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Alan Wake: The Signal DLC Review

Alan Wake: The Signal DLC Review

Alan Wake, Remedy Entertainment's long-awaited horror title managed to impress with its intriguing story and unusual light-based combat. However, some repetitive enemy types and a few monotonous battles took some of the shine off an otherwise highly polished title. The Signal is the first piece of downloadable content to be released, so does it address these criticisms?

 The Signal

Following on from the very end of Alan Wake, The Signal finds Alan in a surreal version of Bright Falls. The story is surprisingly complicated, taking on a rather arty feeling with some pleasantly disturbing and weird imagery. As the episode continues Remedy Entertainment develops existing plot details, whilst keeping new elements to a minimum, which is probably a wise decision. This is the kind of downloadable content pack which allows the developers to experiment a little, rather than choose to play it safe and it is good to see. There are some impressive new graphical effects throughout the various levels which fit in nicely with the overall theme of the chapter.

 The Signal

However, despite the narrative being rather unusual, the gameplay itself will be very familiar. The Taken are back and must still be combated using a combination of light and firepower. Immediately noticeable is an increase in difficulty from Alan Wake and at times it felt like this episode was constantly running on the "Nightmare" difficulty. This does make The Signal challenging and there will probably be one or two sections which will cause a few problems. By forcing you to fight larger groups of The Taken, generally at close quarters, this leads to tense fights where you have to use your resources extremely carefully. There were one or two occasions with large clusters of randomly spawning enemies which did feel like a way of extending the lifespan of the episode, but these were the exception.

 The Signal

Disappointingly, but understandably in the context of the story, the first half of The Signal is spent revisiting locations from the main game. Despite some minor cosmetic changes, these are all very familiar and it is only in the second section that some different content emerges, which is easily more memorable. Yet, even these "new" sections are reconstituted areas with the same themes, so don't expect any real fresh locations to explore in. As in the main game there are plenty of collectables hidden throughout these areas, some of which are devilishly well hidden including a series of cardboard cut-outs and alarm clocks. Sadly, as in the main game these are only tied to achievements rather than unlocking any bonus content, which would have been a nice touch.

 The Signal

The whole experience will probably take you around 2 hours to complete from start to end, with some replay value in the form of various achievements. Considering how this pack came free with most copies of Alan Wake, it is definitely exploring this downloadable content for the extra insight into the game's story. Even if you've got a second-hand copy of the game, at 560MSP there's enough to keep you busy for some time, though don't expect this episode to address any of the faults found in the main title. The Signal is definitely short, but fans of Alan's battle against the dark presence will be kept busy until the next instalment is released.

 The Signal

7.50/10 7½

Alan Wake: The Signal (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Alan Wake, Remedy Entertainment's long-awaited horror title managed to impress with its intriguing story and unusual light-based combat. However, some repetitive enemy types and a few monotonous battles took some of the shine off an otherwise highly polished title. The Signal is the first piece of downloadable content to be released, so does it address these criticisms?

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield

Writer

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