Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Finished: Alan Wake's American Nightmare

American Nightmare is a gaming equivalent of the bottle episode. While it progresses the Alan Wake story beyond the original campaign and the two DLC episodes, it has been structured such that it can easily justify the reuse of a small number of level, art and character resources.

Personally I think it is a decision that pays off really well. To give a minor spoiler (skip this paragraph if you want to avoid it), the justification used is a time loop, each time you reach the end of the final map you are sent back to the first one. Except that you aren't just doing the same things over and over. Alan is not the only one aware of the time loop  meaning that while assets are reused, you don't just do the same damn things over and over.

It seems pretty clear that the focus of American Nightmare is combat, the horror elements are still there, but they have been pushed into the background, mostly surfacing in the Mr. Scratch videos. Instead the gameplay emphasises faster paced combat with a larger variety of enemies and weapons. The flashlight has been tweaked such that it no longer passively removes the darkness, Alan has to focus (and use battery power) to make enemies vulnerable and even to provide the temporary stun.

They added a bunch of new enemies, some that split when exposed to light, big enemies, ranged enemies (including grenadiers), even non-human enemies, making fights more varied and challenging. Finally rather than pistol/shotgun/rifle there are a range of guns allowing players to trade off between accuracy, rate of fire and firepower. Some guns are clearly better than others, but unlocking those are tied into the page collection mechanic.

The game has a few different modes, but I only played the single player campaign once. I found that the focused story and tweaked combat system really worked well for me and it was great to be able to pick it up at a cheaper price point than the main game. I am curious as to what other developers would do if they were to make a bottle episode in their franchise. Anyone able to name other examples of this kind of approach?

Now exams are over I want to get through this backlog of game posts before I head overseas. The plan is to continue the Note Taking App project as well.

Games list at time of post: 407 unfinished titles
Changes since previous update: Finished 21 titles, dropped 3, added 30
Been a while since I added this at the bottom

1 comment:

  1. It's good to hear that they've expanded on the combat; a real flaw of what was otherwise an excellent game was the annoyingly basic/unvaried combat system.