As this later episode beings Alan stands alone in the woods near a mountain
range. Lighting up the world with a beam from your powerful flashlight
it’s hard not to be stunned by how amazing the lighting is in the game.
Your beam is a constant companion, and one of the most useful weapons in
your fight against the darkness.
Walking around you soon run
across a page from your manuscript and pick it up, reading it as Alan
narrates. The short page tells about your friend (and literary agent) Barry who has
crashed in a helicopter, and rounding the corner from where you found
the page you find that once again your story has come true. An abandoned
wreck of a helicopter sits smoking in the grass before you, and as you
call out for your friends you hear a commotion ahead. Running up around
the corner you come across two of your companions- the sheriff of the town and
Alan’s agent Barry, who are about to be attacked by the shadowy locals. You stride Alan into their midst like a badass, popping a flare as the
world slows down around him and the shadows recede from their figures,
allowing your friends a shot at them.
This is how the enemies
work. Wreathed in shadow they appear invulnerable, but shine a light on them (you can equip various flashlights with different
abilities) and you’ll weaken them up for bullets. You also have a focus
move at your disposal which makes the flashlight
more powerful, at the expense of battery power. Flashlights take
batteries, you see, which are in short supply. Of course, you can simply
use a more deadly weapon, like flares, a flare gun or flashbang grenade, to
take them out much more easily.
You join your companions
who are headed to the top of a giant dam in the river, hunting down a
mysterious figure that claims to have important info for you. Barry is
the comic relief, and at this point in the game he’s taken to wearing a
string of lighted Christmas lights for protection, as well as a head
lamp to shine his way. He compares it to the eye of Mordor, and then
gets embarrassed when his companions stay silent at his enormous
dorkery. The voice acting in the game can seem a bit out of place at times, but the back and forth between the characters is entertaining enough.
As you venture up the hill you fight more and more
enemies, till you come upon an elevator you’ll need to ride to get to
the top of a structure. As you might expect, the elevator’s slow descent
attracts more shadowy creatures and this time your flare gun comes into
play, dispatching a couple of enemies with each shot. The famous bullet
time from Max
Payne somewhat reappears here as the world slows down to show the shadowy
creatures burning with the light and falling apart like a vampire from Blade. It’s quite
satisfying, but you don’t exactly have a lot of flare gun
rounds. The elevator finally opens and you all run onto it, closing the
gate behind you as even more enemies come.
Along the path you
find messages written in light-sensitive paint that other folks have
written for you, and you’re led to a room that’s completely lit up- a
safe room, if you will. Barry and Alice run inside and immediately the
lights go out and the door slams shut, objects smashing down in front, effectively cutting you off from them. They yell from the other side
and you all agree to meet up at the top of the dam.
you’re on your own.
As you make your way around trying to find a
way to rejoin your friends you run across some more terrors in the
night- it’s not just the villagers that have been affected by the
darkness. Wildlife also comes at you, such as the shadowy bird figures
that fly at you from the air, and objects also attack you as if thrown
by some telepathic creature. At one point giant cable spools threaten to
smash you into the ground, till you break them apart with light.
Fortunately you find some new weapons to play with, once coming
across an incredibly useful giant spotlight that you use to fend off oncoming hordes.
the end of this section Alan comes to a wide open area and things
immediately go to hell. Cars slam into the ground all around you and
trap you off, as a whirlwind swarm of flying cars and debris rises up
into the air and slowly advances on you, a giant creature of metal and glass…. and then the episode ends.
thrilling, exciting, and exactly the kind of thing you don’t want to end a demo on. All it did was want me to play the game right now, to
find out what happens in this mysterious story. But I guess I’ll have to
wait like everyone else…
I chatted with Sam Lake briefly
afterwards about the game, and he mentioned that was exactly the kind of
feel he was going for with the cliffhanger ending, something that
reminded you of old tv shows. They claim to be influenced hugely by pop
culture (books, films and tv shows more than video games), with Stephen
King, Twin Peaks and Lost labeled as some of the biggest.
While the game
was originally planned to contain an open sandbox world that let you
explore everywhere, Remedy has chosen to focus on the story and close
the borders a bit. Lake is quick to point out that there are huge
sections of the world to explore at parts, including some driving
sections (the headlights making a good weapon against the darkness), but
they found an open world distracted you from your mission. Not that there aren’t things to find for the more explorative among us- you’ll find manuscripts that reveal more of the story and other useful items hidden all over the world. Once
in a while you’ll have companions to help you along but for the most
part this is a solitary affair- there’s simply nothing like being
abandoned to test the nerves.
I ask him if he’s worried that
people will see portions of this game and not be able to separate it
from its influences, but he isn’t. It’s its own game, he says, and while
people in the know will appreciate the references and inspirations it
will stand up on its own. I’m inclined to agree and quite simply can’t wait to get my hands on it, to explore this strange and shadowy world, to experience it as it’s meant to be experienced- in the dark. But it’ll probably be a good idea to keep a flashlight nearby… just in case.
Alan Wake is now
confirmed for a May 18th release
date. It’s going to have a Teen rating that really betrays how scary it
looks at parts, and there will be a limited edition set that comes with
exclusive in-game audio commentary, a 144 page book that contains an
Alan Wake short story, an audio disc, and some a coupon for future
downloadable content. For now, enjoy this brand new trailer for the