Don’t Wake Me Up

Posted: April 15, 2011 by iancox1986 in Features
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve just spent what feels like hours travelling through the dark, twisted woods that lead down to the lake. With every flicker of movement, every change in the shadows, I nervously look, snapping my head from side to side, making sure I’m safe. I can hear my friend below me, calling out to me, telling me he’ll meet me at the farm. Don’t leave me alone, I think; but it’s too late, he’s gone, and I’m left to fend for myself.

A thin layer of perspiration settles on my brow, my clammy hands gripping the beaten up torch that feels like my only salvation. They’re coming to get me. I evade shadows, dodging and writhing from their grasp, diving into any pool of light I can see, grateful for the salvation it provides. How much longer can I go on like this? I want it to stop….but at the same time, I never want it to end.

I am, of course, playing Alan Wake for the Xbox 360. And I’m loving every second of it. To give you some background, I’m an English Lit graduate, so this game is basically my porn. The Stephen King references are well documented elsewhere, and even referred to in the game itself. But it’s so much more than this that makes this one of my favourite games of the current generation.

The game is a post-modern masterpiece, in my eyes. Much like the best-seller Misery by the aforementioned Stephen King, it is a story about a writer who has lost the ability to tell a story. The writer in Misery become trapped by a maniacal fan, who forces him to bring back his character from the dead and write a book just for her; in essence, he becomes trapped by his own creation, and is inevitably woven into his own story; the fictional world of Misery combines with the writer’s own, with devastating effect.

Wake parallels this in so many ways. A writer, trapped by his own inability to create, finds his story woven into his own creations. The difference here, of course, that Wake is trapped by darkness, rather than a maniacal fan; but in literature, a protagonist is merely a device that serves to drive the story along. Or, is the story the device that drives the protagonist along? Questions like this are what make something post-modern, and these are questions that are asked in Alan Wake.

Taken just as a game, I’d call it a seven out of ten; the kind of game that you’d pick up and play, enjoy, but then inevitably forget. The controls do the job but are sometimes clunky, the shooting/action portions of the game can be become repetitive and annoying, and the driving sections are needless and grating. But it’s everything that goes on around the gameplay that makes it so compelling. The characters are believable, and as well rounded as any in a game for a long time; major characters have clear flaws, including our ‘heroic’ lead. I won’t delve too deeply here; to explore the characters would take more words than I’m prepared to commit right now, and could easily spoil the game for those that haven’t played it.

I’m yet to finish the game. I’ve reached the last chapter and been stopped in my track by a broken finger; it’s as if the darkness doesn’t want me to finish the game, lest it should lose its grip on me. But finish it I will. After all, no great story lacks a conclusion.

Follow me on Twitter @SmallTownGamer, or AHG @AntiHeroGaming 

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