As a gaming journalist it’s fair to say you get looked after pretty well by PR reps, a beer here, a vol-au-vent there and a comfy chair to settle into as the latest game is revealed. Seldom, however, does a gaggle of games journalists get let loose in the midst of dark woods with only a torch and our wits to save us.
That’s exactly what happened at the recent unveiling of Remedy Entertainment’s long-awaited psychological action thriller ‘Alan Wake’.
In the game, the town of Bright Falls has fallen prey to the whims of a dark presence, which has seized the town’s inhabitants, driving them insane. Alan Wake, although remaining unaffected, finds himself fleeing for his life: only by focusing his torch or letting rip with a flare can the afflicted be weakened and driven off.
It was exactly this terror-inducing play on light and dark which was demonstrated at the ‘Alan Wake’ preview event to such impressive effect. Taken in groups for a “presentation” only to find the suite in ruins, and ordered out of the building for our own safety, it wasn’t long before we were surrounded by knife-wielding maniacs and on the run for any areas that still had functioning lights.
For anyone who has experienced a piece of interactive promenade theatre by Punchdrunk (‘Faust’ and ‘Masque of the Red Death’), you might have an idea of the intensity of the experience. By blending theatre and videogame they showed us the intense horror that Alan Wake himself has to endure. “They really got the pacing right by calming us down before building up to the actual event,” said Oskari Hakkinen, head of franchise development at Remedy Entertainment. “It (the performance) captured a piece of what ‘Alan Wake’ is about but the game is so much more. Tonight’s performance was more like a small snippet of what you might expect from the game itself.” So remember, always keep a flashlight with you and double check the cupboard for spare light bulbs... you know, just in case.