Alan Wake was a unique experience for me. I’ve never played like it before and I haven’t played one quite like it until Remedy’s follow-up Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. It feels very much like an Alan Wake game but they don’t retread the same narration style and infuse enough fixes and tweaks to the formula to create a worthy stand-in while we wait for a full fledge sequel.
American Nightmare was framed like an episode of the Twilight Zone inspired fictional show Night Springs. Alan Wake somehow ended up in rural Arizona and has to figure out how to seal away the darkness and escape from the clutches of his doppelgänger, Mr. Scratch.
Alan Wake serves its narrative through conversations with characters and the readings of pages. American Nightmare continues that trend but they also emphasize the use of full motion video in cutscenes and the in-game television screens. Mr. Scratch starred in these videos and he lit up the screen with his disturbing and charming demeanors. They weren’t the most well acted videos however they work within the context of Night Springs and I find them both endearing and entertaining.
The game moved at brisk paced and I began to worry that I would finish it too quickly when I reached the third area within the hour. I had no idea how many areas there and since it was a downloadable title, I couldn’t imagine there were that many. Fortunately, a narrative reason threw Alan Wake back in time a couple of times which forced him to revisit those three areas. There Alan Wake faced deja vu moments but also new twists on established patterns. I never quite knew what to expect.
Frantic scrambling and paranoid spinning of the camera was commonplace before and it continued with American Nightmare. They added new weapons and enemies, gave Alan Wake more stamina so he could sprint more but I still felt I was surviving encounters by a hair’s breath.
I don’t believe Alan Wake’s American Nightmare will convert anyone who was not already a fan. It’s for the Alan Wake fan like myself and it reaffirmed the notion that this franchise is properly unorthodox. It may be a stop gap game but it successfully reignited my desire for a full fledge sequel. Hopefully we will see one announced this year.
For fans only
For more information on Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, visit the official website.
2010 PC Rev. 1.2 was used to play Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.