Okay, I have to admit it. This game has got some serious chops. I've played it off and on this week, and I've gotten totally creeped out. The atmosphere, the music, the story development -- all of that works to pull me into the fog-shrouded forest where Alan Wake has to fight off the Taken (shadow creatures with axes) with nothing more than a flashlight and (usually) a revolver.
I try to play an episode a night. There are only six. But I'm crushing a deadline and haven't had the time. I'm on Episode Three right now, and I'm getting my butt slammed by a possessed bulldozer that reminds me a lot of the old Theodore Sturgeon short story "Killdozer!" that got made into a creepy Clint Walker film back in the 1970s. The film was called Killdozer, and it was a trip. It also got made into a Marvel Comics issue.
Theodore Sturgeon was only 25 or 26 when he wrote the story back in 1944, so I assume his Tonka toy phase hadn't quite worn off and had become incredibly twisted. Now I'm getting flashbacks from my childhood.
This game has got me all twisted up. On one hand, the Taken are so creepy that I dread when the sun goes down in the game. On the other hand, the mysteries are so sharp and the stakes so high, that I have trouble walking away.
Last night with the possessed bulldozer, I finally had to lay the controller down and walk away because my spirit's willing but my adrenaline-addled flesh just couldn't save me on-screen. My 12 year old has gotten farther than me, but even he has trouble staying in the same room with me when the game is on. Not because it's boring, but because he knows all the spots the Taken will jump out and he gets creeped all over again. I don't mind dying in the game. Chandler doesn't like it. But the Taken just trigger my fight/flight instinct like a four-alarm fire bell.
And there's downloadable content coming for this game! It's not going to be over for some time. This is one of the best games storywise I have ever seen. I normally love first-person shooters the most, but I've never found a game as immersive as Alan Wake.
Try it. I guarantee at some point you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat with creepy music playing all around you -- and you'll duck shadows on your way to bed.