An imagination gone wild can be a dangerous thing, something which Alan Wake finds out in the final piece of DLC, The Writer.
In a similar vein to the preceding DLC, The Signal, you find yourself trapped in the dark place struggling to hold onto your sanity amidst a landscape of warped versions of past places in Alan’s life. Remedy should be commended for the unique twisted dreamscape that you have to roam as it manages the hard task of being familar and yet so different, though just as hostile as ever if not even more.
Alan’s break down of reality gives the team a free reign to create a variety of strange setpieces that delight and confuse. With no restraints you just have to accept that a rowing boat can materialise from nothingness with the help of a flashlight. It is just like stepping into a Dalí painting.
The action words make another appearance which get over the clunky running and gunning of Wake himself but in this case they play less of an important role than in The Signal, merely acting as signposts and environmental hazards. That’s not to say that they should be removed entirely as they work beautifully in the last stretch through the dark towards the lighthouse, it’s just that there aren’t any of the bad words from the first DLC which gave me a taste of what it would be like to be afraid of words.
But then this time you should be more afraid of the vast numbers of possessed who you simply have to flee from as facing groups of ten is a common occurance. The only annoyance is a gripe I had with the original in that Wake can’t sprint to save his life thanks to the physique of a guy who spends a lot of time at a desk (something I can relate to). This also factors into some irritating platform sections at the start as the man has limited mobility.
The Writer is an improvement upon The Signal as a result of how the story seemingly melds with the level design with some exceptionally interesting moments that the first content lacked. In addition there is a notable cutdown in the number of collectibles to be found, something which is always a welcome relief.
Fans may be annoyed at the lack of any major story elements answered by this DLC but then the major fun of Alan Wake is not knowing the full story and just accepting the bizarre such as believing in cyberpunk big daddy. If you want to learn a little more about Zane or you just want to wander the surreal landscapes of the dark place then this might be worth a purchase now, otherwise wait until it goes down in price. It’ll probably be a while until the sequel surfaces.