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22nd February 2015
The Third Anniversary of Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Five Things I Love About the Game

Today marks the third anniversary of Alan Wake's American Nightmare. To celebrate I wrote about the top five things that I adored about the game, in no particular order. Please note that as this article looks at the game as a whole, there are massive spoilers below. Now, lets get to it!

1. Balance Slays the Demon

Having discovered Poets of the Fall through Alan Wake, I was really happy to see the developers and band collaborate again on a new custom song from the game. In the original title, we fought an onslaught of Taken to Children of the Elder God, and discovered the truth about our lost memory accompanied by The Poet and the Muse. In American Nightmare, players fought hard to defend Redtooth Observatory from even more dangerous enemies, with the sweet sounds of Balance Slays the Demon.

For me, Balance Slays the Demon is the ultimate Old Gods of Asgard piece. The track has lyrics packed full of references to the original Alan Wake title and, like the previous two OGoA songs, it featured a fantastic guitar solo.

Fans of Old Gods of Asgard were further treated to a second song by the group cheerfully titled, The Happy Song. The music was created with the game in mind and later released on the group's latest album, Temple of Thought.

2. The Manuscript Pages

For me, one of the highlights of American Nightmare were the manuscript pages. In Alan Wake, these pages were used as foreshadowing as well as expanding on the character's backstory. In American Nightmare, the pages also act as a glimpse into the world that Wake has left behind.

"Alice. My wife. The best thing that ever happened to me. She smiles, and the darkness lifts. For her, I have tried things I otherwise never would. I've never really minded if it's made me feel like a fool."

After his time in the Dark Place the character is very different to the one we meet heading into Bright Falls, yet it's certainly Wake. The character development is explored more in the pages, and for those who didn't make collecting the pages a priority during their playthrough, I highly recommend revisiting the title.

3. The Live Action Cutscenes

Something which Alan Wake's American Nightmare brought to the series were the live action cutscenes. While the original title incorporated live action clips into the game with Night Springs and The Harry Garrett Show: for the arcade title, live action videos were used as cinematics and were a vital part of telling the story. The videos were not only beautiful but it was also fantastic to see Ilkka Villi's performance of both Alan Wake and Mr Scratch, side by side, in live action. The creepiness and charm of the antagonist comes through really well on film!

4. The Soundtrack

Creating the score for Alan Wake's American Nightmare was the talented Petri Alanko, who also composed the music for the original game. For the arcade game, the tracks kept the vital ingredients which made the Alan Wake tracks feel like Alan Wake, while also introducing a new element. In this game, the music created an unsettling atmosphere, perfectly reinforcing the storyline in which Wake must be constantly on guard.

5. The Happy Ending

The end of game saw Alan being reunited with Alice after years of suffering in the Dark Place. They kiss and the screen falls black. Stars appear in view and once more we hear the Night Springs announcer.

"Are these actual events, or merely a dream? A memory, or a glimpse of what is to come? One thing is certain: this scene takes place in another time and another place… far, far away… from Night Springs."

For fans this is a bittersweet ending, especially in retrospect. With Remedy currently working on Quantum Break as their next AAA game, Wake's next adventure is on hold. This way seemed like a way of giving the protagonist a glimmer of peace until the sequel.

...Did you watch the very end?


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