It's been a year since Alan Wake was first announced for Xbox 360, and since then we've heard nothing. Instead, the mystery has deepened. Remedy had insisted that the game wasn't going to appear at E3, but since Microsoft has picked the game as an Xbox 360 exclusive, a single trailer was shown at this year's show.
Alan Wake is a 'psychological action thriller' along the lines of Silent Hill or Resident Evil, with you taking control of the eponymous author. Alan is a horror writer, inspired by his fiancée, whose presence stirs dark recurring dreams of intense horror within him. Not exactly the healthy kind of relationship his mum wanted, to be fair, but y'know, whatever works. At least he makes a packet out of his best-selling novels.
Suddenly, his beloved disappears. Unfortunately, with her goes his writing ability. Oh, and his ability to sleep, which is slightly more worrying. Insomnia-addled, Alan checks into a sleep-health clinic outside the small town of Pride Falls in the rural Washington State on the west coast of America. Here his insomnia is cured and finally he can sleep soundly again. Problem solved, game over, right?
Well... no. Alan also meets the doppelgänger of his missing beloved in Pride Falls and starts sleeping with her. And this time his dark twisted dreams start seeping out into the real world... distorted creatures, cowled humans that can only be seen in the half-light of the dusk or dawn, glimpsed only out of the corner of the eye and that only Alan can see. Is he going mad or is this really happening?
So far, only one in-game scene has been shown, with Alan trying to reach a lighthouse before the sun goes down. He fails, and is shown surrounded by dark figures closing in on his shaking, foetal form. It's dark, it's threatening and has the potential - with Max Payne developer Remedy behind it - to be original and action-packed. Combined with the Stephen King-style plot and the Lovecraftian nastiness behind small-town America, Alan Wake will make you afraid of the dark again.