Alan Wake’s return, so I wanted to prepare. That was a year ago, and only now am I finally diving in.
Originally launched in 2010, Remedy has now remastered their acclaimed action-adventure mystery thriller with Epic Games, bringing it to PC and most major consoles. Offering improved graphics, updated character models and both DLCs, there’s still a fantastic experience within.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
Playing as the titular character, we find Alan - a bestselling crime fiction author - suffering from writer’s block, not publishing a new book for two years. Looking to get away for a short vacation, Alan and his wife Alice visit Bright Falls, a mountain town in Washington state. Taking a cabin at Cauldron Lake, Alice goes missing after being dragged into the lake by the Dark Presence, causing Alan to black out. Regaining consciousness a week later, we soon discover the events within Alan’s own manuscript (Departure) are coming to life, though he has no memory of writing it.
Looking to save Alice, Alan quickly discovers the Dark Presence has begun enveloping Bright Falls, possessing numerous townsfolk with a dark force. Known as the “Taken”, these murderous individuals try to hunt you down at night, carrying weapons whilst also possessing ravens and animated objects. As such, we’ll be investigating this mystery across eight different chapters, between an episodic format.
Getting past the Taken isn’t as simple as just shooting your way through. They’re initially shielded by darkness, making them invulnerable to your weapons. Removing that shield requires a light source and using Alan’s flashlight, aiming this at Taken gradually destroys. You can boost a flashlight’s power with the left trigger, but it’ll drain your flashlight’s battery. Batteries slowly recharge and if you can’t hang on, Alan can insert new batteries, which are found across town. There’s plenty of flares too for a wider effect.
A Washington Nightmare
Once the shield’s destroyed, Taken are vulnerable to weapons, so don’t waste your ammo until then. Finding no end of revolvers, shotguns, hunting rifles and more, flare guns and flashbangs are available too for crowd control, which don’t require a shield break. If a Taken gets too close, Alan can perform a slow-motion dodge manoeuvre. I do wish Alan had more defensive options, but combat was incredibly entertaining, offering a unique approach to gunplay I’ve not previously seen in games.
Outside of combat, you’ll find yourself frequently exploring the mountains. Between some minor puzzle solving, dodging environmental hazards, the occasional driving sequences and more, there’s plenty to do. Notably, players can (optionally) find manuscript pages that fully detail Alan’s novel - though some are exclusive to the game’s hardest difficulty - giving you a new insight into proceedings.
Utilising radios, TVs, and signs to convey Bright Falls history, I’d personally call Alan Wake some of the best environmental storytelling I’ve ever seen in gaming, even 11 years after launch. Remedy pulled it off beautifully, complimenting an already gripping story that had me hooked until the end, which provided a novel twist (pun intended) on that classic light versus darkness struggle. Granted, Alan himself isn’t especially likeable initially, but you’ll witness genuine character growth from start to finish.
A Familiar Face?
Now, if you’ve played Alan Wake previously, you may wonder whether Remastered’s changed anything’s and mostly, that’s a no. We’ve got the two DLC chapters bundled in - The Signal and The Writer – though the game’s standalone follow-up, American Nightmare, is missing. However, there’s a new commentary track from writer Sam Lake, Alan’s got a new character model and Remedy’s removed the original version’s product placement.
Otherwise, AWR's changes are mostly technical, boasting 4K resolutions and 60 frames-per-second gameplay. Unfortunately, cutscenes noticeably stuttered throughout Remastered - for reference, this occurred even after update 1.000.003 deployed – and for a story-driven game, that’s a significant problem. That visible stuttering was jarring but thankfully, direct gameplay maintained a steady framerate.
The Verdict: Is Alan Wake Remastered Worth It?
Alan Wake was already considered an exceptional game and over a decade later, this adventure holds up strong. Finding myself completely captivated, Remedy left me wanting more, even after completing the DLC. It’s regrettable that Remastered’s cutscenes have problems and I hope they can be patched, but ultimately, it’s a fine job. If you’re a fan of mystery thrillers, I cannot recommend Alan Wake Remastered highly enough.
PS5 review copy provided by the publisher.