Alan Wake is an action-adventure video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios, released for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The story follows best-selling thriller novelist Alan Wake as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his wife's disappearance during a vacation in the small fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington, all while experiencing events from the plot in his latest novel, which he cannot remember writing, coming to life.

Alan Wake
Alan Wake Game Cover.jpg
Developer(s)Remedy Entertainment[a]
Publisher(s)Microsoft Game Studios
Remedy Entertainment (PC)
Director(s)Markus Mäki
Producer(s)Jyri Ranki
Designer(s)Mikael Kasurinen
Programmer(s)Olli Tervo
Artist(s)Saku Lehtinen
Writer(s)Sam Lake
Mikko Rautalahti
Petri Järvilehto
Composer(s)Petri Alanko
Platform(s)Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
ReleaseXbox 360
  • EU: 14 May 2010
  • NA: 18 May 2010
  • AU: 20 May 2010
Microsoft Windows
  • NA: 16 February 2012
  • AU: 16 February 2012
  • EU: 2 March 2012

In its pacing and structure, Alan Wake is similar to a thriller television series, with episodes that contain plot twists and cliffhangers. The game itself consists of six episodes, and the storyline is continued by two special episodes, titled "The Signal" and "The Writer", that were made available as downloadable content (DLC) within the same year of the game's release. Together, they make the first season of a possibly longer story. Additionally, a six-episode live-action web series called Bright Falls acts as a prequel to the game, and a number of related books also expand upon the Alan Wake story.

Chiefly written by Sam Lake, Alan Wake took over five years to create—an unusually long development time in the game industry. The game received positive reviews from critics, and is often praised for its visuals, sound, narrative, pacing, and atmosphere. Alan Wake was awarded the first spot in Time magazine's list of the top 10 video games of 2010.[1] Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a full stand-alone title, was released in February 2012 on the Xbox Live Arcade service. A sequel was in development but was cancelled. However, the scrapped sequel became the foundation and inspiration of Remedy's next title, Quantum Break.


Above, the player, as Alan, "fight[s] with light" against a Taken. The ammo counter for the gun is visible at the top right, and the flashlight meter at the top left.[2]

Alan Wake is described by Remedy as "the mind of a psychological thriller" and "the body of a cinematic action game" put together.[2][3] In interviews, the game's creators hold that the game does not belong squarely in the survival horror video game genre.[4] The game is primarily set in the fictional idyllic small town of Bright Falls, Washington. The main gameplay happens in various areas of Bright Falls – such as the forest, a national park, or a farm – during the night time; these are punctuated by calmer, non-combative sequences set during the day.

The player controls the eponymous protagonist Alan Wake. In the game, a "darkness" is taking over humans, animals and objects. These enemies, dubbed the "Taken", are murderous shadows that attack Wake, wielding weapons of their own, ranging from mallets and knives to shovels and chainsaws. They vary by speed, size, and the amount of damage they can take, and some can teleport between short distances.[5] Besides the Taken, the player must combat flocks of possessed ravens and animated objects. When enemies are close, Alan can perform a slow-motion cinematic dodge maneuver.

The Taken are protected by a shield of darkness, initially rendering them impervious to attack; they can only be injured with a firearm after exposure to light, which burns the darkness away. This puts significant emphasis on flashlights in conjunction with conventional weapons, such as a revolver or shotgun. Flashlight beams act as a reticle.[5] The handheld lights Wake can carry can be boosted, which destroys the darkness faster, but also reduces the light's battery level. Besides the conventional shooter gameplay need for reloading ammunition, the player must also insert fresh batteries into the flashlight when they run out, or wait for it to recharge slowly. The strength of the darkness protecting an enemy can vary among the Taken. The amount of darkness remaining is represented by a corona of light that appears when aiming at an enemy, and a stronger darkness may recharge over time.[5] When a Taken is finally destroyed, it disappears.

The player is often encouraged to take advantage of environmental light sources and placing, and to use other light-based weapons and accessories, such as flare guns, hand-held flares and flashbangs. Wake can use searchlights to take out massive waves of Taken. Streetlights and other light stands can provide a safe haven, which the Taken cannot enter, and will regenerate the character's health faster. Otherwise, health regenerates slowly with time, when not taking any damage.[5] In certain sections of the game, it is possible to use a car to traverse between locations in Bright Falls. When in a car, the player can run down Taken on the road, or boost the vehicle's headlights to destroy them.

A major element of gameplay is the optional discovery and collection of manuscript pages from Alan Wake's latest novel—Departure. Although Wake does not remember writing this book, its storyline seems to be becoming real around him. These readable manuscript pages are scattered around the game world, out of chronological order; they often describe scenes that have yet to occur and act as warning and instructions for proceeding through upcoming challenges.[6] Other optional collectibles include coffee thermos flasks scattered around the game world (100 in all), as well as discovering television sets which show different episodes of the fictional Night Springs series, radios airing talk and music from Bright Falls' local radio station, and textual signs around the town.[6] The radio shows and signs provide a deeper understanding of the town's history and culture. The game's downloadable content episodes introduce other collectibles such as alarm clocks.[7]


Alan Wake (voiced by Matthew Porretta) is a best-selling psychological thriller author but has been suffering from a two-year stretch of writer's block. He and his wife Alice travel to the small mountain town of Bright Falls in the state of Washington for a short vacation on the advice of Alice and his friend and agent Barry Wheeler. Before arrival, Alan has a nightmare about shadowy figures who tried to harm him before an ethereal figure interrupts his dream and teaches him how to use light to fight the shadows. On their arrival, Alan goes to retrieve the keys and map to their rented cabin from Carl Stucky, the cabin's landlord, but he is visited by a mysterious old woman, who tells him that Stucky had fallen ill and she was entrusted to give Alan the keys. After Alan leaves, Stucky is shown trying to catch up to him and give him the real keys.

Alan and Alice arrive at a cabin on an island in the middle of Cauldron Lake. As they unpack, Alan finds that Alice arranged this trip to try to break his writer's block, scheduling him to see a Bright Falls psychologist named Dr. Hartman and leaving a typewriter in the cabin for him. Alan is infuriated and takes a short walk, but runs back when Alice cries for help. He returns to the cabin just as Alice is being dragged into the lake's waters by a mysterious force. Alan dives into the water after her, blacking out as he submerges.

Alan regains consciousness a week later, apparently having driven his car off the road, but with no memory of how he got there. He starts to head back towards town, but his progress is hampered by shadowy figures that try to kill him. He observes a strange figure in a diving suit who reminds him of his earlier dream and how to fight the shadows with light. Alan fights through the shadows while finding pages of a manuscript titled Departure with his name on the by-line, a work he had not written. Eventually making it to town, Alan tries to alert Sheriff Sarah Breaker of his wife's disappearance, but Sarah states that there has been no island or cabin in Cauldron Lake for years after it sunk following a volcanic eruption years prior. Sarah contacts the FBI to investigate Alice's disappearance, while Alan arranges for Barry to come and help.

Alan receives a call from a man purporting to be Alice's kidnapper, demanding the pages of Departure in exchange for her. Meeting at a state park, Alan is about to turn over the pages when the man is consumed by a dark tornado and Alan is knocked out. Before being consumed by the tornado, the man revealed that he never had Alice to begin with. He awakes in Barry and Dr. Hartman's care in the lodge overlooking Cauldron Lake. Dr. Hartman listens to Alan's story and claims he is suffering a psychotic break; everything that he's witnessed being part of his imagination. Alan attempts to escape the lodge as the shadowy force starts to attack it; while retrieving the manuscript pages in Dr. Hartman's office, Dr. Hartman tries to stop him and gives the impression that he is aware of the supernatural events surrounding the lake. Barry helps Alan to escape the lodge before the shadow subsumes it and all those inside. Returning to town, they find the FBI has arrived, and attempt to arrest him, before the shadowy forces intervene, allowing Alan and Barry to escape.

Alan and Barry start to learn about the past of Cauldron Lake from other townsfolk. They believe an entity called the Dark Presence is trapped within the lake and is trying to escape by using its powers to turn fiction into reality. It has previously tried this with a writer known as Thomas Zane—the figure in the diving suit—but Zane was able to resist its will and died during the eruption that sank the island. The Dark Presence has grown strong enough to start to influence the townspeople and create the forces that have chased Alan. That night, as Alan and Barry take shelter, they get drunk on moonshine, and Alan starts to recall memories of being forced to write Departure during the prior week and realizes that the Dark Presence is now trying to use his writings to escape.

Sarah and the FBI arrive to arrest the two, but the shadowy figures drag the FBI agents away. Sarah, now convinced of the Dark Presence, helps Alan and Barry to find Cynthia Weaver, a hermit that fears the Dark Presence. She shows them to the "Well-Lit Room" and to a weapon that is able to defeat the Dark Presence: the Clicker, a simple light switch that has been infused with the power of Alan's writings. Alan returns to Cauldron Lake alone to face the Dark Presence, using his newfound ability to affect reality with his thoughts aided by the Clicker. The Dark Presence is dispelled but there is no sign of Alice, and Alan believes that to maintain balance, he must give himself to the lake. As Alan sinks below the waters, Alice climbs safely out of the lake.[8] Within the depths of the lake, Alan finds himself in the cabin and realizes that Departure is not yet finished, and turns back to the typewriter to continue the story and write his own means to be free of the lake. He comments to himself that "It's not a lake—it's an ocean."[8]

Special One: The SignalEdit

Continuing from the end of the main game, Alan finds himself in a surreal version of Bright Falls and realizes he is being held in Cauldron Lake. Zane directs Alan to follow a signal through a cell phone to focus and guide himself out of "the Dark Place", the realm where the Dark Presence came from and where the written word can become reality. As Alan continues to avoid and defeat various Taken, he encounters several television screens that show a more maniacal version of Alan, ranting about upcoming events, forewarning Alan of what is to come. He also encounters an ethereal version of Barry, a figment of his subconsciousness, who also helps to guide Alan safely across the abstract landscape.

Zane's signal leads Alan to a sawmill, but as he explores it, he finds himself back in a setting of his city apartment. Zane appears, and tells Alan that it is himself—the maniacal figure on the televisions—that is keeping him in the Dark Place. Alan refuses to believe that he is trapping himself, but soon faces a monstrosity of several televisions, with the irrational Alan on them that tries to kill him. Alan is able to defeat the crazed version of himself, waking up back at the cabin in the lake, and realizes that he is still trapped.[9]

Special Two: The WriterEdit

Still trapped in the Dark Place, Alan regains consciousness to find his memories of Bright Falls emerging; after leaving an amalgamation of the Cauldron Lake Lodge and the Andersons' farm, Zane tells Alan he must make his way back to the cabin via a lighthouse. The environments start to become exceedingly surreal and Alan follows Zane's path, avoiding increasing numbers of Taken. Zane warns Alan that the "irrational Alan" is still inside the cabin, controlling the Dark Place, while he himself represents the rational part of Alan; the rational Alan must regain control of the dream in order to have any chance of escaping the Dark Place. The irrational side of Alan attempts to stop him by creating delusions of Alice, extinguishing the lighthouse's light, and sending armies of Taken after him, but with Zane's help, Alan eventually reaches his goal, passing through the lighthouse to reach the cabin.

As he nears the cabin, the imaginary Barry appears and tells Alan that he will have to reject all the illusions before he can face off against the insane version of Alan, including the apparition of Barry. Alan is ready to accept that, forcing himself to fight Taken illusions of Dr. Hartman, Barry, and the Andersons, defeating them all before he is able to reenter the cabin. His crazed side is in a paranoid state on the cabin floor, and when Alan touches him, the two are made whole again. Alan realizes that he cannot let himself fall into a delusional state again for fear of never being able to escape, and returns to the typewriter to start a new story—"Return".


The Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment is known for creating the critically acclaimed Max Payne (2001), and its sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (2003). After shipping Max Payne 2, Remedy Entertainment spent some time "recovering from the crunch",[10] and started coming up with different concepts for a new project. Among these was the concept for Alan Wake.[10]

The game was announced at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for "the next generation of consoles and PCs", and was shown to the press behind closed doors in the form of a tech demo.[11][12] In 2006, Remedy partnered with Microsoft Game Studios to publish the game exclusively for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console and then-current Windows Vista PC operating system.[13][14] The first screenshots depicted the character of Alan Wake in much different attire, as well as a different layout for the town of Bright Falls, compared to the released game.[15]

All the characters featured in Alan Wake were based on real life models. Ilkka Villi and Jonna Järvenpää, the models for Alan and Alice Wake, respectively, are the only Finnish models in the game; all other models were American.[16] Voice overs were provided by native actors from Japan and America for their respective regions.[17][18]

After four years of having repeatedly demonstrated the Microsoft Windows version, in 2009, Remedy confirmed that at that point the game was being developed exclusively for the Xbox 360 and the decision to make a PC version was in Microsoft's hands.[19] After the game's release in 2010, Remedy said that bringing the game to the PC was "not on the cards at the moment."[20] However, nearly two years after its release, Remedy was able to secure the rights to publish a PC version.

The game was announced as "done" and undergoing final polishing in August 2009.[21] The game eventually went gold on 7 April 2010, and was released in May.

Originally, Remedy planned Bright Falls as a free-roaming, sandbox-style open world city, similar to those seen in the Grand Theft Auto series. After trying this idea for six months, the team decided to scrap it, because it interfered with the pacing and storytelling they intended to deliver in a thriller game.[22][23][24]

The game's enemies were designed by drawing concept art and then pouring water over them to make them feel "Just a bit off".[25] For the character of Alan Wake himself, Remedy used "concept photos" as opposed to more traditional concept artwork.[25] To research the Pacific Northwest setting for the game, a Remedy team travelled to the area, and produced a large number of photographs and videos.[26][27]

Influences and allusionsEdit

Alan Wake includes many references to works of popular culture. This cutscene directly alludes to a famous scene from The Shining.

Alan Wake was influenced by and often alludes to certain films, TV shows, and books, as well as paying homage to a number of artists and works. Remedy has explained the shared themes and ideas between the game and other existing works of popular culture as "taking something familiar to people as an element, and building something of your own, and hopefully something [that is] unique in games, but still familiar from other forms of entertainment."[28]

Bestselling author Stephen King was a major inspiration for Alan Wake. The main character as a writer whose work is coming true is a theme that has been explored by King in a number of his works.[29] Wake's narration directly alludes to King on several occasions, including the game's opening line, in which he quotes a Stephen King essay.[30] The game also pays homage to the film The Shining (based on King's novel of the same name) with a hedge maze area similar to the iconic maze in the film, among other references,[28][31] as well as King's novel Christine, with one of the in-game cars resembling her. King himself was asked for permission to use his quote. He also received copies of the game as a "thank you", but was unable to try them out because he does not own an Xbox.[32] In addition to King's work, Lake has cited the stories of Bret Easton Ellis and Neil Gaiman as influences, as well as Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves.[33]

The game's setting, Bright Falls, draws inspiration from the early 1990s TV show Twin Peaks, which was set in the titular town; both fictional small towns in the state of Washington.[29] Alfred Hitchcock is also cited as an inspiration, with the flocks of birds that often attack the protagonist being influenced by his classic horror film The Birds.[28][34]

In the game there are a number of television sets that can be found around the town in different places. They can be switched on and a short episode of the fictional series Night Springs will be played, which is influenced by the television series The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling in the late 1950s.[35]

Episodic formatEdit

Alan Wake episodes

Main game:

  • Episode 1: Nightmare
  • Episode 2: Taken
  • Episode 3: Ransom
  • Episode 4: The Truth
  • Episode 5: The Clicker
  • Episode 6: Departure

Downloadable content:

  • Special 1: The Signal
  • Special 2: The Writer

In its structure, the story of Alan Wake plays out similarly to a mystery television program, where each episode brings another piece of the puzzle to the main ongoing story, yet have a distinct plot of their own.[28] As such, Alan Wake is organised into episodes, which include narrative and plot devices normally used in TV, such as cliffhangers at the end of the episodes. A prominent borrowing from television is the "Previously on Alan Wake..." recap sequence that opens each episode, and serve to "refresh the player's memory and point to things that will become relevant shortly."[28] A different song plays at the end of every episode, imitating certain TV shows that feature different music during each episode's closing credits.

The main game itself is divided up into six episodes. Additionally, two "special features", titled "The Signal" and "The Writer", have been released as downloadable content (DLC). Together, Alan Wake and its DLCs constitute the "first season" of a bigger story. The main game is designed to have a satisfactory ending with the main character reaching his goal, while the DLCs form a two-part special that further expands on the game's story by "[continuing] the fiction and [serving] as a bridge between seasons."[24][36] While the game's developers have expressed interest in following Alan Wake up with a season two (i.e., a sequel),[20] no plans have been announced about this.

Remedy Entertainment chose the TV series storytelling format to establish a certain stylisation and pacing. The developers felt that watching episodes of certain TV shows – such as the heavily serialised series Lost – in the form of released box sets, at the viewers' pace, was a "natural way of 'consuming media'", and that this episodic format was a better fit for a long game.[28][34] Remedy lauded Lost for its pacing as a thriller TV show.[31]

Product placementEdit

A number of real-life brands and products appear in Alan Wake. The game's developers have expressed that they tried to "be very conservative and attentive towards gamers" with their use of product placement, and that they aimed "to make the world feel more real rather than put ads in-your-face."[37]

Examples of such marketing include collectable Energizer batteries and lithium batteries to insert into the player's hand-held lights. The phone service provider Verizon Wireless is another prominent brand in Alan Wake: besides Verizon branded mobile phones appearing on screen, there is a 30-second Verizon commercial viewable on one of the game's interactive TVs, as well as an allusion to the company's famous advertising line "Can you hear me now?" during a phone conversation in "The Signal" DLC. Additionally, billboards around Bright Falls advertise both Energizer and Verizon. Ford and Lincoln automobiles are also featured in the game.

Several Microsoft related brands also appear in the game. Alan and Alice Wake's car shows that it has the Microsoft-powered Ford Sync in-vehicle entertainment system. An Xbox 360 console can be seen in one section of the game, with the box of the fictional Night Springs video game next to it, which are collectibles in "The Writer" DLC episode. In multiple sections of the game, Microsoft Tag bar codes can be seen; these can be scanned in real life by the user with the appropriate software on their mobile device. When scanned, these tags redirect players to a phone number with the voicemail from one of the game's character, or to a Verizon-sponsored web site where users gain access to exclusive Alan Wake extras for their console.[38] This functionality is only available in the United States.[37]


The game's score is composed by Petri Alanko.[10] The soundtrack features the song "War" by Poets of the Fall, from the band's fourth studio album, Twilight Theater. Sam Lake said that the song " a prominent part of the Alan Wake soundtrack and the theme also links strongly to the game's storyline."[39] Poets of the Fall also perform two original songs, "Children of the Elder God" and "The Poet and the Muse", under the name Old Gods of Asgard. The band wrote the ending theme to Remedy's previous game, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, called "Late Goodbye", which is based on a poem written by Lake. "War", however, was not written specifically for Alan Wake. "Haunted" by Poe plays at the end of the second episode. "Space Oddity" by David Bowie plays over the end credits. Anomie Belle's "How Can I Be Sure" is featured in the third episode. "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson is played several times during game. On 20 July 2010, an official soundtrack consisting of 18 tracks was released.[40]

Marketing and releaseEdit

Alan Wake was first released exclusively for the Xbox 360 video game console. The game was scheduled to be released on 18 May 2010 in North America, and on 21 May in Europe. When the game went gold on 7 April 2010, the European release date was moved up a week. Therefore, the game was released in Europe first, on 14 May 2010, and then in North America on 18 May, as originally scheduled.[41][42][43][44][45] On 23 November 2010, Alan Wake was released on the Games on Demand service of Xbox Live.[46] On 16 February 2012, a version of the game for Microsoft Windows was released.

Alan Wake was also released in a limited collector's edition, packaged in a case resembling a hardcover book. The collector's edition contains the game, a book titled The Alan Wake Files, and an exclusive soundtrack CD. It also features a developer commentary, and lends access to virtual items for Xbox 360, such as themes and Avatar clothes.[47]

Microsoft Windows versionEdit

Despite the cancellation of the PC version at the same time as the Xbox 360 release as a result of Microsoft's decision, Remedy's Oskari Häkkinen stated that "PC gaming is part of Remedy's heritage" and that the developers still wanted to release a PC version of the game.[48] Remedy continued pressing Microsoft to allow the creation of a PC version, eventually gaining it in mid-2011; Häkkinen attributed Microsoft's agreement partially to their repeated requests, but as well as Remedy's good standing with Microsoft, and the time factor, having the PC version be available ahead of American Nightmare.[48] Development of the PC version began in earnest, with a small team from Remedy working with Finnish independent developer Nitro Games.[48] Instead of starting from the scrapped PC version, the team worked from the Xbox 360 code and added in new features to take advantage of more powerful elements on modern PC machines.[48] Core to the PC version was to make sure that the game played well using typical keyboard and mouse controls in addition to a controller, and to assure the graphics exceeded the limitations of the Xbox 360; Matias Myllyrinne, Remedy's CEO, stated that these elements were important, as "If this is not tuned to perfection, all the visuals are lost and the emotional touchstones are missed".[49] The PC version was completed in about five months,[48] and the game formally announced to the public in December 2011.[50]

The game, which includes the main game and both DLC chapters, was released on the Steam platform on 16 February 2012. Within 48 hours, Remedy announced that revenue from sale of this version surpassed their development and marketing costs for the game.[51] A retail PC version, distributed by Nordic Games, was released on 2 March 2012, in both a regular edition and a Collector's edition, containing a soundtrack disc, The Alan Wake Files, and other special content.[52] The PC retail release for the United States was released on 24 April 2012, being distributed by Legacy Interactive.

In December 2013, Remedy and Xbox released a special collector's edition of the hit horror game, loaded with new content on the disc, including a 44-page digital comic book with art by Gerry Kissell and Amin Amat, and written by Remedy Entertainment's Mikko Rautalahti, who also wrote the script for the video game.[53]

Bright Falls web seriesEdit

A promotional live-action tie-in web series/miniseries titled Bright Falls was made available a few weeks before the game's release on the web[54] and the Xbox Live service. The six episodes of Bright Falls were co-written and directed by Phillip Van,[55] and they serve as a prequel to the game, set in the eponymous town before Alan Wake arrives there. The main character in the series is Jake Fischer (played by Christopher Forsyth),[56] a newspaper reporter who visits the town on business.

A number of characters are shared between Bright Falls and Alan Wake, including diner waitress Rose, Dr. Emil Hartman, radio host Pat Maine and Alan Wake himself, who appears briefly in the final episode. The actors who play these characters also serve as voice actors and physical models for the characters in the game.[56]

The web series begins as Jake Fischer arrives in Bright Falls to interview Dr. Hartman on his new book, an assignment from his publication agency. After a series of encounters with local townspeople, Jake soon finds himself the victim of long periods of lost time and black outs. He finds himself waking up in the middle of a forest and other locations where he had not been previously. He also develops an aversion towards lights and daytime. The longer he stays in Bright Falls, the more violent his behaviour becomes. When he realises this, he tries to duct-tape himself to a refrigerator and recording videotape himself in his sleep to see what might be causing the behaviour. It is implied that he is being completely taken over by the Dark Presence, to the point of murdering several people. He then vanishes, just before the arrival of Alan and Alice Wake.

Downloadable contentEdit

During 2010, two "special feature" episodes of Alan Wake were developed and released as downloadable content (DLC) on the Xbox Live service, which serve to bridge the gap between the game's ending, and a possible sequel.

The first of the two, titled "The Signal", was released on 27 July 2010.[57] David Houghton of GamesRadar+ said it was one of the best segments of the game, but worried that it made the main game feel comparatively less impressive.[58]

The second episode, "The Writer", was released on 12 October 2010.[59][60] Erik Brudvig of IGN called it a must-buy for anyone that already purchased "The Signal", and said it satisfyingly closed out the game's story. He did feel that both DLCs were pricey for the amount of content they provided.[61]


The limited collector's edition of the game includes a 144-page book called The Alan Wake Files, which expands on the storyline of the game.[47] A novelisation of Alan Wake was written by Rick Burroughs.[62] An art/making of book, entitled Alan Wake: Illuminated is also available.[63]


Critical responseEdit

Aggregate score
Metacritic(X360) 83/100[64]
(PC) 83/100[65]
Review scores
Game Informer8.5/10[69]
OXM (US)9/10[73]
Spawn Kill8.5/10[74]
IGNEditors' Choice Award[72]
TimeNo. 1 video game of 2010

Alan Wake received "generally favorable" reviews on both platforms according to review aggregator Metacritic.[64][65]

Michael Plant from The Independent gave the game a score of 5/5. He praised Alan Wake for its "flawless pacing", which "ensures a compulsive experience". The editing and plot were also received very positively, making the game "the kind of experience the current console generation was made for."[76]

The Daily Telegraph rated the game 9/10 with editor Nick Cowen being impressed by its "stunning" look, stating the town of Bright Falls and its surrounding environment to be "authentic" in terms of architecture, vegetation, weather and lighting. He described the atmosphere as being able to "...turn on a dime from feeling safe and serene to one of choking menace and foreboding...". Combat mechanics and plot were also praised with the first making "the player feel constantly under threat." and the latter being described as one of the game's "strongest assets". Criticism included the quality of the facial animation and the relatively short length of the game.[77]

Dirk Lammers said the game kept "players on the edge of their seats", giving a final score of 4 out of 4 in his review for the Associated Press.[78] Matt Greenop from The New Zealand Herald rated the game 5/5 and praised the game's "excellent pace" due to its episodic format. He also praised the "chilling" storyline, "brilliant environments" and concluded the game to be "one of the most innovative and entertaining titles so far this year."[79] William Vitka from the New York Post graded it B+, praising the game for its "scary atmosphere", music, graphics and "surprising level of complexity" in combat, but commented negatively on the game's animation and storyline.[80]

Brian Crecente, editor-in-chief of Kotaku, praised the general use of light as a gameplay-mechanic. He commented on the episodic structure, saying it made the player feel satisfied even after short gameplay sessions. He also praised the overall storyline, having played the final episode thrice in a row, saying: "For the first time in my life, I have experienced something that plays like a game but has the impact of a movie... Alan Wake is a powerful ride, an experience bound to leave you thinking about it and wanting more for days after its completion." He criticised the game for not providing enough information about Wake and his wife, despite being "packed with memorable people", but concluded that the game "redefines interactive storytelling".[81]

Tom McShea criticised the game for lacking "surprising, memorable gameplay moments" in his review for GameSpot, but hailed it for its "fresh" story-telling, great original as well as licensed music, "subtle" lighting effects, which, along with the soundtrack, "create a disturbing atmosphere", "satisfying" combat system and "clever" inclusion of collectibles, giving a final score of 8.5/10.[6]

IGN's Charles Onyett scored the game 9/10, providing it with the "Editors' Choice Award". He described it as "hard to put down once you have started", and appreciated the game for its episodic structure, "interesting" story-telling mechanic, lighting effects, soundtrack and combat system, which he described as "fast and responsive", but criticised the writing as "uneven". The game received high marks for its "strong atmosphere", "fun gameplay", and "great visuals", but lost some due to its "weak ending".[72]

Tom Orry from also awarded a score of 9/10, praising the game for its "clever narrative", "incredible atmosphere" and soundtrack which he described as "one of the best and most memorable I've ever heard in a video game".[82] GameTrailers gave the game an 8.6/10. The review praised the game's presentation for "selling you completely on its twisted nightmare", and providing a "genuine sense of dread".[71] Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson awarded a score of 7/10, stating that although she did not consider the game to be very original, she found it accessible and undemanding, with a "neat combat mechanic".[68]

Chris Kohler from Wired magazine was more critical and gave it 6/10, saying "when presented with an infinite number of possible resolutions, any answer is going to feel arbitrary. Alan Wake starts strong but finishes weak. Neither the gameplay nor the story deliver on their potential by the time the credits roll". Kohler, however, praised main character, certain gameplay decisions and "unique story".[75]


Alan Wake has received a number of nominations and awards for its achievements in video gaming in 2010. Editors of Time magazine rendered Alan Wake the best video game of 2010.[1] In its Best Xbox 360 Games of 2010 list, IGN awarded Alan Wake "Best Horror Game",[94] and also nominated it for "Best Story,"[96] "Coolest Atmosphere,"[97] "Most Innovative Gameplay,"[98] and "Best Character" (for the character of Alan Wake).[95] The game was nominated in the "Best Xbox 360 Game" category at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, and received three nominations at the 2nd Annual Inside Gaming Awards in the categories "Best Narrative," "Best Sound Design" and "Most Compelling Character" (for Alan Wake).[104][105] GameSpot's Best Games of 2010 Awards featured seven nominations for the game, including "Best Story" and "Best Writing/Dialogue," and won the reader's choice award for "Best Original IP."[106] IGN ranked it No. 61 in their "Top Modern Games" ranking.[107]

The game's soundtrack has won Best Score – European at the 2010 Annual Game Music Awards, with the panel stating "Breaking composer Petri Alanko's expansive score for the critically acclaimed Alan Wake captured the hearts of gamers and stand-alone listeners alike with its intimate orchestrations and psychological explorations."[84]


NPD Group stated sales for the first two weeks reached 145,000 units.[108] According to a report, Alan Wake is the second most illegally copied Xbox 360 game of 2010, with more than 1.1 million downloads.[109] It includes an amusing feature where if "pirated", the character wears an eye patch during the game. According to a report by IndustryGamers, sales of Alan Wake would be much higher than previously estimated, at around 1.4 million, as of December 2011. This includes the digital sales of the game during the Xbox 360 2011 Holiday bundle, which included a token to download Alan Wake, as well as a retail copy of Forza Motorsport 3.

On 13 March 2012, Remedy Entertainment announced that the game has passed 2 million copies sold, including Xbox 360 and PC.[110] On 23 May 2013, Remedy creative director Sam Lake announced that the game and its standalone follow up had sold 3 million copies.[111] On 25 March 2015, Remedy's CEO Matias Myllyrinne tweeted that the franchise had sold over 4.5 million units.[112] The following month a Polygon story on the game's prototype for a sequel mentioned that Alan Wake had sold more than 3.2 million copies.[113]

Music licensing issuesEdit

Due to expiring music licenses, all digital and retail versions of Alan Wake were pulled from purchase from the various storefronts as of 15 May 2017, though Remedy offered a large discount for the title in the days prior to removal. The removal does not affect those who already own the game, nor does it impact the availability of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, though that title will likely be affected similarly when its own licensing deals expire.[114]

However, by October 2018, Remedy had been able to rework the music licensing details with Microsoft's help, and the game was made available again on Windows storefronts, with the original music tracks. Remedy is currently working to also secure the rights for the Xbox platform in the near future.[115][116][117]

Spin-off and sequelEdit

At Alan Wake's release, Remedy had intended for a sequel; developer Oskari Häkkinen stated that Remedy saw the game as "Season 1" and its DLC was to "bridge the gap to what we're working towards."[36] Häkkinen stated they were not directly working on a sequel at that time, as Microsoft had focused them to complete the DLC.[118] Writer Mikko Rautalahti adds the story is "bigger than one game" and the sequel would be "weird and wonderful".[119]

In May 2011, leaked information led to Remedy confirming they were working on a new Alan Wake project, but affirmed it was not a full sequel.[120] This was ultimately revealed to be Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a short standalone game released in 2012 that follows Alan's adventures after the first game that they wanted to release on the Xbox Live Arcade platform. The Remedy team had looked at a project borrowing from zombie and monster films like From Dusk till Dawn, and wanted to create more of a sandbox mode for players to fight off waves of enemies (which became the game's Arcade mode, "Fight Till Dawn"); they then worked these elements into Alan's story, keeping the theme of The Twilight Zone to progress the story.[121]

In May 2013, a new game by Remedy was announced at the Xbox One event called Quantum Break, before explaining the following day that a sequel to Alan Wake had been postponed. Despite their love of the property and initially beginning work on a sequel, Alan Wake was not financially successful enough to receive the funding they needed to continue developing the sequel at the time.[122] In April 2015, Polygon published an article describing the development process of Alan Wake 2 that started shortly after the first game released. Alan Wake 2 already had a working prototype and Remedy was prepared to pitch the game to Microsoft. However, according to Sam Lake, Remedy's founder, Microsoft wanted something else and development of the sequel has shifted to Quantum Break. Most of the ideas for Alan Wake 2 were implemented on American Nightmare, like the game's location, the Arizona Desert, and the concept of Taken enemies with special abilities.[113]

In July 2018, Remedy CEO Telo Virtala stated that any further sequels to Alan Wake would require Microsoft Studios' approval as the publishing rights holder, though Remedy otherwise owns all other IP rights to the series. Virtala stated: "Considering our history... Alan Wake was really interesting but it was a collaboration with Microsoft. Due to certain reasons, it never got a sequel."[123] Director of communications Thomas Puha stated in April 2019 that Remedy had briefly returned to work on an Alan Wake property about two years prior, but the effort did not work out, and the company is presently booked for the next few years, between their own new game Control, supporting Smilegate on its game CrossFire, and another new project. Puha said that the only limited factor for them to work on an Alan Wake sequel was "time, money, and resources".[124]

In July 2019, Remedy fully acquired the rights to Alan Wake from Microsoft, including a one-time royalty payment of about 2.5 million for the game series' past sales.[125]

Following Alan Wake: American Nightmare, Remedy released Quantum Break in 2016, and then Control in 2019. Control is based on a fictional Federal Bureau of Control that seeks out paranormal activity and secures objects that may be behind these "Altered World Events" (AWEs). Control has several Easter eggs to Alan Wake, with the events of Bright Falls being treated as an AWE for the Bureau. Elements of Alan Wake, such as Alan himself, the typewriter and cabin, and the Clicker, are mentioned directly by in-game memos within Control.[126][127]

Television showEdit

In September 2018, Remedy Entertainment and Contradiction Films announced plans to develop a live-action Alan Wake series, with Peter Calloway as the showrunner and Remedy's Sam Lake as executive producer. Contradiction Film's Tomas Harlan had seen Alan Wake's potential as a television series, in part that the game was constructed in episodic chapters and presented in a linear fashion, and had spoken to Lake about it several times, and in 2018 began to start on a firm planning process, which including bringing Calloway on board during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018. The show plans to use concepts from the scrapped Alan Wake 2, as well as building upon what the first game and American Nightmare provided; Harlan does not expect the series to be in lock-step with the game and while Alan Wake would be the central character of the show, they would spend more time developing his companions from the game. The group planned to shop the show around to networks in October.[128]


  1. ^ Ported to Microsoft Windows together with Nitro Games.


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External linksEdit