Narrative Recursion

There are certain narrative devices that I’m a sucker for. One of those is the time loop. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare takes the time loop and runs with it. As this review covers a sequel, expect there to be spoilers about the previous game: Alan Wake.

American Nightmare picks up after the two DLCs for the original Alan Wake. Wake is still lost in the Dark Place and attempting to find his way back into the real world. To do that, he has written himself an escape plan. Of course, as with the original game, the act of calling upon the world-shaping narrative power of the Dark Place has mostly destroyed his memory of what he actually planned to do.

The complication this time, though, is that his foe is no longer the large and unknown dark place, but a sentient, and clever at that, doppelganger. Wake’s opponent has trapped him in the work that Wake created to escape the Dark Place and simply keeps looping him through it, making this more difficult each time.

In gameplay terms, this comes together as playing through each of about 4 or 5 areas three times each. Though the levels are the same, the other characters in each place slowly become aware of their situation and help Wake more on each pass.

The game plays much like its predecessor, but has become somewhat more actiony with the introduction of a greater variety of enemies. In keeping with that, this iteration, unlike the original, doesn’t periodically confiscate your equipment.

I think that, as a bridge between Alan Wake and its eventual sequel, it is pretty solid. What I really want though, is Alan Wake 2.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare: 1

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