Adam Wake: Best Game Ever Played, Like Ever, No Joke

Ben Harthun/The Jibsheet
Ben Harthun/The Jibsheet

About a year ago, back when the acclaimed survival-horror game “Dead Space” came out, I gave it a try. In my room, alone at night with the lights off, I turned my Xbox 360 on and entered the shoes of an engineer exploring an alien-infested ship.
30 minutes later, the console is off, the lights are on, and I’ve got the covers pulled up to my eyes. Needless to say, I was far too scared to continue playing.
I will be the first to admit that horror games are my bane. My kryptonite. My Achilles heel. So when I saw how awesome Alan Wake, the most recent game by Remedy (the makers of the successful “Max Payne” series) looked, I was very sad.
“It looks so good,” I thought, “but it also looks rather terrifying. There’s no way I’ll be able to play it.”
But as time went on and “Alan Wake” looked better and better, I became more and more determined to play this game. So when I finally got my hands on it, I did all I could to make it as un-scary as possible. I played only during the day, with the lights on, while someone else was in the room. And dear lord, am I glad that I did.
Labeled as a psychological action thriller, the game more than lives up to its name. Drawing on various sources for story and feel, such as “Lost,” the “X Files,” “Twin Peaks,” and anything ever written by Stephen King, the game is action-packed, thrilling, and has quite the psychological bent to it. Allow me to explain…
The first words uttered in the game are “Stephen King once said…” Already off to a fantastic start. It then gets better as you find out that you play the part of best-selling writer Alan Wake, on vacation to the idyllic   small Washington (represent!) town of Bright Falls. On his first night in the town, his wife is kidnapped, and he loses consciousness. He awakes at the wheel of a crashed car one week later, with no memory of the past seven days.
As he stumbles about in the dark woods, he discovers a page of manuscript.
The page is that he apparently wrote but does not remember writing. The page details how he will be attacked by an axe-wielding psychopath shrouded with some sort of living darkness, and sure enough, he is attacked. As the story unfolds, it goes according to a plot he apparently wrote, one which spells disaster for the small town.
The story is one of the best I have ever seen in a video game. I would love to tell you exactly why it is so fantastic, but to do so would spoil it, and I refuse to do that. Let’s just say it is ridiculously fantastic, shall we?
And the combat… in order to defeat the enemies known as the “Taken,” you have to burn the enshrouding darkness off of them with a flashlight, rendering them vulnerable to pistol rounds, shotgun shot, and a hefty dose of a hunting rifle. While this sounds like it would quickly get dull, it really doesn’t. Instead, it makes the combat just a bit more terrifying, because being surrounded by a bunch of enemies that are completely unaffected by your attacks is pretty damn awful.
The game progresses in an episodic
format, with a “Last time on ‘Alan Wake’ segment at the beginning of each new chapter to recap the story so far. As I said, the game is partially based off of shows like “Twin Peaks.” Thank the gods that the soundtrack isn’t. Instead, several original songs combined with several classic songs (“Put da lime in da coconut…”) make up a really great soundtrack. And once you play the chapter involving the rock stage, you will understand why I want the song “Children of the Elder God” as the soundtrack to my life.
This may be my new favorite game. Ever. And though I (obviously) have not played all the games that will come out this year, I can almost guarantee you that this will be my personal pick for Game of the Year. I give “Alan Wake” a 10 of 10.