Alan Wake is a very interesting game, combining story-telling aspects with cinematic gameplay. At times the game can be very fun, but don't forget that most of the effort towards the game was spent towards a gripping story and stunning graphics.
You play as Alan Wake, a famous writer troubled by a strange kind of writer's block. In an effort to cure the block, you take a vacation with your wife to a quaint town in the mountains, named Bright Falls. Through a series of strange events, you wake up from a car crash and must find out what happened before you got there. Also, you must figure out why you must fight these beings of darkness (the Taken) that attack you. I don't want to spoil too much if you end up actually picking the game up; it has a great storyline.
The game's graphics are spectacular. I cannot describe how amazingly like real-life they are. I never noticed just how good the graphics were until, in the story, a trailer park landlord led me toward a person's trailer that I suspected had some important papers for me to read. In the daytime, everything looked and felt like an actual environment in the summer. I was very impressed. Also, great attention has been given towards the effect of flashlights at nighttime. The darkness is lit up how you would expect it would from a flashlight. I'm guessing that a lot of work was put into that and I appreciate that the developers tried very hard to make the game feel as real as possible.
The gameplay is fairly good for a story-based game. Sometimes you even feel really epic. But large portions of the game require running through forests. Although running through forests at night can get pretty hectic, I feel like they soften a lot of the "thriller" aspect of this game. What I mean is that if you're walking (not already in combat) and an enemy runs to attack you from behind, the camera zooms out in slow motion and you are given a good three seconds to prepare to whip around and blast the sucker. How many "thriller" games have done this before? I like their approach at cinematic gameplay, but I do not like the trade-off they have approved; cinematic action instead of pure fear.
The story was (obviously) very good for a video game. The writers were very good at characterization. I feel as if a lot of the people in the game could have been paradies of actual people. Although I'll be a good reviewer and not spoil the outcome, I will say this: I felt the ending was a little lacking. There is DLC that I haven't played, but I am reviewing the base game and not any downloaded content. DLC set aside, I like some of the little things they put in your adventure. Every now and then you could catch a TV turn itself on and a live-action Alan Wake would ramble onscreen about this and that. That helped make the game feel realistic. There was also a part of the game where you got to watch a live-action interview of our real-life actor portraying Alan Wake. With all of these awesome little additions to the game, I found only one thing out of place with the Alan Wake universe; the collective coffee thermoses found throughout the game. I didn't like how I could fight through a lengthy battle with the "Taken", and continue on my path just to find a random glistening coffee thermos sitting on a rock, seemingly out of nowhere. It really clashed with the atmosphere. Pretty much a great story but barely any replay value.
There is not much to say about Alan Wake. It is a rather short game; I completed it in about 3 days. It has much less of an advantage than games containing multiplayer when it comes to an actual rating. Despite this, I am going to rate this a 3/5. Mainly because, I realized, I had a lot more fun with a sandbox-type game that had a lot more to the single-player, such as Red Dead Redemption. The developers could have done more to make the "thriller" aspect of Alan Wake much more frightening than it was. Overall, the graphics and story were amazing but the gameplay could have been tweaked to be more of that like a thriller.