Gaming, Linux, Programming by day. Atheism and tolerance by night. Sci-Fi television all hours of the day.
TBR BOOK JAR!! :D
Recently my TBR pile has been growing (especially with my recent hauls) and I figured this would be the perfect way to get started on some those titles.
I’ve put books in the jar that I own and have yet to read as well as books that I want to read but have yet to purchase. Hopefully this will help me get around to some of the trilogies and classics that I have been neglecting :)
Plus it takes away the tough decisions involved in choosing a book when there are so many choices :)
We’re seriously considering this option for dealing with our post-holiday out-of-control TBR shelves…
Where has this idea been for all of our reading lives? So smart!
I got Alan Wake during the Steam sale. I’m glad I waited until the Steam sale.
Let’s focus on the things it does right first, because it does do some things right.
* Except this is supposed to be a horror/drama, so maybe that’s not a good thing after all.
That said, the game is quite clearly technically a masterpiece. And I mean technically — the team behind the actual programming did a fantastic job.
Now that I’ve given credit where it is due, let’s jump right into everything else.
The plot is just awful. It is, in fact, the reason I didn’t snatch this up the day it was released. If I see one more story about a horror writer whose writing starts to mysteriously come true I think I might give up on “horror” fiction altogether.
Oh, sorry, I stand corrected: in this one he doesn’t remember writing the things which are coming true. Because amnesia is the best plot device.
Wake seems obsessed with Stephen King, which is interesting because he doesn’t seem to know anything about Stephen King’s writing. Maybe he’s seen the movies. Maybe he’s just seen clips from the movies on YouTube.
Really what it seems like is that the game writers just wanted to show off that they knew something about Stephen King. As soon as an object comes to life for the first time, Wake tells us that Stephen King has objects that come to life in his books. Well you know what? So does JK Rowling, but I don’t see any magic wands in the game.
The writers of the game included a lot of references to HP Lovecraft, which is something I usually have orgasms over. Instead, it just bugs me that these references are thrown in but the writers apparently do not understand how Lovecraftian horror or, for that matter, any horror actually works. So here’s some free advice:
The episodic nature of the game also means that we absolutely know that our character will survive this next trek through the woods. It means we know exactly when the next big revelation will take place. It means we
I read one review which highly praised the pacing of Alan Wake. I found this interesting, because the level design pretty much seems to be:
This means we’re effectively reliving six renditions of the same story, just with slightly different inputs (and outputs). This is, in short, boring.
Why doesn’t Alan have any sort of melee? If he’s out of ammo he just runs around like a goddamn moron trying to score a ‘cinematic dodge’ — I don’t care what kind of dodge it is as long as I don’t get hit.
Why can’t he pick up stuff and throw it in the path of his enemies? I can see a shovel right there. Nope. None of that. Instead we’ll hold the flashlight tighter. I’m all for suspension of disbelief but the flashlight mechanic was a bit much.
That said, I have to harken back to two survival horror games that did something unique with combat systems that worked well:
In Condemned: Criminal Origins, you had to use anything you could get your hands on, at least until it broke and left you defenseless. If you managed to find a ranged weapon, it was your lucky day, but hot damn you better use those shots well. In Alan Wake, there are boxes on all of the paths that have revolver rounds and product placement batteries in them. Everywhere.
Of course, the sudde appearance of a BOTTOMLESS BARRELL OF AMMO also breaks tension because you know you’re about to have a boss fight. What Park Ranger keeps a wheelbarrow full of revolver rounds by the goddamn picnic tables?
That’s the weapons. but let’s talk about the flashlight.
In Fatal Frame (or at least in the sequel - I never got the chance to play the first), your only weapon was a camera. Throughout the game, you can upgrade your camera with different types of lenses and film that help you take out different types of enemies.
This worked in Fatal Frame because an innocuous object was your only weapon, but it was a weapon.
This does not work in Alan Wake. It doesn’t work because your flashlight does not get you out of using your ranged weapons. It’s just a precursor.
Your flashlight eventually gets an upgrade…it gets more battery power, which is cute since the batteries recharge themselves automagically. If, like me, you obsess over efficiency, you get pretty good at using your flashlight in such a way that battery power becomes a non-issue, so this upgrade is…well, stupid.
Combat is therefore repetetive: shine your light to dispel the darkness, fire guns. Unless you have a flare gun, which does both things at the same time. Or a flash-bang, which is the same thing as a flare gun in this context.
Something clicked when I was busy trying to destroy a tractor with a flashlight:
The Darkness needs Alan to write to gain power, but then keeps trying to kill him at the same time.
I then realized the plot would have been greatly improved if it had gone something like this instead:
The Darkness needs Alan to write to gain power (actually, I liked that single aspect of the actual plot, even if it’s not original) and starts doing things to act as Alan’s muse. Alan finally, after years of frustration, begins wanting to write again, and as he writes the Darkness consumes him. Then a week disappears. Then he finally realizes Alice is missing. His quest then becomes more interesting because we as an audience know it was probably he who did something to Alice (fuck the kidnapper bullshit) while he unravels this. Now, this isn’t all that original either, but it is definietly more interesting. The further Alan goes, the more the Darkness consumes him, the more he enjoys it, but the more he knows he has to pull himself out if he wants to save Alice who, let’s face it, was dead the moment her handsome face showed itself.
Of course, sure, there are a lot of games where we all think of how we could have written it better, but everything else summing up to the fact that whoever wrote this game clearly knows nothing about horror fiction or the slow burn made me realize that the plot probably would not redeem itself, and it just wasn’t fun enough to continue.
So I ALT+F4’d and deleted it.
Asked by ellie490
Hm… I dunno.. I don’t think it’s that. There’s a lot of episodes that match those vague criteria.
I think @ellie490 is right, actually. The plot synopsis of that episode definitely rings many, many bells.