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Alan Wake: American Nightmare Review

blake_peterson By:
GENRE Action Adventure 
PUBLISHER Microsoft Game Studios 
DEVELOPER Remedy Entertainment 
M What do these ratings mean?

Solipsistic Narcissist with Dissociative Identity Disorder? Nah, Hero.

The following is a transcript of my first psychotherapy session with a Mr. Alan Wake:

A. Robertson, Psychiatric M.D.: Come in Mr. Wake.

Alan Wake: Thank you, should I lie down or sit?

A.R.: Whichever you like. Now please tell me why you’re here.

Alan Wake: Well, I’m having trouble getting out of a rut. It feels like I’m doing the same things over and over.

A.R.: What sort of things?

Alan Wake: Everything. After I reach a certain point in the storyI mean, my life, things go back to the beginning.

A.R.: Perhaps you should start at the beginning.

Alan Wake: Well, it starts with me waking up in an oil field. I can hear the narrator of the T.V. show Night Springs, this Twilight Zone-style TV show I used to write for, talking about me, about what’s going on.

A.R.: This is a dream?

Alan Wake: No, it’s real. It’s a part of me, trapped in The Dark Place.

A.R.: Please continue. [Writes the following note: "Subject may be unable to determine the difference between fantasy and reality.]

Alan Wake: Pretty soon I’m attacked by men shrouded in darkness. I can use the power of light [Takes out a large maglite and waves it around.] to burn away the darkness, and then attack them with a nailgun or pistol to burn them to ashes. I can dodge their attacks, with time slowing down for a moment every time I do.

A.R.: ["Subject’s violent fantasies may indicate feelings of powerlessness and impotence in his personal and professional life."] What do you do for a living Mr. Wake?

Alan Wake: Oh, I’m a writer.

A.R.: And these pages?

Alan Wake: They’re pages that I wrote, telling the story of what’s happening. With them I can change reality if I gather the right components. If I collect enough of them, they allow me to upgrade my guns, get better weapons.

A.R.: ["Subject displays elements of a solipsistic narcissistic viewpoint, may have problems empathizing with others."] You’re creating this reality?

Alan Wake: Everything. Except for Mr. Scr&#ch.

A.R.: ["Somehow subject makes the middle of the word “scratch” sound like static from a television.] Mr. Scratch?

Alan Wake: He’s me, but a dark version of me. He does all the bad things that a bad version of me would do. He’s the one who sends The Taken, the men in darkness, after me. He’s part of what’s keeping me in The Dark Place.

A.R.: ["Subject shows signs of paranoia, dissociative identity disorder?"]

Alan Wake: He’s creative. He sends Taken at me that I’ve never seen before, like one that splits in two when struck by the light. He’s also the most interesting to talk to, since I’m not the person writing his dialogue.

A.R.: You find people other than Mr. Scratch “poorly written"? How so?

Alan Wake: Well, there’s this mechanic woman who’s kind of hippie, but in a dumb comedic way. And there’s also another female character I’ve encountered several times, a video curator. When she’s under the sway of darkness she’s totally into me, which is weird and wrong. Of course, I’m not interested, I’m married. But my wife hasn’t seen me in two years, since I’ve been stuck in The Dark Place.

A.R.: ["Subject displays misogynistic tendencies; female sexual empowerment seen as dark, dangerous. Objectified as characters he’s writing. Possible rejection of, or feelings of abandonment by “wife” may be catalyst."]

Alan Wake: But I’m going to break out, I’m sure of it. When I’m in the middle of these bigger battles with The Taken, I can hear this awesome '80s rock music. I heard on the radio that my old agent Barry produced it with The Old Gods of Asgard, you know that band?

A.R.: ["Subject appears to be experiencing psychotic episode. I attempt to calm him down."] Mr. Wake, is there a time when you feel at peace?

Alan Wake: Yeah, it’s like there’s a whole other reality, like a survival mode. If I can survive in an area for ten minutes, fight ‘til dawn, the sun will come up and I’ll be free of the darkness.

A.R.: Only ten minutes?

Alan Wake: Yeah, but as I defeat them, the waves of The Taken become stronger and stronger. It’s not just firemen and guys carrying shovels, then. There're these giant guys carrying rotating saws that take forever to take out!

A.R.: ["With the subject’s tenuous hold on reality, it may be necessary to institutionalize--"]

[Suddenly, three men surrounded by an inky darkness burst through the door. Mr. Wake dispels the darkness with his maglite and shoots them with a pistol, causing them to burn out in a shower of sparks.]

After I've catched my breath, I send him away to compose myself. I cannot allow myself to become subject to some kind of mass hysteria, no matter how exciting or enjoyable it is. After all, I had another appointment with a Mr. Drake about a sudden fear of heights keeping him from being able to complete his job duties.

Before he leaves, I arrange to see Mr. Wake for an extended five-hour session to try to get to the bottom of this. I feel that I should be able to get to the heart of the matter in that amount of time. Perhaps longer, if we talk about his fights ‘til dawn, which he later called Arcade Mode. ["Thinks this is all a game."]

These sessions shall prove fruitful for my research. Mr. Wake appears to be an interesting subject.

Code provided by publisher.
Alan Wake: American Nightmare
  • Fun light-based combat with new enemies
  • Greater variety of weapons, scales with game difficulty
  • Pages of the story repeat the same information...
  • ...but are optional to read
  • Areas and tasks are repeated...
  • ...but are abbreviated as the game moves on
  • Mr. Scratch is a great villain
  • Other characters aren't as developed
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