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Alan Wake's American Nightmare: 'Our inspiration is Quentin Tarantino... this is more action-oriented'

Oskari 'Ozz' Hakkinen gives us the low-down...

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Considering how linear the original game was, American Nightmare's story-led element has more of an open-world feel...

We started off Alan Wake trying to create an open-world thriller game, and that didn't really work out - we went more towards a linear format. But for American Nightmare, we've implemented a hub level design. We've got all new locations in there. There's a lot of new stuff - the enemies are new, the weapons are new, Wake's outfit is new. The location is Arizona now, not the Pacific Northwest. And the level design is new - it's a hub-level approach, so you revisit key locations, but when you go back to them, you experience them in a very different flow.

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How will American Nightmare hook gamers who didn't play the original game?

Anyone can pick it up and give it a go, even if they've never played Alan Wake before. But of course for the fans out there, they want the fiction and the overall universe to go forward. So we put a ton of optional story content in which connects the dots back to the first game.

People who have never played Alan Wake can go and talk to the NPCs, and they'll get the basis of the story - Alan Wake is fighting Mr Scratch and needs to save his wife. But for those who have played the first game, you can have more and more dialogue with the NPCs - we've put a ton of optional story content in there. Plus you get more from the radio and TV shows in the game, and of course from the manuscript pages as well.

American Nightmare's subtly different feel to the original game arose from a different set of influences...

Our inspiration for Alan Wake was Stephen King, Lost, tipping our hats to Alfred Hitchcock and Twin Peaks. With American Nightmare, it's a lot more Quentin Tarantino/From Dusk Till Dawn. And with that, we've got new enemies and new weapons.

So you'll see a nail-gun and a crossbow. If the slogan for Alan Wake would be "the pen is mightier than the sword," the slogan for American Nightmare would be "The nail-gun is mightier than the sword". You right away get the feeling that it's a lot more action-oriented.

But the basic mechanic which defined Alan Wake's gameplay, hasn't been jettisoned...

Before you can do any damage to the Taken, you first need to use your flashlight, and then you can use a conventional weapon. But we've put a lot of variation in there. So, for instance, with the crossbow, you don't need to use your flashlight: it can pierce the darkness without that. It sounds like a super-weapon, but it's not - it takes a while to load.

And The Taken, too, have evolved...

There's an enemy called the Splitter, for instance. Now, when you use your flashlight on the Splitter, he will split into two enemies. And when you use your flashlight again, he will again split, into four. He does gradually get smaller and weaker, but there is strength in numbers, so you have to choose your strategy depending on the type of weapon you have.

If you have a fast-firing weapon, you may want to split him, and use, say, an Uzi to wipe him out. But if you have a slow weapon like the crossbow, you definitely don't want to be using your flashlight. And that brings in really exciting gameplay, because you're really on your toes, especially if you're in arcade mode, but also in story mode. You'll turn, but your automatic reaction is to use your flashlight. If it's the Splitter in front of you and he splits, and you really didn't mean to do that, it gets your heart racing.

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Beyond the five-hour Story campaign, there's an Arcade mode...

Yes, it's our version of a Horde mode. It's called Fight Till Dawn, so you've got ten minutes to survive, until the sun rises --- of course, when the sun rises, the Taken are all wiped out. We've got online leaderboards and scoreboards. And the basic idea of it is that you need to survive until dawn. It's single-player only.

The Arcade mode has five unique maps. When you've mastered those, you unlock Nightmare mode, which is very, very intense, as if the first modes weren't intense enough.

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