We all like a certain sense of anticipation, right? If games – or films, TV shows, etc for that matter – just appeared without any build-up, we’d actually be a little disappointed, not least as the trailers are all too frequently better than the actual film.
So, yes, indisputably, teaser campaigns and a sense of hype are generally very good things. But there is a point where teaser and hype becomes “expectations it cannot POSSIBLY live up to”. And that, sadly, is the point we’ve long passed with Alan Wake.
Sound familiar? It should. This psychological has been on the cards for FIVE years.
It’s the new – new! ha! – game from Remedy, the people behind Max Payne, a game it shares a certain sensibility with. You will – well, possibly – play Alan Wake, best selling suspense writer with – and you have to adore this irony – a two year long case of writer’s block. In order to get over his problems, wife Alice takes her troubled husband to Bright Falls, the sort of small forest-based town beloved of Stephen King books.
Which should, frankly, have been a bit of a clue to any suspense writer but no, not Alan, whose wife disappears, leaving him to struggle with the sort of mystery straight out of one of his books. Quite literally in fact: Alice’s disappearance does resemble the plot of Alan’s latest novel. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even remember writing it let alone what happens and so people start questioning his sanity.
To be fair, it all sounds really good (although detractors will no doubt cite Silent Hill all over the place), like Max Payne dropped into a Stephen King novel set in Twin Peaks. And what’s been shown so far – there are screen shots aplenty at the official Alan Wake site, and the trailer has been available in some shape or form since 2008 – suggests that this nightmarish tale is going to be gorgeous and creative and all sorts of good things.
But can any game survive five years of hype?
In that time, the game has already seen its planned platform switch from PS3 to XBOX360 since Microsoft snapped up the publication rights. However, the planned PC version seems to have been shelved indefinitely. As the game’s chief writer told Edge Magazine, the focus is on the Spring 2010 release and the XBOX version. As for the PC one? “Plans are up in the air and open,” explained Lake. “Once we’re done with the 360 version we’ll evaluate the situation and see what makes sense.”
Which sounds like management speak for “not a bleeding chance, mate, you’re having a giraffe.”
With five years on the developer’s servers, there is at least a good chance that the game will be the technical breakthrough and genuine cinematic experience that it’s rumoured to be. I’m also sure the puzzle aspects, the fight scenes and bad guys – supernatural nasties that feed off the dark – will also be accomplished. Light, apparently, is the main weapon, adding a need to balance that with conventional weapons, and also be aware off passing (real) time.
There’s also talk that the game will be both episodic – building the tension in the manner of The X Files or Fringe – but also truly free ranging, in the spirit of Grand Theft Auto, allowing you to wander the exquisitely realised town of Bright Falls while trying to get to the bottom of where the Mrs has gone.
It all sounds marvellous then, a true bar-raising, paradigm-shifting, envelope pushing gaming experience that will have everyone salivating, and millions queuing for their early copy...
Bur seriously, what chance that will actually happen? What are the chances that a game this long in the works, that’s clearly shuttled between design office and drawing board more often than Oprah Winfrey’s had hot meals, will actually achieve all of the above? And, even if it does, what are the chances that it’s actually going to be fun to play? Because isn’t the whole bloody point of ANY game? Ask any gamer what they want and I doubt that the words “exquisitely rendered leaves” will come anywhere near the list.
So, while I’m hoping that this will be the game I was looking forward to in 2005, my levels of enthusiasm have sunk lower than Jodie Marsh’s dress standards.
This isn’t the best bit though. Want to know what that is? This Spring-based adventure is supposedly the first of four Alan Wake games with seasonal themes. Really? Keep 2025 clear people. There’s a final chapter due...