Alan Wake Remastered Review
An Xbox 360 classic returns better than ever on next-gen hardware to deliver excellent storytelling, spooky thrills and chills all in stunning 4K, my full review.
When Remedy Games released Alan Wake in 2010, they really broke the mold with the narrative experience. It’s not quite an action game, nor a survival horror scare factory, it sits within its own wonderful thriller niche. It’s more nuanced in terms of the mystery and paranormal activity surrounding its lead character in Alan Wake.
It’s far and away one of my favorite Xbox 360-era titles, from its gripping story to chilling environments, there’s a lot to love about the unique experience the game offers. I was very excited to hear that Remedy and Epic were teaming up to bring the game back for a new generation. After experiencing Alan Wake Remasteredthere is a lot for both new and old players to enjoy. After 11 years it’s time to return to Bright Falls and see if the scares still hold up.
Alan Wake Remastered details
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox Series S | X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC Reviewed On: Xbox Series X Developer: Remedy Entertainment Publisher: Epic Games Publishing Genre: Third-person shooter Modes: Single player ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Story – A deep, dark ocean
The story follows novelist Alan Wake as he searches for his missing wife in the town of Bright Falls. Things really start getting scary when the plot of his latest horror novel starts to unfold around him. He now must contend with evil supernatural forces as he tries to unravel the mystery around his wife’s disappearance.
Darkness has possessed many of the locals transforming them into bloodthirsty killers known as “The Taken.” Their only weakness is the light, something you are trying to always find for a brief respite from the horror. Whether it be your trusty flashlight, a flare, or a streetlamp it’s the first essential line of defence from the darkness.
"The game builds on the tension and fear of the player as Alan falls deeper into the narrative of his own story."
The game builds on the tension and fear of the player as Alan falls deeper into the narrative of his own story. The experience is structured like a television show, when you start each new chapter, it sums up the action thus far. It all plays into the game’s unique narrative within a narrative storytelling that has you questioning reality right up to the very end. The game takes heavy cues from Stephen King, The X-Files and The Twilight Zone, delivering an experience that more than holds its own next to these titans of terror. The story is hard to put down and is far and away the biggest highlight to the entire experience.
The biggest notable difference in Alan Wake Remastered is the graphical upgrade. The creepy vistas of Bright Falls now enjoy 4K visuals at a solid 60 fps. The particle effects look better than ever, with fog that has a life of its own now adding even more atmosphere to already creepy areas. The explosions from flares also spark with a new brilliance casting individual shadows while scattering glowing hot embers into the dark sky. The game looks great, especially when it comes to exploring environments.
"The creepy vistas of Bright Falls now enjoy 4K visuals at a solid 60 fps."
Unfortunately, character models especially in cutscenes need more attention. They still look quite stiff, even with layers of new 4K textures adorning them. Outside of character models, it’s still definitely worth a play through on more modern hardware.
Alan’s new bag of tricks
Players old and new will enjoy experiencing the story beats whether for a first, or a second time. If you are a veteran returning for extra content, unfortunately it is a little sparse. As a fan of the original, I really enjoyed the inclusion of the new developer commentary tracks. It shed some interesting light on the game’s development, level design and other interesting tidbits. The extra developer audio tracks stand alone as the biggest new addition to the Remastered game’s package.
"The extra developer audio tracks stand alone as the biggest new addition to the Remastered game’s package."
You also get a few pieces of DLC packed in with two expansions: The Signal and The Writer. It’s a nice inclusion, and some added value but it doesn’t add any new additions for 2021
Much of the odd product placement from the first iteration is gone, no more Energizer Batteries or Verizon ads to be found. Instead, they have been replaced with QR codes, that when scanned with your real-world smartphone connect you to a YouTube video series that adds a little more to the story. Despite some of these additions as a big fan of the series I was hoping for more in the way of new content.
Gameplay – Batteries not included
Much of the Alan Wake experience has seen some excellent visual upgrades, but the gameplay remains stuck in the past. On the plus side, there is fun in the simplicity to Wake’s arsenal, its refreshing not to have to deal with a bloated inventory and complicated upgrade trees.
"there is fun in the simplicity to Wake’s arsenal, its refreshing not to have to deal with a bloated inventory and complicated upgrade trees. "
There are a few “traditional weapons” like a revolver, shotgun and hunting rifle but this selection is quite limited. This especially true when comparing the game to more modern shooters. The absence of a variety of weapons makes enemy encounters get repetitive quite quickly. Nothing here is “game breakingly” different from the 2010 controls, but it could have used more of an overhaul to match modern gameplay mechanics.
Final thoughts – A horror classic returns
Alan Wake is a timeless classic that should be experienced by horror game buffs. The engrossing story is the key highlight, packed with twists and cliff hangers that make it hard to put down. The Remastered visuals look great, especially when it comes to in-game action. The cutscenes and character models still look quite dated which hampers the excellent storytelling experience. After so much time passed since last playing the original game, I did enjoy replaying the experience. That being said, there is very little new content besides the upgraded visuals and developer commentary. It’s great to see Wake make a return for a new generation, players new to the experience are sure to be delighted. Returning fans might be looking for a little more, but will definitely enjoy the nostalgia of returning to Bright Falls at its most beautiful and terrifying.
Alan Wake Remastered PROS
+ Beautiful, upgraded visuals running at 4K, 60fps
+ Story is like an excellent novel that is hard to put down
+ Extra DLC packed in with two expansions: The Signal and The Writer
+ Inclusion of developer commentary added some great tidbits around game’s creation
Alan Wake Remastered CONS
- Combat arsenal is limited, with very few upgrade options
- Character models in cutscenes look very stiff
- Would be ideal to see newer content added to the experience
Overall Rating: 32/40 (80%)
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.