Like Diablo II (in a completely different genre), Alan Wake offers himself a remaster worthy of the name. It is always a video game nightmare, mixing action of good behavior and controlled narration. For PlayStation gamers, this is mostly a brand new game.
“Nightmares are not logical and explaining them would be pointless, it would be contrary to the poetry of fear. Alan Wake Remastered begins with a quote from Stephen King. A wise choice to instill a feeling of unease in those who dare to venture there. Xbox fans are no doubt familiar with this video game developed by Remedy (the excellent Control), since it was once an Xbox 360 exclusive before being ported to PC. Now it’s remastered under the auspices of Epic Games (Fortnite) and for the first time for PlayStation gamers.
So this is a godsend for the PS4 and PS5 community. Also available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, Alan Wake Remastered comes as a stylish bonus, updating a tasty mix of storytelling and action. Inside, a best-selling author with blank page syndrome finds himself mired in a dark story, looking for his missing wife (who is afraid of the dark) in a remote town reminiscent of the Twin Peaks series (the cult series of David Lynch). One of the benchmarks among many.
The original version of Alan Wake featured ads for several brands: Verizon, Ford and Energizer. They were removed in this remaster, since contracts expired, Screen Rant reveals in an article published on September 8.
Stephen King, Twin Peaks, Shining, Alfred Hitchcock,… Throughout the adventure, references to other works are constant. Alan Wake Remastered quotes a lot, but does so with 100% assumption. Objects that come to life? The hero is surprised to find descriptions he has read in books by Stephen King. Thermos of coffee in collectibles? Dale Cooper makes this drink a ritual in Twin Peaks. So much for the material. It comes to life in Twin Peaks-like settings (both peaceful and frightening), with a staging sometimes reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick (we think of aerial travelings). It might sound like a lot for one game, but we have to admit that it all fits together.
Admittedly, the storytelling is masterfully managed by Remedy. The studio knows how to tell compelling stories and offer thoughtful little side steps (example: turning on a jukebox to please another protagonist). Admittedly, the division into episodes – with a small summary each time – may seem a little out of date in 2021 (remember that the game dates from 2010). But it is undeniably part of the charm. Alan Wake Remastered takes us from mystery to mystery, all centered on a main character whose true inner demons are difficult to guess. Like the paths he takes, Alan Wake appears as a tortured hero. Besides, don’t hesitate to read all the pages you pick up. They allow a somewhat opaque intrigue to be deepened.
To say that Alan Wake has aged in over 10 years is an understatement. So he really needed a makeover. This Alan Wake Remastered wants to honor the original version. The graphics in 4K (on PS5) result in a satisfactory rendering, built on an advantageous technical base (60 fps). The lighting effects, which are very involved in the gameplay, as well as those related to the haze are to die for. The depth of field, sometimes dizzying, and the beautiful textures come to nourish even more detailed environments.
Maybe lovers of the first Alan Wake will not recognize the hero. He does sport a new face, ultimately closer to the features of the actor he is inspired by. It’s a bit confusing, especially since we’re not sure the game really wins. Facial expressions are more precise, but less natural due to the somewhat rigid animations. The hero’s movements sometimes resemble those of a puppet. These inconveniences betray the age of Alan Wake and the desire not to alter anything in the skeleton of the game. That is the hallmark of remasterings.
Alan Wake Remastered brings together the base game and its two expansions (“The Signal” and “The Writer”). Enough to prolong the fun.
The gameplay of Alan Wake Remastered revolves around one core element: the use of light to defend against darkness. During his wanderings, the writer is attacked by nightmarish forms, whether human or derived from objects. To fight them, he must first enlighten them – a more original process than just aiming / shooting. Flashlight (recharged by picking up batteries), public infrastructures, distress flares, blinding grenades… There is no shortage of means at its disposal. So much the better since Alan’s life bar tends to melt quickly when he is hit by these different forms of evil. It is, however, a pity that the palette of enemies is struggling to renew itself over the six chapters.
Alan Wake Remastered mixes daytime and nighttime portions. During the day, Alan is fairly quiet and can take the time to explore Bright Falls – the place where he thought he was resting with his dear and sweet – and its surroundings. It’s at night that his worst nightmares appear. The experience therefore ceaselessly navigates between those moments of peace, which set up a form of false routine, and moments of high tension (when Alan must escape his pursuers). Here again, we can highlight a great mastery on the part of Remedy, which applies the principle of calm before the storm. The studio has not invented anything, but with its baggage of strong references, it imagines a memorable adventure. As a reminder, Remedy reiterated this feat with Control, with a high level artistic direction.
Basically, Alan Wake has withstood the ravages of time rather well. And if the saga has been put on hold for many years, here it is again on the alert with a silversmith remaster. Beyond the graphics more in line with current standards, Alan Wake Remastered is above all a boon for PlayStation players, who have always been deprived of the title developed by Remedy.
Under good conditions, they will then discover a well-written story, very referenced and accurately staged. At the same time, they will enjoy the gameplay which focuses on smarter and more original fights than usual. In short, Alan Wake Remastered is part of the line of remasterings that do honor to the ancestor, in order to convert more and more people. A bit opportunistic, of course, but the job is well done.
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