Alan Wake was originally touted as a showcase of PC gaming technology until Microsoft decided that it would make a fine Xbox 360 exclusive. And since Microsoft was the publisher, Microsoft got what they wanted and PC gamers were left out. Almost two years passed until all the sudden Remedy announced that they would be self-publishing Alan Wake on the PC. Finally we'd get to play it with a mouse, as it was always meant to be played - Xbox version be damned.
While we'll probably never get the w 21b4 hole story, it is likely that the popularity of Steam and the resurgence of indie PC publishing was a major factor for the surprise appearance of PC Alan Wake - without such a channel there was no way Remedy could have self-published the PC version and it has been painfully obvious for a good while that Microsoft gaming division doesn't care one bit about PC gaming.
While many have already experienced the story of Alan Wake on the Xbox 360, I chose not to buy it, mostly as a statement with my wallet towards Microsoft and platform exclusives in general. I was still mildly curious about it and ended up playing a borrowed copy for less than an hour before giving up. Sure, it looked very good for an Xbox 360 title but low resolution visuals and pad controls in a game that expected you to be constantly looking around for hidden secrets with a flashlight just drove me nuts.
I never expected to see the game on the PC and had already resigned that I'd never get to follow the interesting story. Well, Remedy pulled a rabbit out of their hat and as soon as I heard the news, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it on a proper gaming platform. So I went in having played only part of the first episode and while I had heard bits and pieces about the storyline being a complex multilayered "grown-up" piece of horror drama, it turns out mere words cannot do justice describing the story of Alan Wake. You just simply have to play it yourself to understand.
PC Launch Trailer
"Alan, Wake Up"
After a short tutorial dream sequence that introduces some basic gameplay elements, the story picks up as Alan and his wife Alice arrive to the idyllic town of Bright Falls. Alan is a famous writer that hasn't written a thing for two years and while nominally they are on a vacation, Alice had bought along a typewriter hoping that Alan might get an inspiration to write a new book during their stay.
Well, Bright Falls is no ordinary little town - what was supposed to be a quiet vacation at an idyllic lake takes a bizarre turn as soon as the sun sets. As the action starts properly, Alice is missing, Alan can't remember a thing about the past week and some truly strange things are going on as a mysterious dark presence is taking over the locals and causing all kinds of inanimate objects to become possessed. Oh, and there are these pages of a manuscript with Alan's name on the title page that he cannot remember ever writing - pages that often describe events that have not yet happened. It really must be a dream, right? Ah, if things were that simple...
The game is split up to six episodes - nice bite-sized chapters that each take perhaps two hours to play - and the idea here is to imitate a television series. There are cliffhangers and new episodes start with a recap of the story so far. With all the twists and turns, those recaps are quite useful. There are layers upon layers to the story of Alan Wake and while the story eventually does reach a conclusion on one level, it just leaves you wanting for more.
The PC version comes complete with two pieces of DLC content ("The Signal" and "The Writer") that were released separately on the Xbox 360 and while they do supply a quick fix of more for another couple of hours, ultimately they'll just mess you up with more layers... The DLC "specials" expect that you have completed the main story and should not be touched until then or you'll just end up mighty confused... Well, scratch that - no matter what, you'll end up confused and it definitely takes another playthrough to catch all the little details and seemingly innocent things that were all there, in plain sight - you just had no idea...
Take it for what it is worth; I haven't been so thoroughly messed up by a "simple" horror-mystery storyline since... ever? If you also happen to be so blessed that you haven't spoiled the details of the story in advance - perhaps because you are a card-carrying member of the PC Gaming Master Race that doesn't concern itself with details about games not available on the PC - just take my word for it: You want to play Alan Wake just for the story alone and you don't want to be spoiled before you do so.
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