Alan Wake Remastered Review

I’ll begin by addressing the fact that I am a HUGE Alan Wake fan, but I do strive to be as unbiased as possible in my reviews. That being said, I had the privilege to play Alan Wake Remastered over a decade after the original debuted on the Xbox 360 as an exclusive title developed by Remedy. Later after Remedy had released more games with Xbox Studios, Remedy managed to purchase the rights back and now have released the game on all platforms with this remaster thanks to the service provided by D3T Ltd. Meaning this is PlayStation’s first experience with the game, unless they managed to play it on PC or on Xbox previously. This is major news for fans of the series since we can assume a sequel to Alan Wake is around the corner thanks to teasers in Remedy’s previous new game, Control. Moving away from my game theories and into the content of this Remaster, what changed?

The visuals for this remaster were the biggest difference between the generations. The general environment, textures, lighting, smoke effects, and character models have been improved significantly. There is one catch to that though, All the character models with the exception of Alan Wake look more realistic. Every character has updated hair, facial features, and better functioning eye movement. Alan was the odd exception to this upgrade, and fans will be able to spot the difference when comparing his face to the cardboard cutout of Alan in the Oh’Deer Diner. This change is due to the developers who helped with the remaster making Alan’s character look more like that of the actor who plays him and appears more sculpted. It looks more like Shepard from Mass Effect and has a general baby face. Apart form Alan looking different in the face, all the other characters benefit from this updated model improvement. I played on an Xbox Series S which was capable of rendering at 1080p at 60 FPS. The Xbox Series X  and PS5 however will be able to provide the clearest image rendering at 1440p at 60 FPS unless using PC, where details will be more visible from a distance. The game does have minor lighting issues which will show more in cutscenes than gameplay fortunately. During cutscenes the visuals will look even better, but sometimes when the camera is moving across great distances it can flash light in odd spots. Meaning the game will occasionally flicker. This issue was only noticeable when I was watching the opening or ending cutscene or was in the well-lit room in episode 5.

The original 360 version runs 544p at 30fps so the increase in frame rate hasn’t appeared to altered how the AI function or changed the difficulty of the game. The gameplay for Alan Wake follows a famous fictional writer who is suffering from writer’s block. Alan and his wife, Alice, go on a vacation to get away from the city and not think about work. Due to their vacation destination being Bright Falls, WA, Alan finds himself trapped by a dark presence in their cabin writing, trying to save his wife. The lake the cabin resides on is a special place that can make art come to life, but is infused with darkness with malice intent. This presence that can steal and embody others by killing them and uses the darkness as armor. Alan, a non-hero type character, must fight off these Taken by use of a flashlight and a weapon and sometimes run from battle. Since he is only a writer, the sprinting is limited until he becomes out of breath. Peeling off the armor of darkness on an enemy with a flashlight, then allows them to be injured.

The story is the major feature this game has. I love the story written by Sam Lake infused with likeness form other famous pop culture like Twin Peaks, this game is a cult classic and the story is why. The atmosphere of running through the forest of State Washington at night with enemies lurking in the dark is a true thrill, they could leap out and easily team up on the player taking them out quickly. The genre description given by Remedy for the game is a Psychological Thriller with shooter aspects. It’s unique and vastly different from other games and warrants a play regardless of remaster or not for the story alone.

The key plot point that is revealed at the beginning of the game is that these writings are coming true and Alan must survive and follow the story as it was written. Avoiding as much of the story as possible for newcomers, I won’t summarize any more than what I have. The premise of the game is to save your wife and we see how Alan suffers from the consequences of his actions by fighting against the Dark Presence. The cast of characters in the game really help build the small-town idyllic viewpoint and make the game lovable. Alan’s agent writer Barry Wheeler comes to his aid and we meet the Sheriff and a local celebrity in the first episode of 6 for the game. The DLC from the original has returned and continues Alan’s Story and provides more clarity for those who finish the game. Alan Wake’s story is delivered in episodic format with cutscenes that will appear at the end and beginning of each section.

The audio for Alan Wake has stood the test of time and still holds true to the original, not much at all has been altered to the sound of the game. The voice narration holds firm throughout the story and doesn’t sound cheesy. Alan will occasionally chime in with his own narration speaking on irony and delivers plot. The soundtrack for the game, including the original score composed by Petri Alanko, and the game’s soundtrack of supporting songs have both returned. The game features a beautiful orchestra score that span over an hour and thirteen minutes. The score is moving and emphasizes the atmosphere of Alan Wake even more, highlighting emotional moments during the story. When running through the woods, loud wind will swoosh around alerting the player they are in an area that will spawn enemies. It’s the goal of the player to make it through either as quick as possible or look around for the games 200+ collectibles and fight off enemies. Certain collectibles also emit a small noise to help find them, but they are unique to the DLC. The song selections that aren’t a part of the score play at the end of episodes typically or are played on the Radio’s scattered through the game. Having those same song rights to be included in the remaster was an important feature, each song is picked to fit the tone of the part of story and are intentional. The sound design in Alan Wake is closer to perfection than anything else I could mention in this review.

The longevity for Alan Wake depends if you’re a fan returning or a newcomer looking for a new experience. The game will take around 25 hours if the person is wanting a 100% run earning all achievements or trophies, but if just looking to enjoy the story once then it will be roughly a 10-hour game including both Specials. Being a story driven game, not many will play it through repeatedly since its very linear. Before the remaster released, I would go back every year to play the original since Its my favorite 360 game and was able to find another small detail I missed in the story. The game has a very high-quality story that comes off as well polished, but people will find the general movement annoying since Alan becomes winded after a light jog. The lack of aiming reticules and suspense isn’t tailored to everyone. If you ever had enjoyed any Survival Horror game and want a thrilling experience, I would easily recommend this title to just anyone. For Xbox veterans, give it a try on 360 first, this remaster does serve the game justice visually, but the experience will be the same on the original. There was an amazing addition in QR codes scattered in the game and each link to a video on YouTube that provide more modern timeline content for our main character.

Conclusion

The changes in Alan Wake Remastered are more positive than negative. This seems to be D3T’s best remaster efforts so far comparing their work on Mafia 2 and Shenmue 1&2. There are reports of issues on PC, but for consoles this is a safe purchase. If you missed out on playing this game then it is a must play for horror fans. The gameplay is thrilling when the player can manage to dodge. The camera zoom in’s slow down time and allow for quick responses in certain situations. The weapons feel strong, but the armor of darkness around an enemy makes them seem even stronger. The difficulties were renamed and are now Easy, Normal, Nightmare (originally Normal, Hard, Nightmare). Minor changes have been made to the game, but visually this is a masterpiece and adds value to the already beloved story. Overlooking issues with Alan’s baby face, general lighting, this remaster has very few issues to cover. I never experienced a crash; I did manage to get stuck in a spot in a bookstore, but jumped my way out. This title is a true example of a game being considered art. The use of loops, light vs darkness themes, the music and score, all whilst building a lovable cast of characters makes it a memorable game. I would consider this remaster a general success with the exception for PC, consoles seem to be running the game with only one serious known issue that should be fixed soon.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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Good
  • Stunning Audio
  • Thrilling gameplay and tough enemies when outnumbered
  • Enthralling Story and Characters
  • Upgraded FPS and Resolution
Bad
  • Alan Wake’s face looks oddly different
  • Minor bugs and a single texture issue I found
9.6
Excellent
Gameplay - 10
Graphics - 9.5
Audio - 10
Longevity - 9
Written by
Hello, my name is Ross, I live in the United States and love playing Xbox games. There’s almost no better feeling than finishing a fun game and unlocking all the achievements provided. My achievement addiction has led me to play a large variety of games and I love to play any open world or sandbox games. I have a soft spot for survival horror games ranging from Alan Wake to Outlast. I wasn’t always on Xbox, I started back in the summer on 2008 with simply Call of Duty 4 and World at War. Before that, I grew up playing Mario and Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation which is a strange, but a welcome combo. I’m currently 24 years young and also attend undergrad school working on earning my BA in Accounting.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Ross, excellent review. Thank you!

    Reply

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