Nightmare Fuel: Alan Wake
Needless to say, there are some very
dark moments in Alan Wake
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Despite dropping the psychological horror elements of the game in favor of pulp fiction action, American Nightmare
has plenty of its own terrifying moments.
- The central concept is pretty horrifying. Imagine being trapped in an endless time loop for eternity where stronger and stronger monsters appear each time. Yeah, Alan finds a way to end it and save himself, but what if he didn't? If the Taken didn't kill you sooner or later, the madness and repetition would grind your sanity away slowly until you didn't want to survive any longer. It can be pretty scary to think about.
- Eddie's radio show is normally a pretty reliable bastion of sanity and even humor. He interviews the Old Gods of Asgard along with Barry, talks about existential concepts in a positive and decidedly non-nightmarish light, and has an unbelievably pleasant voice to listen to. Then during the second cycle, at the drive-in, he's talking about fate with a caller, and something starts to happen to his voice. It suddenly starts talking about the possibility that humans are merely pawns to some presence beyond their comprehension, making free will an utter illusion, living lives that are (at best) subject to the ripples of another world or (at worst) simply for the entertainment of higher beings. His voice? It's turned into that of the narrator of Night Springs. The worst part? This is all taking place in Night Springs. None of the people you're talking to are actually real...or are they? Thankfully, the subsequent two lines are Nightmare Retardant.
Eddie: Food for thought, Ricky. Just food for thought.
- The first time you encounter a King Hillbilly Taken. Up until then you've managed to overcome all the various other forms tricks and abilities. Then, out of nowhere, this lumbering brute shows up and knocks you down to one hit point with a single attack. No gimmick, no strategy, just a massive monster that can soak up a full chip from an automatic gun and keep coming.
- Mr. Scratch's TV recordings. The guy is a monster, and these show how gleeful he is about it. One of them features him slitting the throat of an unwitting fan, and being so happy about it, it's almost sexual. The last one is particularly chilling: Scratch talks about "big bastards" that live in the darkness, and how he's bringing them out.
They don't mind getting a bit of elbow room. All that chaos and madness, it doesn't really do that much down there. It's like pouring a glass of water into the ocean, right?
But up here? Yeah, you can really make an impact.
- And at the other end of the spectrum, he can nonchalantly murder a man for being too noisy. Or show off his knife collection and describe why he likes this one for the style or that one for the non-slip grip and how you really need that traction when you're "wrist-deep in somebody", all the while sounding like he's talking about the weather.
- Also, in one of his videos he starts out talking about how beautiful and talented Alice is, and how he's basically been stalking her, just letting her see him enough that she thinks she's catching glimpses of her dead husband. And then he starts talking like this:
So I'll go to her. It'll be an amazing moment — "Oh my God, you're alive!" I'll be the good, loving husband for as long as I can stand it. She'll love it. And then, one day, somehow, it'll happen. Maybe I'll slip up and she spots something. Or maybe she just starts running her mouth. And then...I'll do it. *Slasher Smile
* It's gonna be sweet.
- The main story may have dropped most of the survival horror elements, but the arcade mode restores it completely. It's basically Alan Wake's version of Nazi Zombies, only you have no teammates and the higher tier weapons can only be unlocked by finding manuscript pages in story mode, making it almost impossible for players who decided to try it before tackling the main game. The basic premise is that you fight off a horde of Taken until the sun rises in ten minutes. Each location is heavily isolated, very creepy (the first level is set in a graveyard, for example), and supplies are limited. Oh, and the best part? After beating all of the already difficult normal levels you unlock the apply named nightmare levels which send waves of Taken at you right from the very start. If you haven't mastered the controls and item placements you will likely die before even getting to the halfway mark. So yeah, have fun.
- The music in the arcade mode is very quiet. Why? So you can hear the Taken's footsteps as they come up behind you.
- Mr. Scratch himself could probably fill up a Word page, but the most odd thing you'll notice about him, is how his name is pronounced by Alan in the manuscript pages: "Mr. S*static*". Although you can clearly read how his name is spelled and what it means, Alan cannot pronounce it as "Scratch". Adds to the feel that Scratch is something from a different realm than ours.