The second and final downloadable content for Alan Wake has finally arrived and shows clear improvements over the first free (for first time purchasers) DLC. Coming in at 560 MS points, The Writer continues off where The Signal came to a close – attempting to clarify some unanswered questions left behind from the original story arc.
Lost in Alan’s mind the developers have an open playing field this time around to do as they wish (not that it stopped them before) and they take every opportunity to flip the world upside down, and in some cases taking that phrase literally. The world around you will be a broken mess to what you have experienced in prior episodes, and thankfully this allows for some of the most creative set pieces of the game yet.
Fighting for your sanity you will be in constant danger of environmental pitfalls that often have you walking a fine line or simply enjoying the ride as you watch the world fall apart around you. As always this is only half of your problems as there are constant barrage of enemies to fend off, typically far too many than can be handled with the sparse ammo available. This is where the chapter’s clever use of word play comes in, having you manipulate the environment far more than usual, and with some added sensibility to its inclusions! This can come in the form of the word ‘boom!’ that once focused upon with the torch will explode all in range or more tactile words which will break down entire cliff sides in order to allow the beam of light from a nearby lighthouse to protect you as you progress.
As with the first DLC you will be spending a large chunk of time working your way through familiar environments, something which can seem cheap when expecting fresh locales to explore. Thankfully the lack of reality has you experiencing the environments in vastly different ways to before so this is rarely a concern. Outside of the fresh take on previous locations, The Writer houses very little ‘new’ with familiar progression of torches, the same old weaponry and no new gameplay mechanics to spice things up.
When the first downloadable episode came to its conclusion déjà vu set in once again as it was the second time that the storytelling fell short of providing any closure – but surely this time around, with The Writer being the final DLC, that’ll all be in the past right? Wrong. Whilst the story is explained a little further it only pushes the story marginally forward and spends too much time stating the obvious. It’s clear that Remedy want to leave the story open for a sequel, but in doing so they seem to have simply negated the point of stretching the story into these two additional chapters.
If you are a fan of Alan Wake then The Writer certainly won’t displease you as its more of the same, with some clever level design and set pieces that’ll keep you entertained for the short few hours that’s on offer here. For anyone looking for closure, you’ll just have to keep looking and waiting to see what Remedy has in store next.