4 April 2016

In the pines

It's ridiculous how good Alan Wake looks. It has no rights to do so. After all, it came out six years ago for a previous generation console. It can't look this good. Yet it does. Seriously. And thanks to the backwards compatibility, you can enjoy this Finnish-made masterpiece, originally published for Xbox 360, on Xbox One.

I'm happy with our Xbox One but not a single so-called next generation game has made me wow at its graphics. Alan Wake had me gasping al the way through. I was constantly shouting to my brother: "look at this", "gorgeous", "just wow". And this wasn't the first time I played the game. I originally played it through five years ago but somehow I appreciated it more this time around.

It's written in Finn's genetic make-up how the darkness looks, how it moves and snares us. We have dark most of the year. We know how the flashlight plays out in the darkness when we make it out for the outhouse. Surrounded by the scary woods.

Seriously, these stills don't do justice to Alan Wake. The darkness, the forest, the environments - it all is a living, breathing entity shadowing Alan's desperate journey through the night. There's so much volume and depth to the graphics it has to be experienced by playing the game.

And the good looks are only half of the story. I could go on how witty the writing is, how it plays intentionally with cliches, how it draws from this mythc North America with its strange small towns that lives in our shared collective conscious, how it is a love story at heart. And how quirky it is. As only Finns can do.

It may be the best part of Remedy's latest offering Quantum Break that it comes with a free Alan Wake download. At the same time I hope QB will sell well enough that Microsoft finally shows the green (flash)light to Alan Wake 2.

//planeteer J

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