Sunday, January 6, 2013

Alan Wake: The Writer (DLC)

Following my playthrough and review of The Signal, I immediately downloaded The Writer to find out what was at the end of the literary tunnel. I also happened to have beaten it today, though this wasn't unexpected given the length of the previous add-on. Since I actually paid the 560 Microsoft Points/$7 to get this one, I'd say that it was actually worth the investment.

The Writer continues from the conclusion of The Signal, where Alan Wake is now in a twisted version of Cauldron Lake Lodge. Almost immediately, the image of Dr. Hartman before him becomes an imaginary version of Barry, who tells Alan to snap out of it and get back to reality, or what qualifies as reality in the Dark Place. Wake quickly sees the light of Thomas Zane and heads toward it. It is here he is informed that in order to have a chance of getting back to reality, he must head toward the lighthouse and regain his sanity. With the imaginary Barry to accompany him, Alan begins a new journey across his ever-twisting imagination.

While The Writer is still pretty short for a $7 download, between one to two hours or so depending on how much you care about Achievements, it manages to do its job pretty well. Though there are some rather unique combat sections, it manages to downplay it a little bit in favor of puzzle solving and telling a good story. The journey through Alan's mind as he tries to understand just who he is and what's going on is filled with a surprising number of twists that are mostly resolved. Plenty of events from the first game are either referenced or discussed, giving more insight into what went down in the main game. Most importantly, it discusses the power of the written word and its importance to writers, something I found to be very interesting indeed. The dialogue was also written well, with characters bouncing off each other with thought-provoking and sometimes humorous dialogue, retaining the overall tone of the first game well.

As Alan Wake's second and final Special Feature, The Writer is a very good buy for Alan Wake fans, especially if they own The Signal. Its focus on storytelling is the main reason to buy this and though it may not feel like it has an entirely justified price tag, it's an effective way to solve some lingering mysteries and open the door to possibly another Alan Wake game. If you're already invested in the story, like I am, get this now.

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