Alan Wake Remastered | PS5 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Over a decade after the original Alan Wake was release on XBox 360, developers Remedy Entertainment are back with Alan Wake Remastered, bringing the amazing adventure and favourite of many to a far wider audience than it has previously been available to. Published by Epic Games and currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and XBox, this remastered edition features upgraded graphics and textures alongside the two DLC’s. For the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
To preface this review, I’m a total newcomer to Alan Wake. I had heard about it, I was always keen to play it however I just never got the chance so I am approaching this game with fresh eyes unlike a lot of the people covering this game. I think it allowed me to experience the wonderful narrative from a different perspective and in the end, I was (and still am) truly thankful that this remaster now exists.
Alan Wake, voiced by Matthew Porretta, is a best-selling author suffering from the bane of any writer's existence - writer's block. After advice from his agent, Barry Wheeler, Alan and his wife Alice decide to go on what they hoped would be a relaxing getaway and retreat in a scenic mountain town known as Bright Falls. On the way there, Alan's nightmare really begins as he has his first nightmare about shadow figures trying to kill him. On arrival in Bright Falls, Alan and Alice make their way to what is supposed to be a beautiful, serene log cabin and this is where it all goes wrong. After an argument, Alan storms out of the cabin and turns back to see his wife Alice being dragged into the lake surrounding them - thus begins the gripping adventure of Alan trying to figure out what the hell happened to his beloved wife and how he can save her. The plot is incredibly intricate and this barely even scratches the surface really; however I’d like to leave this spoiler free and allow anyone interested in the game to learn and appreciate all these things for themselves because my mind was absolutely blown by each twist and turn as I wandered my way through the dark forest, unravelling piece by piece the intricate and winding story that was unfolding by the minute. You’ll spend the majority of your time traversing through forest areas fighting off enemies known as Taken. You will end up with a decent range of weapons to use throughout the game, however the most powerful weapon against darkness is quite obviously - light. Taken are practically indestructible until you weaken them with light so gathering resources such as flares, torch batteries and flashbangs at every opportunity will be the ultimate help in surviving the horrors that Bright Falls has to offer you. Resources are relatively limited and at some points I felt unfairly so. Overall, I managed to breeze through a lot of the game without major difficulty, but in a few spots resources such as light sources and ammunition were so scarce that I really struggled to get through some places. In general, however, I would characterise myself as a looter and hoarder, so much so that the scarcity of resources wasn’t too much of an issue and didn’t really hinder my enjoyment of the game as a whole.
When this was initially announced, it was NOT announced as a total remake and overhaul of the original game meaning that the developers have maintained the physics and mechanics from the original release. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard repeatedly from long-time fans of the game is that the combat was quite clunky and challenging. Whilst this certainly still rings true for the remaster, it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I found the aim assist to be quite heavy which really compensated for the slightly clunky movement. I’d say the worst part of the mechanics for me was trying to nail the dodging. I found myself failing more often than not so I’d typically opt for using flares and flashbangs a lot which allowed me to keep a decent distance, but still weaken enemies quickly leaving me free to dispatch them with my revolver or shotgun. As previously mentioned, I’m not approaching this game nor this review from the perspective of someone whos replaying the game so for me I’d say my biggest criticism is it would have been nice to bring the combat a little more into 2021 and provide a little bit more fluid motion. But the fact that the developers maintained everything from the original really speaks volumes about the confidence that they have in the original game and really, whilst a lot of people may complain, I didn’t find the slight clunky game play to be a deal breaker for me as I was so heavily invested in the storyline and the exposition that I really didn’t care. All that said though, I actually think I got on quite well with the combat overall and rarely was I blaming game mechanics for struggling in areas.
There is a massive amount of world-building and lore provided throughout Alan Wake Remastered. There are televisions dotted around Bright Falls that play episodes of a TV show called Night Falls which instantly reminded me of The Twilight Zone and totally sucked me in and made this world feel even more real to me than it already was. There are also radios that play the local radio station so you can hear other characters' perspectives as they hear the absolute insanity that is starting to unfold around them. These things combined really brought the story to life for me and shows the clear depth that there is to Alan’s story.
As you meander through the darkness and ward off Taken, Alan is constantly narrating himself and thinking out loud which allowed me to feel a real connection to Alan Wake as a character. I’m certainly not a best selling author, but as someone who has always been quite creative I’ve noticed that's a common trait amongst creative folks of all varieties and so I really felt like I was spending time living in the disturbed and tormented mind of Alan Wake. The character development was just top quality and these small nuances never went unnoticed or unappreciated by me.
I’ve read a lot of very mixed opinions on Alan Wake Remastered. The most poignant for me was reading a headline that was as follows, “Alan Wake Remastered struggles to justify its own existence” and quite frankly - I could NOT agree less with this statement than I do. Firstly, Remedy Entertainment has created a really intricate world here that has never been available to PlayStation owners. I truly believe that Alan Wake is an adventure and story that you really have to experience and it really is a treat and without this remaster myself and a large amount of others wouldn’t have the chance to experience. With that being said, I appreciated that they maintained the same physics and such as the original release because I feel it gives us new fans of the series a genuine taste of the game that so many originally fell in love with. Equally as well, Alan Wake 2 has been teased and is also teased through QR codes that are found dotted throughout the game so it means that there will be a far greater audience eagerly awaiting the return of the tortured writer. I may be a PlayStation 5 gamer primarily, however one of the most toxic and damaging things for gamers is the neverending console war and how many exceptional games people on all sides of the spectrum are missing out on. Whilst there are no choices that affect the storyline, I would say there is some replayability in Alan Wake because there are pages of Alan’s manuscripts dotted around that act as further exposition to the story and some of these are only available to be collected on Nightmare difficulty. Also, the game is so deep that for me personally I feel I may need at least one more playthrough before everything makes total sense and is in order for me which speaks volumes about the quality of storytelling presented to us that even with the fairly linear gameplay, I still feel so invested that I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Alan Wake yet.
Overall, I truly adored this game. The very slight irritations that I have aren’t really enough to dampen my enjoyment and it's fully possible to work past the slight negative aspects and totally fall in love. I’ve always felt quite on the fence about playing Control which has Alan Wake DLC and has lots of nods towards Alan Wake however now I feel the polar opposite and I’m now also eagerly awaiting news of Alan Wake 2 and will welcome it into my game collection as soon as possible. If you're an existing fan of Alan Wake, I think this remaster will be a wonderful way to revisit and remember your love for the story or if you're like me and you're a newcomer, you’ll be able to appreciate the upgraded graphics whilst also being able to feel like the integrity of the original release has been maintained as sometimes remasters can feel slightly in-authentic to the original game making me feel slightly disconnected from the series.
Lj’s Rating: 5 lost manuscripts out of 5.
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Many thanks to Edelman for the Review Key.