Alan Wake is a video game developed by Remedy Entertainment, the Finnish company behind the Max Payne games. Since it's release, it has spawned several different collector's editions and a mildly successful franchise, such as 2 DLC's, a spin off game and an unannounced game.
Alan Wake is a bestselling crime fiction author who has suffered from writers block for over two years. He has a dream about knocking down a hitchhiker with his car, only for the hitchhiker to disappear before his eyes. With his car wrecked, he makes his way to the nearby lighthouse, only to be attacked by the hitchhiker. Alan encounters the Hitchhiker, only more shadowy. He manages to escape him, only for him to reappear as a tornado. Alan runs across a bridge and runs into Clay Steward who tells him to run into the house. The door closes behind Alan and the tornado turns back into the hitchhiker in front of Clay. He kills Clay with the axe he wields and turns into a Tornado again to try and kill Alan. As Alan gets hurt, a bright light burns the door away and saves him. He helps train Alan for a battle that he is about to face by handing him a gun and a flashlight. He explains that people like the hitchhiker are protected by darkness, which needs to be burned away with light before you can hurt them. The light flies away and Alan fights his way to the lighthouse, only for another tornado to appear. Alan runs to the lighthouse and shuts the door behind him. He walks to the stairs of the lighthouse and looks up at the light, only for it to suddenly switch off. Something then makes it's way down the stairs to attack Alan before he is woken up by his wife Alice.
Alan and Alice arrive at the idyllic small town of Bright Falls to recover Alan's creative flow. The couple is greeted by the friendly townsfolk, namely Pat Maine, the local radio night host, before heading to the Oh Deer Diner goes to pick up their cabin key from Carl Stucky. At the diner, Alan is greeted by the waitress, Rose Marigold, who claims to be Alan’s biggest fan, as well as Rusty, the local Elderwood National Park Ranger, and the Anderson Brothers, members of the band, Old Gods Of Asgard, and current escapees from the Cauldron Lake Lodge. Alan is given a key and instructions on how to get to the cabin. Alan is directed towards the back of the diner where the restrooms are in the hunt for Carl Stucky. The hallway leading to the bathrooms is dark and as Alan begins to walk back there, he is cautioned by an older woman clutching onto a lantern. Alan continues down the hallway anyway and knocks on the male bathroom door, and after no answer he is confronted by a woman wearing a black dress and veil. She informs him that Carl couldn’t make it and gave Alan the keys to the cabin located on Diver's Isle on Cauldron Lake. Alan goes out back to Alice, who is waiting in the car. Right after their car leaves a man (most likely to be Carl Stucky) comes out screaming that they forgot their key. Alan and Alice make their way up to the cabin and get the house ready for their stay. Later on that evening, the couple has an altercation and Alan storms out of the house, knowing that his wife will not follow him as she has a fear of the dark. While standing on the bridge that leads to the cabin, the power in the cabin goes out and Alan hears Alice scream his name. Upon hearing the screaming, Alan runs back into the house only to find that Alice has fallen into the lake and dives in after her. Suddenly, Alan wakes up in his car with his head bleeding due to a car accident. Alan is confused as to how he got there, but decides that he needs to head towards the nearest gas station to phone for help. Unfortunately the gas station isn’t a straight shot from where his car accident is, so he begins to make his way through the woods. During his journey, Alan comes across some manuscript pages. The first page read “Departure”, which was a book that Alan was going to write but never could. The next page describes the protagonist of the story being attacked by an axe murder in the woods at night.
Shortly after finding the manuscript pages, Alan comes to a lumber yard and Carl Stucky. Alan tries to speak to him for help, but realizes when Stucky turns to face him, that he is surrounded by a Dark Presence. People who are taken over by the dark presence are referred to as the Taken. After being attacked by the Taken and eventually having to kill Carl Stucky, Alan arrives at the gas station. On his way in he notices a sign that has the date on it and realizes it's been a week since he jumped in the lake after Alice. Inside, Alan calls for the police and waits for their arrival. Sarah Breaker is the officer to report to the gas station and Alan tells her that his wife has gone missing at the cabin on Cauldron Lake. She looks at Alan puzzled and informs him that there is no cabin on Cauldron Lake, not since it and divers isle sank during a volcanic eruption in the 1970’s. The Sheriff then asks if Alan has seen Carl Stucky, the owner of the gas station, but Alan lies to her in order to keep the focus on his missing wife. Breaker then drives Alan to the lake to show him that there is no cabin or island, and much to Alan's horror, she's right.
After being interrogated by the Sheriff, Alan receives a call from a kidnapper telling him that he has his wife, Alice, and to meet him at Lover's Peak in Elderwood National Park. Alan then meets Emil Hartman who invites him to stay at Cauldron Lake Lodge. Alan, angered by his visit, punches Emil in the nose. Soon his agent Barry, who arrived after not receiving any responses from his phone, shows up at the police station. Alan and Barry leave the station and head towards Elderwood National Park to rent a cabin from Rusty, the kind Ranger whom he met earlier at the diner. Alan sets out to meet the kidnapper while Barry stays in the house they rented. On the way, Alan finds Rusty badly wounded after being attacked by the Taken.
After being forced to kill the possessed Ranger after he becomes a Taken, he continues down Lover's Peak, only to be thrown off a monolith. Alan then meets the kidnapper. The kidnapper gives Alan some flares and tells him to hold off the Taken, whilst the kidnapper shoots at them. After holding off the Taken at Lover's Peak, the kidnapper demands for the entire manuscript, or else he will hurt Alice. The two get into a scuffle and end up falling off the edge of a cliff, though neither are critically harmed. Alan then picks up the gun that the kidnapper had dropped whilst falling and the kidnapper flees the scene. Alan receives a call from Barry, who says all the lights have gone out in the house and that the birds are going crazy outside.
On his way back, the kidnapper call Alan and says he has two days to give him the entirety of the manuscript at the Old Coal Mine, or his wife dies. After saving Barry from the birds, Alan sends him into town to see if anyone knows a man by the kidnapper's description. Later Barry receives a call from Rose, the waitress and die-hard fan of Alan's books. Rose tells Barry that she has the rest of the manuscript pages; as the call ends, the camera cuts to Rose standing zombie-like in the dark and reveals the woman in black (the same woman as earlier in chapter one, who gave Alan the key to the cabin) behind her, who says "Good girl."
Alan and Barry head to Rose's trailer to get their hands on the manuscript, but when they arrive they both fall unconscious after drinking Rose's coffee. When Alan wakes, he has only twelve hours left to deliver the manuscript. Barry is still knocked out and Alan decides to go get their car. Outside, Wake is confronted by FBI agent Nightingale, who is armed and very much suspicious of Alan; the owner of the trailer park had called the police when he noticed Alan and Barry hadn't left from their visit, beyond the time which Rose would normally had gone to bed. Alan tries to escape the police, so agent Nightingale opens fire on Alan. Alan is forced to flee into the woods and leave Barry, still asleep, behind. Alan heads to the local radio station for directions to the old coal mine, but Nightingale turns up and opens fire yet again, so Alan flees once again as the pursuing police force is decimated by the Dark Presence in the woods. He finds a car by sunrise and begins to head to the coal mine. He arrives on time and waits late into the evening, although the the kidnapper never shows. He gets a call from the kidnapper telling him to find him at Mirror Peak, and when he does the kidnapper reveals that he never had his wife before being engulfed by a tornado of the Dark Presence. Grabbing a flare before the Dark Presence can finish him off, Alan is thrown off the cliff and is saved by an unknown figure.
Alan wakes up in the Cauldron Lake Lodge, which was a hotel and now runs as a mental institute for 'artists', lead by Dr. Hartman. He says that his wife died and all of the events that have transpired were figments of his imagination. Alan refuses to believe him, and as night began to fall two other patients, the Andersons (former rock stars of the 1970s), begin to cause havoc in the institute. In all the chaos Alan manages to escape and soon he reunites with Barry, who's been imprisoned by Dr. Hartman. Dr. Hartman asks Alan to work together on 'this', saying they can make something beautiful. The Dark Presence begins to engulf the Lodge and it kills Dr. Hartman. He begins to realize that the Andersons understand what is going on, and so heads to their farm along with Barry. When they arrive at the farm they find out a hidden message that is on a old record that says "Find the Lady of the Light". They then remember a woman, Cynthia Weaver, who was clutching a lantern in the diner Alan visited upon arriving in Bright Falls. The two agree to find Cynthia the next morning, and spend the rest of the evening over a battle of the Andersons' homemade moonshine, made from the water of Cauldron Lake. As Alan falls asleep, he dreams vividly of the night of Alice's disappearance, his near drowning, and - for the first time - what happened in the missing week afterward.
Alan wakes up and is greeted by Agent Nightingale at gunpoint, who takes him and Barry to their cells. When there is a sudden power-cut, both the Sheriff and Nightingale come to watch over them, but as Nightingale reaches into his pocket to check a page of the manuscript he had just been reading, the Dark Presence grabs him away. The Sheriff frees them, and they explain they need to find Cynthia. The Sheriff says she lives in the old power station. While Barry is left to make some phone calls for the Sheriff, Alan and the Sheriff start to make their way to a helicopter. When the lights go out on Barry, he makes a run for it and winds up in a shop not far from Alan and the Sheriff. After stocking up on flares and lights Barry regroups with the others and all 3 of them reach the helicopter and fly over to the old power station. However, on the way there is an attack made by the crows on the helicopter, and so Alan is forced to jump while the Sheriff and Barry remain in the helicopter, providing support against the Taken on occasion. When Alan finds Cynthia, she tells him to go to the Well-Lit Room, and so Alan, Barry, Cynthia and the Sheriff all meet there. Alan finds a page from Tom, and mentions a 'clicker', a snapped-off light switch that Alan was given by his mother, that turns on a magical light and gets rid of all the darkness. At this moment, Alan knew exactly what he needed to do: he needed to go to Cauldron Lake and use the clicker to save Alice and the town of Bright Falls.
Alan begins to drive to Cauldron Lake, after telling Barry, Cynthia and the Sheriff to stay in the Well-Lit Room as this is something he must do alone. After several encounters with large groups of the Taken and possessed objects, he reaches the lake, diving in and pressing the clicker. He ends up in a world filled with darkness, and as he illuminated pieces of giant text they began to form the house that disappeared. When the house reappeared fully, he heard Barbara talking and Alice screaming for help. When Alan heads into the house, he sees Barbara in front of him, a hole in her heart from Tom's attempt in the 1970s to kill her. He grabs her, puts his hand in her heart and clicks the clicker. The light fills her body, coming out of her eyes and mouth before the house is engulfed by light as well. Alan then walks to the typewriter in his study (with dark shadows still at his windows) and starts writing, saying that he knows how to write the ending and that the scales need to balance: everything has a price.
The ending is ambiguous and is left to interpretation. A flashback of Alan jumping in the lake to save Alice occurs, after which a time lapse which seems to be going backwards happens over Bright Falls. Alice is then shown swimming out of Cauldron Lake and sitting on the dock, calling out "Alan?", with the house still gone and Alan nowhere in sight. Bright Falls is shown prospering in the middle of it's yearly celebration, Deerfest (which was 2 weeks away when Alan and Alice arrived), with Rose clutching the same lantern as Cynthia, the Lady of the Light. Agent Nightingale is seen behind Rose, looking much the same as the possessed Barbara Jagger had in the past. Alan is then seen at his typewriter again, the shadows still at his study's windows. He then says "It's not a lake... it's an ocean."
Alice is heard saying "Alan, wake up" before the game ends. The game ends with three white dots on a black screen, leading to the events of The Signal.
Continuing on where the main game finished. Alan finds himself outside the diner in a night time Bright Falls which quickly changes to daytime. Entering the diner, a surreal déjà-vu dream of the events play out similar to when Alan first arrived, with everything eerily familiar but out of place. Alan is unable to remember where he was prior to this moment but knows he must go to the back of the diner which he forcibly enters. Zane talks to Alan and warns him that he should go no further and that Alan must focus. Zane plays a video of Alan struggling with reality and even telling of events playing out at the moment, Alan realizes where he is; The Dark Place.
Leaving the bathroom, a powerful disturbance causes Alan to lose his balance and focus for a brief second. Night time has now fallen Bright Falls and the main area of the diner the area is littered with televisions playing a warning message from Alan himself which later happens precisely as the message described. Going out the back of the diner, Alan finds himself in the forest surrounding Bright Falls and believes that something went wrong with Departure's ending. Seeking safety from the Taken inside a lone house, Alan finds a manuscript page with which Alan realizes it to be his work but the words are "jumbled to dream like fragments". Many of the words from the manuscript appear in front of Alan but he focuses on one word in particular, "phone". Shining his light on it, a phone appears and Zane tells Alan he can help him but he has to stop slipping deeper, and follow the signal. From there on; Alan follows the signal through Bright Falls streets which makes him encounter multiple disturbance shifts, television warnings and many Taken. After escaping the Church's mutated Taken infested basement, Alan sees a manuscript page floating from the sky, multiple words again appear including one called friend. Shining his light on it, Barry Wheeler, Alan Wake's friend and manager appears in a see-through form, also bringing his personality along with him. Alan realizes the signal is pointing to a structure in the distance which Barry points out it’s sawmill, Alan questions how Barry knew that with Barry responding with a confusing answer.
Going deeper into the woods, a warning message plays out, a new type of invisible Taken appears and hound Alan throughout the forest. Everything begins to get, in Barry's own words, weird. He says that Alan's disregarded thoughts are coming together to create strange places that Alan will have to traverse through to get to his goal. Words begin to change into 'bad' words forcing Alan to be careful around them. Entering and going through the Sawmill, Alan begins to remember Alice and wonders about her. Alan eventually reaches Zane in Alan's own home. Zane appears and tells him its not the darkness that's causing this but himself- he is trapped in his own mind. After Alan angrily refuses to believe he is creating this, Zane is forcibly pushed away and televisions start to attack Alan. After the battle Alan approaches the main television with him agonizing over "Why...why..why couldn't I make him stop'!!" Alan approaches the television, but it suddenly turns back on and starts screaming. Alan suddenly collapses as the television starts screaming "It was my brain...my brain!!" Alan then starts spiraling out of the dream, and he echoes a previous scene with Emil Hartman back at Cauldron Lake Lodge. But he soon snaps out of this, and then wakes up on the floor of the study in Bird Leg Cabin with manuscript pages scattered all around him. Alan screams out "There's no way out, no way out...I've got to get out of h'ere!!"
Directly after The Signal, Alan wakes to his current state of reality where he is now standing in the garden of Hartman’s lodge on one side of a gate opposite Barry. After Alan finds his way to Barry, his thoughts and memories begin to combine and form a twisted version of the Old Gods of Asgard rock stage merged with the lodge’s front exterior. Alan fights off a number of Taken and then proceeds through to the rear of the building to meet Thomas Zane. Zane then explains to Alan that he must reach the cabin at Cauldron Lake to either find himself or be lost to the Dark Presence permanently. A manuscript page is provided, giving Alan the ability to clear a path to his next objective, the lighthouse. Using words such as clear, rock and boat, Wake begins to make his way from the lodge’s mountain overlook to the lighthouse. After speaking with Zane, Alan believes he has a better understanding of what he now faces. The environment continues to evolve around Alan, becoming bizarre and progressively unstable as Taken begin to appear more frequently. Eventually Alan finds himself traversing a Ferris wheel composed of mixed imagery based on memories of his encounters from the not-so-distant past. This ultimately leads Wake to an elevator and another conversation with Zane where it is explained that everything is a dream, and though Zane is not sure what happened to the Dark Presence after Alan’s final encounter, he still hasn’t found a way to leave the Dark Place.
Upon exiting the elevator, Wake finds himself in Stucky’s gas station. He leaves the building and continues through the forest, making his way toward a high bridge. As Alan continues forward, Zane once again speaks to him. He explains that the part of Alan that is in control of the current Alan’s surroundings is in the cabin, suffering from a state of insane delusion. The current Alan represents the rational part, capable of thought and planning. It is Zane’s hope for the sane Alan to regain control before his insane side gives in to the darkness. It is further revealed that Mr. Scratch does not represent any part of the actual Alan; though Zane controlled Cynthia Weaver and had written a page about Alan's clicker in the first part of the game, Mr. Scratch was nothing more than a creation of Alan’s to include in his own story. Zane then uses the power of dreams to uproot a large tree in order to bridge a ravine for Alan to cross. As Wake continues, he notices that the actual Alan has switched off the lighthouse, creating an ideal environment for the Taken. Eventually Alan finds himself in a fragment of Hartman’s lodge witnessing a psychoanalytical conversation between Dr. Hartman and his delusional side. The insane part of Wake wholeheartedly agrees with Hartman’s diagnosis and concludes the session by listening to a recording of his wife, Alice, hatefully ranting about Alan’s incessant needs and arrogance. Wake's rational side dismisses the scene as an attempt to bring him down; Zane later confirms that everything is a twisted fantasy of Alan’s imagination, designed to prevent Wake from regaining control of his mind. Another manuscript page allows Alan to ignite the lighthouse’s light, whereupon large groups of Taken manifest in an attempt to prevent his reaching the lighthouse. Beams of light emitted from the beacon cross the landscape and eliminate Taken, allowing Alan to reach his goal. As Alan reaches the top of the lighthouse, he opens a hatch that brings him to the rim of Cauldron Lake.
After a brief memory of Alice, a bridge begins to form from Alan’s spot to the cabin. Barry appears at different points along the bridge to explain to Alan that abandoning his illusions will eliminate everything, including Barry. When Wake shows little sympathy for his imaginary friend’s dilemma, Barry decides to stop Alan. Alan finally arrives at the cabin which is now engulfed by the darkness; a possessed Hartman, Old Gods of Asgard and Barry attempt to stop Alan from reaching the inside of the cabin. Upon destroying all four Taken memories, Wake enters the cabin and goes upstairs to find his delusional self lying on the floor speaking random nonsense. As the rational Alan places his hand on the other Alan’s shoulder, the two merge, making him whole again. Possessing a new sense of clarity, Wake knows that he might not survive, or find his way back to reality if he slips a second time. Understanding that it could be impossible to leave the Dark Place, Alan approaches his typewriter and begins to write. As the type on the screen comes into clear view, the words, "“Return” by Alan Wake" become visible.
"My name is Alan Wake, and I'm a writer.”
In Alan Wake there is a somewhat small but simple variety of weapons to use, ranging from revolvers, shotguns, flare guns, and hunting rifles. Ammo will be scarce at times, with the player having to make each shot count and conserve ammo wisely. Ammo will be scattered throughout the map, and supplies will be stashed in First Aid Kits throughout Bright Falls for Wake to use. Should the player take damage, standing in a pool of light will heal him. Wake, a thriller writer with a good knowledge of guns, will usually be outnumbered, so conservation of ammo plays a big part in gameplay.
Light plays a very large role in the gameplay also. Alan Wake is armed with a flashlight that will help him defeat his enemies, The Taken, who are affected and weakened by light and strengthened by darkness. Players can burn away enemies, set traps, and buy time using the flashlight. Throughout levels, there will be more powerful forms of flashlights that the player can pick up. However, the flashlight will run out of batteries over time, and the player will have to scavenge for them or else the flashlight will go dead. Overall, the flashlight is more important than the guns. Another tactic with light is to use a flare gun, which will instantly kill all Taken it was pointed at, or severely damage them. And also, small emergency flares can be picked up and used to give players a momentary safe-haven.
Vehicles are also used in some levels where Wake has to cover lots of distance in a short time. However, Taken will do all they can to damage the car and stop Wake. Luckily, Wake can use the car headlights to weaken and crush his foes under the tires.
- See also: Taken
The main enemies are known as The Taken, once normal people who have now been transformed into dark, shadowy, puppets for the Dark Presence to use. They are protected by a Shroud of Darkness, a shield that prevents bullets and objects from hitting them. To get past this shield, Wake must fight darkness with light. By shining the flashlight on the Taken, the Shroud burns away, allowing Wake to gun them down. However, the Taken do not go down easily. Wake's enemies substitute tactics such as flanking, rushing, setting bear traps, and throwing knives and axes from far off distances. They also run a bit faster than Wake, making retreating a difficult task. Luckily, the Taken are incapable of using guns, and instead use knives, axes, shovels, and sometimes sticks of wood to bludgeon with.
A secondary enemy in the game are Taken Birds. While the player is fighting throughout the game, Wake will encounter flocks of bloodthirsty ravens that will swoop down from the sky and damage Wake. Seeing that they travel in packs and large flocks, they can distract the player and severely damage the player. To get rid of them, the player will have to shine his flashlight onto them and burn away the flock. Flares and flare guns will have to be used carefully against them.
And the final enemy of the game are the Poltergeists, objects that have been possessed by the Dark Presence. These objects levitate in mid-air and then fling themselves at the player, causing massive damage to Wake. No object is safe from being possessed unless under a pool of light, which burns away the darkness. There are also vehicles that have been possessed as well, such as jeeps and trucks that will try crushing Wake or wrecking the vehicle Wake is in. In a few levels, there are even possessed harvesters and tractors that Wake will have to use all the light he can get to defeat the evil farm equipment. The Poltergeist enemies ensure that no area is safe, and not even a harmless microwave can be trusted.
Throughout the world of Alan Wake, there are various collectibles that the player can scavenge for achievements and unlockables. There are coffee thermoses that the player can collect, which are a homage to Twin Peaks, a TV show that Alan Wake is partly inspired from, seeing that the characters in that show drink ridiculous amounts of coffee. And also, there are manuscript pages; papers that are scattered around levels with writing on them that foreshadow events.
Several Collectibles are only available in DLC extra downloadable content. This includes alarm clocks and Night Springs Xbox 360 video games (when you're close to this type of collectible, the boot sound of the Xbox console can be heard many times).
Alan Wake was released in stores on May 14th, 2010 for Europe and May 18th, 2010 for North America. There were cases in Portugal and Spain of people receiving their copy of Alan Wake one to two weeks early than the planned released date. This seems to have only happened with those who pre-ordered their copy from GAME.
In the UK game charts, in its first week, with the charts ending 15 May, Alan Wake shot up to number 2 in the "All Platforms" chart, being beaten by FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, but beating Lost Planet 2. However, the game got to number 1 in the "Xbox 360 chart".
On 17 July 2010, Alan Wake re-entered the UK charts, reaching number 11 in the "All Platforms" charts.
As of 25 July 2010, the game has sold more than 592,878 units worldwide, which due to being released just on the Xbox 360 at the time, was known as a huge success.
Remedy announced in 2012 that the franchise as a whole had topped 2 million sales thanks to the help of the PC release of Alan Wake, the sales from the Xbox 360 bundle and the stand alone game sales.
Alan Wake has received positive critical acclaim from critics and fans. Many have praised it for having an amazingly written story, intense gameplay, beautiful environments, soundtrack, and chilling atmosphere. However, some have cited the game for having poor facial animation and lip-syncing, advertising within the game, and some narrative-breaking gameplay mechanics.
Michael Plant from The Independent gave the game a perfect score of 5/5. He praised Alan Wake for its "flawless pacing", which "ensures a compulsive experience". Editing and plot were also received very positively, making the game "the kind of experience the current console generation was made for."
The Daily Telegraph rated the game 9/10 with editor Nick Cowen being impressed by the game's "stunning" look, stating the town of Bright Falls and its surrounding environment to be "authentic" in terms of architecture, vegetation, weather and lighting. He described the atmosphere as being able to "...turn on a dime from feeling safe and serene to one of choking menace and foreboding...". Combat mechanics and plot were also praised with the first making "the player feel constantly under threat." and the latter being "...one of its [the game's] strongest assets." Criticism included facial animation and shortness in length.Winda Benedetti lauded the maturity of Alan Wake as well as Quantic Dream's interactive drama Heavy Rain in an article for MSNBC.com. She described both games as "emotionally powerful" as well as having "... said goodbye to the tired alien invasions and over-the-top fantasy stories so often found in video games. Instead, they peer into the dark reaches of the very real human heart to deliver stories that are thrilling, chilling and utterly absorbing."
William Vitka from The New York Post graded it B+, praising the game for its "scary atmosphere", music, graphics and "surprising level of complexity" in combat, but commented negatively on the game's animation and storyline.
Brian Crecente, editor-in-chief of Kotaku.com praised the general use of light as a gameplay-mechanic. He commented on the episodic structure, saying it made the player feel satisfied even after short gameplay-sessions. He also praised the overall storyline, having played the final episode thrice in a row, saying:"For the first time in my life, I have experienced something that plays like a game but has the impact of a movie...Alan Wake is a powerful ride, an experience bound to leave you thinking about it and wanting more for days after its completion." He however criticized the game for not providing enough information about Wake and his wife, despite being "packed with memorable people". In conclusion he stated:"I am open to the potential of the year's games, but I still can't imagine that Alan Wake will be topped in 2010. It tells a story that is engaging, and yes, emotional. It makes you care, it delivers scares. But most importantly it redefines interactive storytelling. More aptly put, Alan Wake finally delivers on a phrase so overused that it has become a joke."
Tom Mc Shea criticized the game for lacking "surprising, memorable gameplay moments" in his review for Gamespot.com, but hailed it for its "fresh" story-telling, great original as well as licensed music, "subtle" lighting effects which, along with the soundtrack, "create a disturbing atmosphere", "satisfying" combat system and clever inclusion of collectibles, giving a final score of 8.5/10.
IGN's Charles Onyett scored the game 9/10, providing it with the "Editors' Choice Award". He described it as "...hard to put down once you have started." and appreciated the game for its episodic structure, "interesting" story-telling mechanic, lighting effects, soundtrack and combat system which he described as "fast and responsive", but criticized the writing as "uneven".
Tom Orry from VideoGamer.com also awarded a score of 9/10, praising the game for its "clever narrative", "incredible atmosphere" and great soundtrack which he described as "...being one of the best and most memorable I've ever heard in a video game.", concluding Alan Wake to be "...an escapade I'm going to remember for a very long time. It's a stunning action game, a superbly scripted adventure and a technical showcase for the now-aging Xbox 360 hardware."
Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson awarded a score of 7 / 10, stating, "All the same, there's a weekend's worth of fun here for action-adventure fans who aren't too bothered about innovative concepts and varied gameplay, and don't mind a lot of repetition. Alan Wake is an accessible, undemanding game with a neat combat mechanic and decent visuals. It's just not a very original game, it's certainly not an exceptional one, and it's a shame it wasn't ready a few years ago."
In the core game:
- "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson
- "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison
- "Air Kissing" by Violet Indiana
- "Up Jumped the Devil" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- "Shady Grove" by Among the Oak & Ash
- "The Beaten Side of Town" by Barry Adamson
- "Haunted" by Poe
- "How Can I Be Sure" by Anomie Belle
- "Electrica Cadente" by Dead Combo
- "Black Night" by Charles Brown
- "Back Bone" by The Rumble Strips
- "Children of the Elder God" by Old Gods of Asgard
- "Young Men Dead" by Black Angels
- "The Poet and the Muse" by Old Gods of Asgard
- "War " by Poets of the Fall
- "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
In the first DLC chapter The Signal:
- "No, I Don't Remember" by Anna Ternheim
In the second DLC chapter The Writer:
- "The Darkest Star" by Depeche Mode
- The events of the first six episodes take place between 1 September 2009 - 15 September 2009.
- The manuscripts The Sudden Stop 1 and 2 are read by the same voice actor that played Max Payne: James McCaffrey.
- Many characters in the game are modeled after real people, such as Alan Wake's appearance, who is modeled after Ilkka Villi, a Finnish professional actor and writer, who also portrays Alan in Bright Falls and the live action sequences in-game.
- Jack taking most of the patients out on a fishing trip may be a reference to the 1975 drama film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
- Alan Wake was originally going to be a free-roaming/sandbox environment game but this was changed. The idea was later reused to an extent in Alan Wake's American Nightmare as the player is free to roam the areas in the game at their own pace.