The Average Gamer

Alan Wake: The Signal Review (360)

After the rip roaring success of Tom Wallis’ review of Alan Wake, he decided to do another spot of guest writing from Newb Review; taking a look at the first bit of DLC for the critically acclaimed Alan Wake.

If you bought a new copy of the game, or if you were lucky enough to pick up a second hand copy of Alan Wake with a working download code, The Signal is the first of two downloadable episodes, building on the main plot of Alan Wake. Whilst there was a charge for downloading the game without this free code, at time of writing the DLC is free, which kind of defeats the purpose of having the code in the box in the first place…

If you didn’t like Alan Wake then firstly, why are you downloading DLC for a game you don’t like? And secondly, you won’t like The Signal. Whilst this expands on the story of Alan Wake, the same engine, gameplay mechanics and characters are used throughout. Also, if you were hoping for some kind of resolution to the Alan Wake trope, I’m afraid you’re fresh out of luck.

This is probably the biggest grievance I have with this DLC; whilst I’m ok with a game ending on a cliffhanger, I take umbrage with an additional episode that’s been billed as anything other than an addition to the perplexity of the plot. The Signal does very little to alleviate any frustrations felt at the end of the main game. It has been suggested that the second DLC episode, The Writer, actually answers some of those questions, my utter disinterest with almost everything The Signal will make me think twice before shelling out for more confusion.

At the end of Alan Wake, the bizarre surroundings were given another level of abstraction as floating words began to appear throughout the world. This mechanic provided some interest during the final chapter of the game; however it is overused in The Signal. Pointing your torchlight at the word “tools” will generate batteries, flares and ammunition. Likewise pointing at the word “enemy” will spawn several of the taken, who must then be dealt with suitably. Whilst one section inserts a kind of puzzle-like minefield of these floating words, you soon realise that the enemies that spawn are dealt with in exactly the same way as everything else in the game.

Unfortunately the vehicles make an unwelcome return. By no means are these as prevalent as in the main game, but the light-as-a-toy-car handling still grates, even if it is only for one small section of this episode. There is some evidence to suggest that the developers themselves have noticed how bad the driving is, as they’ve added the achievement “Licence Revoked”, which rewards you for not using any vehicles. Sufficed to say, I attained this achievement fairly quickly.

Not convinced? Have a look at Tom’s earlier review of the full Alan Wake game.

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