Alan Wake: American Nightmare:
A psychological Thrill… er…
Alan Wake: American Nightmare is the second game of Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake series. It takes place after the events in Alan Wake. American Nightmare is a third person shooter game where you take control of the writer Alan Wake as he travels through a world over run by darkness, governed by his evil twin, Mr. Scratch. Armed with only a gun and his flashlight, Alan tries to, literally, rewrite the dark place and return to his own world.
Controls of the game have translated over to the sequel. The game still plays the same: get rid of the dark shield surrounding your enemies and then send them to oblivion with your gun of choice. You can pick up ammo from boxes lying around the area or from ammo storage containers and restore health by standing under street lights. Alan can also find different pages of his story lying around the game world, revealing backstories to other characters in the series, as well as foreshadow events that are to come in the game.
American Nightmare claims to be an action game with elements of a psychological thriller. This game, sadly, does not quite live up to that label. The game is an action game, but it doesn’t feel quite like the psychological horror game that its predecessor is. The environment is much lighter as opposed to the original, taking away from the horror aspect of the game.
While the gratuitous amount of ammo boxes lying around are enough to keep players armed to the teeth, the game almost felt too helpful with ammo. Ammo containers refreshed their supplies too quickly for the challenge of the game to remain. I constantly found myself trying to pick up the ammo boxes lying around, only to be told I was at full ammo. Restoring health with the streetlights had almost the opposite effect. They were normally spaced too far apart and did not always refresh themselves as quickly as ammo containers, if at all.
Finding collectibles is a more satisfying experience in American Nightmare as opposed to the original. Finding the pages (of Alan’s book) unlocks different weapon crates scattered throughout the game. The nailgun, a crossbow, and an automatic shotgun are just a couple of the unlockables.
A new mode that was introduced in the game is Arcade mode. In arcade, you fight wave after wave of enemies, racking up the high score while waiting for dawn to come and rid the area of darkness. With each successful completion of a round, new maps are unlocked for players to enjoy. Players can find the same guns they can in the story mode to use in the arcade mode.
The game has decent graphics at best. Some of the cutscenes are photo realistic but most are not nearly as nice as that. Graphics didn’t improve from the first game, but they did not get any worse either. While the graphics themselves are not the greatest in the world, they do not make the game unplayable. The environments are still enough to make players want to go explore.
The soundtrack to the game is very well done. Each track has a different feel to it and is very pleasing to the ears. However, music would be my first argument as to why the game no longer has the psychological horror aspect to it. There are too many guitar riffs and rock songs to really keep the atmosphere that a horror game needs. Sound effects are realistic, which does keep the player involved in the game.
American Nightmare was definitely an enjoyable game. With the story elements, American Nightmare will probably be appreciated by the gamers who have enjoyed the first game as opposed to new players who do not know the back story. While they have added new things to the game itself, it didn’t feel like it was enough of a game to continue the story. Things seemed forced and quick. Replay value is almost zero except for those who want to unlock all the achievements. While I enjoyed the game, I was expecting more from it.
Publisher: Remedy Entertainment Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Release Date: XBLA – Feb. 22, 2012
PC – May 22, 2012
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, Windows Digital: Yes
Game Cost: 1200 Microsoft Points, $14.99 on PC ESRB Rating: T
Players: Single Player Only
Online: Arcade Leaderboards
Online Pass: No