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Alone in the dark
Alan Wake is the first in a largely excellent series of action/survival horror games that is well worth playing for genre fans. This one mixes a strong narrative with plenty of heart stopping moments to great effect, making it something of a more classic. The story here finds players in control of Alan Wake, a mystery novelist who visits the town of Bright Falls to escape creative pressures. However, once there, his wife disappears and he is set upon by strange and terrifying creatures, setting in motion a bizarre adventure worthy of Wake's own telling. What follows is a clever third-person adventure that is split into a number of chapters, each with their own cliffhangers for added tension. The game is a mix of exploration during the day, switching to action and combat during the night, when the creatures come out to play. One of the key features of the game is its use of light, with combat requiring clever use of your flashlight to weaken your enemies but which also serves to add atmosphere. There are also a few puzzle elements, where you attempt to restore electricity and other similar things, while a few driving sections also pop up, and with the narrative unfolding by speaking with NPCs, by discovering written clues and through flashbacks. Alan Wake really is a superb exercise in video game storytelling and nails the narrative on the head. It's rarely less than utterly gripping, with plenty of twists and turns, and which is notably mature in its approach. It also delivers on the action/horror front so if you love Alone in the Dark or Silent Hill, then this is for you.