Embrace Alan Wake For The Sake of Survival Horror

By Adam Ma on April 26, 2010, 6:05PM EDT
X360

Gaming franchises these days have become extremely recognizable, as launching a massive ad campaign is commonplace amongst new titles. Assuming the game does well, players naturally then expect for there to be a second, and maybe even a third installment in the series. There's nothing wrong with this sort of consumerism inherently, but at times it can lead to a lot of games that simply aren't recognized. It seems that this is doubly so for any game attempting to enter the thriller, or generally scary, genres of gaming. This is exactly why Alan Wake deserves a chance.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Silent Hill's and Resident Evil's when they come around. Having proven themselves as games with a loyal fanbase it's always interesting to see what the developers (and more importantly writers) try and do to make the game worth being in the series. But there's something about a brand new franchise to scare me that really peaks my interest - especially if its formula actually works.

In fact, looking completely aside from the action and storytelling, the best part of Alan Wake looks to be the atmosphere itself. Attention to the environment, how the world lives and breathes, is absolutely pinnacle to the survival of any thriller-style game. The best of the Silent Hill games made sure that the player knew they were alone and with little hope, not through notes on the ground or scary cutscenes, but through just wandering the world. On the other hand Resident Evil stopped being scary the second they stopped caring about the environment, instead tossing players into a world of generally dirty looking places. If I'm not concerned about every single building, chair, or soda can around me then the game has failed in creating a 'thriller' experience.

The world of Alan Wake, visually, drew me in from the very first screenshots. Perhaps this is an advantage to the game's selling point, or maybe I'm just setting myself up for disappointment, but when I can see myself being concerned of the very trees around me it's hard not to imagine having a great time. That sort of tense mood isn't easy to capture, and shows a lot of research and dedication. It's much easier for developers to create a world where you simply blow things up. It's much harder to craft a world that you are literally afraid of, but still want to be immersed in.

Alan Wake is looking like it will do just that and anyone who's a fan of survival horror and owns an Xbox 360 really has no excuse but to embrace this title "“ prove to developers that there is still life left in the survival horror genre and that it doesn't have to go all guns blazing to draw in an audience. There are too few psychological-thriller games that stay away from gore and violence as the factors of disturbia, and even fewer that look as well designed and thought out as Alan Wake. It's for this reason that the game needs to succeed.

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