Alan Wake's American Nightmare
|Alan Wake's American Nightmare|
|Publisher(s)||Xbox Live Arcade
|Release date(s)||Xbox Live Arcade
22 February 2012
Alan Wake's American Nightmare is a psychological survival horror video game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios. The game is a downloadable follow-up to its predecessor, Alan Wake, but is not a sequel per se, rather serving as an in universe spinoff. The game is an Xbox Live Arcade title and was released on 22 February 2012 worldwide. A Microsoft Windows version was released on 22 May 2012 in North America, 29 June 2012 in Europe and 15 November 2012 in Australia.
Like its predecessor, the game received mostly positive reviews. Critics praised the change of style and tone from the earlier themes of isolation, light versus darkness, and melancholy, utilizing psychological horror tropes, found in Alan Wake to the madcap, Pulp-influenced themes in Alan Wake's American Nightmare, utilizing black comedy tropes found in works by Quentin Tarantino.
The plot of American Nightmare is framed by the narration of an episode of the fictional TV show, "Night Springs," which follows the style of The Twilight Zone and appeared on television screens throughout the original Alan Wake.
Alan Wake's friend and manager, Barry, is asleep in a motel room. The narration explains that Alan is attempting to chase down the "herald of darkness", Mr. Scratch, who is Alan's evil doppelganger created by a dark force. Scratch is determined to take away everything Alan loves, including his wife, Alice. Alan, as the "champion of light," has the ability to rewrite reality, and was able to write his escape from Cauldron Lake in Washington. He ends up near the small town of Night Springs, Arizona, and learns that he has been missing from the real world for nearly two years.
A nearby oil derrick erupts with several foes controlled by Mr. Scratch. Seeking light, Alan runs to a nearby motel, where he encounters Emma Sloan, who at first thinks he is Mr. Scratch, since they look identical. She tells Alan that Scratch was at the motel the night before, and provides Alan with a typewritten page, a way to alter reality to destroy the derrick and stop the foes. Alan follows its instructions, which causes a meteor to collide with an artificial satellite, sending it hurtling towards the ground, where it then collides with the oil derrick. While Alan is away performing this task, the dark forces consume Emma.
Following clues he found at the motel, along with a set of keys, Alan heads to a nearby observatory. There, Dr. Rachel Meadows, who also met Mr. Scratch previously, is tracking a mysterious signal sent just before the satellite was knocked out of orbit. Rachel tells Alan that Mr. Scratch was very interested in this signal, and Alan surmises that it must contain the key to fighting the darkness. While attempting to obtain the complete signal, the observatory's telescope is sabotaged by the darkness, which reinforces Alan's belief that the signal contains something he needs. After repairing the damage, a portion of the signal comes through that translates into a page of a story: a new reality that Alan can presumably implement.
The page points him to a nearby drive-in theater, where he meets Serena Valdivia, who is under the influence of the darkness. After freeing her by restoring power and switching the lights on, Serena tells Alan that Mr. Scratch is trying to prevent the sun from ever rising again. She gives Alan the security code to the projection room where he can change reality. Alan uses the incomplete message to try to set the new reality. However, as the message is only partial, the new reality does not take effect. Mr. Scratch appears, gloating, and sends Alan back in time to a few hours before.
Waking up again near the motel, Alan repeats many of the same motions. Emma and Rachel still have some deja vu of the previous loop's events, and have helped perform some of Alan's previous tasks for him. Despite his efforts to change events this time around, Emma is nevertheless consumed again by the darkness. Rachel is able to capture a longer portion of the signal this time, but it is still incomplete. When Alan returns to the drive-in theater, he is again unable to complete the new reality and is sent back in time again by Mr. Scratch.
Alan repeats his actions for a third time, but this time, he is able to save Emma and gain the complete message from Rachel. He sets the correct series of events in the projection room, which triggers the projector to show a film made by Alice. Mr. Scratch appears again, but discovers that Alan has successfully written the new reality, and he is burned out of existence by the film. On the screen, Alan appears to reunite with Alice along a sun-lit shoreline; however, the narrator notes that this could quite possibly be just a figment of Alan's imagination, since he is still trapped in the Dark Place.
During the credits, it is revealed that the name of the episode of Night Springs that Alan wrote himself into was titled "Return", a reference to the manuscript he began to type at the end of Special Two: The Writer.
In a post-credits scene, Barry wakes up suddenly, believing he has heard Alan's voice.
Alan Wake's American Nightmare makes use of the same combat mechanics found in the original Alan Wake: Alan has a flashlight, which must be focused on enemies before firing weapons at them. American Nightmare is more battle-focused, containing more ammunition and a wider variety of weapons, including a machine gun, a nail gun, a crossbow, and combat shotguns, among others. Some weapons are unlocked via cases found throughout the maps, which each require a certain number of acquired manuscript pages to open. Collectible pages were also featured in the original Alan Wake, though they had only served to provide an additional story element.
The game also features an arcade mode, where Alan is set against increasingly difficult waves of enemies. New arcade maps are unlocked as they are successfully beaten, while available weapons are determined by the number of pages that have been recovered in story mode.
On 10 May 2011, Oskari Häkkinen from Remedy told Joystiq, who had leaked an announcement rumor, that the official announcement of this installment was coming. He stressed that it would not be considered "Alan Wake 2", but neither would it be mere add-on content. Häkkinen would not get any more specific than that.
Spike Video Game Awards 2011 showed a new trailer for the game on 10 December 2011. It had been speculated that the game would be an Xbox Live Arcade game named "Alan Wake's Night Springs". The first image for the game was released by GameInformer on 7 November 2011. Just before the Video Game Awards, IGN released a screenshot of the game, along with the official title.
Following rumors that the game would be released for Microsoft Windows, Remedy announced in early May 2012 that the game will be available for the platform on 22 May 2012. This followed Remedy's port of the original Alan Wake to the Windows platform a few months earlier.
Petri Alanko, the composer from the first game returns to score American Nightmare. Licensed music includes the song "Club Foot" by the British Indie band Kasabian, which plays a pivotal role in the game's narrative. Poets of the Fall also compose two new songs; "The Happy Song" which is featured whenever Mr Scratch appears, and "Balance Slays the Demon" under the fictional band 'Old Gods of Asgard'.
American Nightmare has received a positive reception. IGN scored the game an 8/10, praising its production and action elements, but criticizes the sub-par story, the oddly written dialogue, and lack of suspense. In the first week of release, the game was the top-selling Arcade game on Xbox Live.
Remedy Entertainment has stated that this is not the last Alan Wake game, and that a sequel is in development. In May 2013, Remedy confirmed they were not currently developing a new Alan Wake, instead focusing on a new game for the Xbox One called Quantum Break.
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