For more than a decade PlayStation gamers were unable to enjoy Alan Wake as the 2010 action-horror game was locked to the Xbox 360 console. That was until the welcome release of Alan Wake Remastered in September 2021, and now this spruced-up version of the cult classic is part of the PlayStation Plus monthly lineup for July on PS5 and PS4.
The remasters inclusion in the service’s rotating selection of games is particularly well-timed because its long-awaited sequel recently received an October 17 release date. So, if Alan Wake 2 caught your eye during the Summer Games Fest showcase, and you’ve yet to play the original, its inclusion on PlayStation Plus is the ideal opportunity.
Alan Wake may be more than 13 years old, but it’s mostly stood the test of time with enjoyable gameplay and a twisting narrative that is highly compelling. So long as you can tolerate some less-than-impressive visuals even on PS5, you’re in for a real treat with Alan Wake Remastered.
Alan Wake's story is superb
Presented in an episodic fashion with each chapter beginning with a “previously on Alan Wake” recap and ending with a dramatic cliffhanger, this third-person action game casts you as the eponymous writer on a mission to find his wife after she goes missing in the idyllic lake town of Bright Falls.
If his lost spouse wasn’t enough to contend with, Alan has also found several pages of strange manuscripts signed with his name. The only problem is he doesn’t remember writing it, and the sinister events described within the pages are starting to come true as the townfolk are possessed by a dark force.
The game’s story tips its hat very strongly to the novel of American author Stephen King, and there’s also a sprinkling of the cult classic TV show Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure. It’s a highly compelling yarn, and it remains so for the entirety of the campaign’s breezy eight-hour length.
Playing through Alan Wake often feels like you’re binging a great mystery drama on Netflix. When one chapter ends don’t be surprised if you’re extremely eager to continue playing to find out what happens next. Alan Wake Remastered also includes the game’s two DLC chapters, which add a little closure to the base game’s rather ambiguous ending (but the door is still left plenty ajar for Alan Wake 2.)
Things go bump in the night
It’s not just Alan Wake’s narrative chops that have stood the test of time either. It’s still pretty fun to play even in 2023. Using a one-two combination of a gun and flashlight, you’ll fight off a variety of corrupted townfolks. In essence, you shine your torch to weaken an enemy’s defenses enough to pump them full of lead.
While combats encounters do get a little repetitive in the game’s back half, there’s something inherently satisfying about stopping a hulking enemy in its tracks by blasting them with a beam of light before popping off a few headshots in order to reduce them to a shower of shiny sparks. Plus, additional items like flares and flashbangs add some much-needed versatility to your arsenal.
Outside of combat, there are a few very simple puzzles to solve, collectibles accrue — collectibles are well worth seeking out as they flesh out the story — and there are even a couple of driving sections. Mercifully you’re not behind the wheel for very long because these parts of the game aren't very good even by 2010 standards.
A little dog eared
While Alan Wake Remastered does present the original game in stunning 4K at 60 fps on PS5, there’s no escaping the fact this is an upscaled port rather than a full remake. In 2023, the first Alan Wake is starting to show its age visually.
It’s by no means an ugly game — its visual design is very coherent — but you’re pretty unlikely to mistake it for a game developed specifically for current hardware. This is most apparent in the stiff animations and the occasionally poor lip-syncing. But these can easily be categorized as minor blemishes that do little to detract from the numerous strengths of Alan Wake.
Even accounting for its few dated aspects, Alan Wake Remastered is a real must-play. If you’ve not experienced it before, you absolutely should correct that mistake as soon as possible. And if you’re already acquainted with Mr. Wake, there’s never been a better time to replay this cult masterpiece than right now.