American Nightmare Extends the Alan Wake Mythology

Geek Culture

I don’t watch horror films, not since a viewing of The Thing when I was about 10 and having nightmares for weeks. However there was something about Alan Wake that hooked me in.

I found that, now a grownup (or so I am told), I could really enjoy the shocks and chills the game threw at me. Something about the open world environment added to the sense of being lost in the woods at night, and how thrilling that might feel. If you’ve not played it you can now get it on PC ($29.99 Amazon) as well as on 360 ($19.99 Amazon).

I was talking to a fellow dad blogger (Mark Clapham) about how my kids seemed much more enthusiastic about being scared than I did at their age. They still hide behind the sofa, but they seem to enjoy the whole theatrics of being scared.

This turned into a discussion of what we found scary in games, and how that related to the new Alan Wake release, American Nightmare. Unlike the original, it’s a download game but extends both the story and game play in interesting ways. It wasn’t long before we’d hatched our own theory about what made Alan Wake such a compelling proposition — even for “namby pamby” gamers like me.

Clapham said all this much better that I ever could in his account of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare:

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<cite>Alan Wake's American Nightmare</cite> XBLA<cite>Alan Wake's American Nightmare</cite> XBLA

Alan Wake's American Nightmare XBLA

Back in Story Mode, between the fights an interesting, looping story develops, and a lot of back story and depth is added if you track down all the manuscript pages, radio and TV shows scattered throughout the game. You’ll be missing out if you don’t read the manuscript pages in particular, as they’re crucial to the story, and to be honest I don’t see why you would bother playing a story driven game like Alan Wake and not try to grab as much of the narrative as possible.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare isn’t perfect, then, but it is an interesting expansion of the Alan Wake universe, which provides a good chunk of story advancement and some exciting, shadow-blasting thrills. It’s not the full sequel fans might be hoping for but there’s a lot of content in American Nightmare, and developments in the series’ mythology that leave plenty of room for future expansion.

Read Clapham’s full American Nightmare review.

It’s the mythology that he talks about here that made me most excited for more of Alan Wake. As well as a believable world, it was the characters of Bright Falls that I wanted to spend more time with. Alan Wake is still much too mature for my kids, but I’ll look forward to sharing it with them when they are old enough.

Alan Wake Special Editions and new PC version available from Amazon.

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