Okay, so by the time I am publishing this I’m about 4 hrs into an “Alan Wake” Let’s Play. This is a a little collection of thoughts that came to my mind while I was watching one video after another.
First things first: I think the faces look horrible and I have a hard time sympathizing with the depicted characters for that reason. Secondly I don’t get why exactly the collectibles are Coffee Thermoses but I think it’s pretty damn awesome. Also I would like to thank the LPer for the whole lot of comments he edited into the video (subtitles) since I wouldn’t catch any of the references without this imaginary cheat sheet.
But there is an awful lot of things that disturb me about Alan Wake. The compass shows nothing and still takes away precious real screen estate (Though I admit not knowing if this is only so in nightmare mode since the LP only demonstrated this difficulty setting). A smaller indicator showing the next direction would’ve sufficed instead of making a giant radial dial of nothingness. Which is interestingly only partially covered by the health ring. Besides every time a Coffee Thermos is picked up it makes me want to check if the health meter has grown. (hint: it does not) Moreover I am continually confused by the way it displays the amount of ammunition you have at disposal; since the counter is not the amount of ammo left in your pocket/backpack/whatever but the overall amount. Nowadays I tend to think that the ammo in the little displayed chambers of a gun is already subtracted from that count. This is not the case in Alan Wake.
Also I think the game might be more immersive if it was to fade out the HUD when it’s not needed. It is so linear that during the time I’ve watched there never was any need for your next main goal to be displayed on screen all the time (or any secondary objective since there are none next to collectibles). While I’m talking usability here I want to point out that the optional TV show-collectibles (called Night Springs) ought to have an “watch” Button that zooms the camera in to view the show better. The way they are now it’s not really fun to watch them. Also the Manuscript pages are somewhat cruel to the eyes. The whole game has that dark appeal and almost never shows it light sides, though every time you find a manuscript page you are offered to read it immediately. While I honestly love the fact here that they are read out loud to you, they are very, very bright and burned my eyes each time the LPer watched one of them during dark sequences (read: all the time).
And I still think it might be a good idea to have health added when you find coffee. I mean, c’mon he’s a writer. Basically he falls into the same cliche as computer science people, otaku, and uhm well, basically everyone who manages to have a lot of work done alone at the computer alas typewriter before the computer. He practically lives on coffee. Our entire industry does. So gimme my healthy coffee, Remedy!