Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

8.5 Overall Score

Fight 'Til Dawn is a great arcade experience | A creative way to return to the Alan Wake universe

The plot is a little weak | Story mode can feel repetitive after a while

Written by on February 23, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

“Previously on Alan Wake …”

The last time we heard from best-selling author Alan Wake, he and his wife were taking a vacation together to try and break through a particularly nasty case of writer’s block. Instead of peace and tranquility, though, Wake found himself cast as the hero in a horror novel he didn’t remember writing, and as the linchpin in an epic battle between the forces of darkness and light. Though Wake was ultimately able to push back the Dark Presence, he was left trapped in the realm that exists between reality and fiction. That was two years ago …

Still trapped in the “Dark Place”, Alan has come up with a plan to escape. Writing himself into an episode of the Outer Limits-style television show, Night Springs, Alan is tracking down his doppelganger Mr. Scratch, who is seemingly tearing a path across the country in an effort to hunt down Alan’s wife, Alice. Unfortunately, Mr. Scratch isn’t alone, as the Dark Presence is still corrupting everyone and everything left in Mr. Scratch’s wake. And so, Alan once again arms himself with his trusty flashlight and heads once more unto the breach.

Before I go any further, let’s clear up one bit of confusion. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is NOT Alan Wake 2. If the first game was set up like a television series, then this downloadable XBLA title could be considered the Alan Wake Holiday Special. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare eschews the slow, deliberate pacing of the original Alan Wake in favor of a more arcade experience. In a lot of ways, American Nightmare is to Alan Wake what Resident Evil: Mercenaries is to the Resident Evil series.

Apparently, Alan wrote few more fighting skills for his latest face-off against the darkness, as the combat has been tweaked considerably. Alan’s aim is truer, his moves are faster, and his slow motion dodge is more responsive than ever. Plus, Alan is arming himself with a whole new range of weapons, from pistols and shotguns to Uzis and assault rifles. Heck, Alan’s even raiding the tool shed this time around and packing a powerful nailgun when necessary. All of this comes in handy too, as the darkness possessed Taken are stronger than ever and come in all different shapes and sizes.

The story mode in American Nightmare is fairly straightforward, with Alan forced to replay certain events over and over in an effort to right the wrongs caused by Mr. Scratch. The Story mode is a little on the short side and the plot is light when compared to the original Alan Wake, but it still does a good job of bridging the gap between the end of the last “episode” of Alan Wake (the DLC, “The Writer”) and the unannounced-but-inevitable Alan Wake 2.

Beating the Story Mode doesn’t mean you’re through with Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, though. That’s where Fight ‘Til Dawn comes in. This mode finds Alan battling for his life against waves of Taken at the cusp of sunrise. If he can hold out for ten minutes, the light of the dawn breaks over the horizon to eliminate the remaining Taken. It’s a frantic and addictive fight for survival that’s a great addition to Alan Wake series.

Despite not being a “true” sequel to Alan Wake, American Nightmare packs a lot of punch for being a downloadable title. It’s great to revisit the video game world’s most prominent author and shine a little more light on his epic battle against the shadows. The story is just enough to whet fans’ appetites, and Fight ‘Til Dawn should help keep Alan Wake on the best sellers’ list … at least until Wake (and the folks over at Remedy) are able to finish the manuscript for his return in a proper sequel down the road.


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Author: David Chapman View all posts by

One Comment on "Alan Wake’s American Nightmare"

  1. Ultra March 17, 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Fantastik Game! Thanks Microsoft!!!

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