Alan Wake is a psychological horror action video game that features a washed-up writer, Alan Wake, going on vacation to a remote cabin with his wife, Alice, to try and find inspiration for his next book. After his wife is taken by dark forces, it's up to Alan to not only rescue her, but discover a deep-rooted mystery with Wake's writing at the center of it all.
Alan Wake is set-up like a TV series, and the game is split into 6 "episodes" that each with a particular cliff-hanger. There are also two bonus episodes, The Signal and The Writer. A live-action web series, known as Bright Falls, serves as a prequel to the game. The game was praised for its visuals, sound designs, narrative, and atmosphere.
Alan Wake follows in the footsteps of contemporaries like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space, placing action at its core whilst still delivering a psychologically scary experience. The game's primary enemies are known as "Taken", murderous shadows that take control of real humans. The main gameplay loot consists of "burning" off the shadows using Alan Wake's flashlight, before finishing them off with gunfire. The Taken are invincible until they lose their shadowy protection. Throughout the game, Wake will become armed with different guns, including flare guns and shotguns, as well as upgraded flashlights.
In addition to combat scenarios, there are also daytime sections which mainly consist of story advancement, giving the player a breather and deeper sense of the mystery. Wake can also collect manuscript pages, which can sometimes predict future events.
Alan Wake is a best-selling horror novelist that has been suffering from a condition known as writer's block. On the advice of his wife Alice, Wake decides to take a vacation to Bright Falls, Washington to get secretly get him to "recharge his battieres". Upon arriving at their cabin, Alan realizes what's really happening, and storms off angrily, but when Alice is taken by dark forces, Alan mysteriously wakes up a week later with no memory of what happened.
Shadowy figures attempt to kill Wake, and when Wake is told that no cabin on the lake ever existed, Alan questions his sanity and calls his agent Barry Wheeler for help. Alan receives a call from Alice's purported kidnapper, but it's revealed to be a lie and Alan is sent to Dr. Hartman's office, where Dr. Hartman says Alan is suffering from a psychotic break. Returning to town, they find the FBI has arrived, and attempt to arrest him, before the shadowy forces intervene, allowing Alan and Barry to escape.
Alan and Barry start to learn about the past of Cauldron Lake from other townsfolk. They believe an entity called the Dark Presence is trapped within the lake and is trying to escape by using its powers to turn fiction into reality. It has previously tried this with a writer known as Thomas Zane—the figure in the diving suit—but Zane was able to resist its will and died during the eruption that sank the island. The Dark Presence has grown strong enough to start to influence the townspeople and create the forces that have chased Alan. That night, as Alan and Barry take shelter, they get drunk on moonshine, and Alan starts to recall memories of being forced to write Departure during the prior week and realizes that the Dark Presence is now trying to use his writings to escape.
Sarah and the FBI arrive to arrest the two, but the shadowy figures drag the FBI agent away. Alan returns to Cauldron Lake alone to face the Dark Presence, using his newfound ability to affect reality with his thoughts aided by the Clicker. The Dark Presence is dispelled but there is no sign of Alice, and Alan believes that to maintain balance, he must give himself to the lake. As Alan sinks below the waters, Alice climbs safely out of the lake. Within the depths of the lake, Alan finds himself in the cabin and realizes that Departure is not yet finished, and turns back to the typewriter to continue the story and write his own means to be free of the lake.