While writing this review I was tempted to open with some prose in the style of Alan Wake, I mention this only so that you know you dodged a bullet. American Nightmare continues where the first title left off, only this time you are stuck in an episode of the fictional serial Night Springs.
Alan comes to under some rubble, remembering nothing. He goes in search of pages from his manuscript to try and figure out what is going on. In American Nightmare there is a new combatant in the form of Mr. Scratch, which is the embodiment of the part of Alan’s personality that wants to do evil things. Mr. Scratch proves to be a solid and enjoyable enemy; he is everything an enemy should be. American Nightmare doesn’t feel like an XBLA title, it feels like a full retail release. While the story isn’t nearly as complex as the original title it is a good story. One thing to note though it that it does a bit of Ground Hog’s Day, I am referring to the Bill Murray film of course, so if you didn’t like that movie then you might get frustrated with this game as the game essentially restarts 3 times. Remedy tries to remedy that (see what I did there) by having some of the tasks completed in the second and third play throughs. The problem here is that you are still playing through the same sections multiple times and while this makes for a compelling story, it does little for gameplay.
The two tier combat system where you have to burn off the darkness with your flashlight and then shoot them with your gun is back and they have included some new enemies. One of the new baddies will split if you try to burn off the darkness, so you will need to just shoot them from the get go; this can trip you up as they tend to show up in tense combat scenarios and often you don’t realize what kind of enemy they are until they have already split which adds a bit of challenge. The combat is still some of the most satisfying in an action game and if you have never played Alan Wake then it is certainly worth your time.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare offers a fair amount of value for your money. The game is $15, which might turn off some people, but with an amazing combat system and a compelling story as well as the addition of an arcade mode the game is well worth it. If you are a fan of the first game this is a no brainer, however if you haven’t played Alan Wake before and the idea of playing through the same scenario multiple times has completely turned you off then this probably isn’t the title for you. However if you are looking for a game with great combat and a great story, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is best in class.
Played On: Xbox 360
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: 2/22/12