It may only last about five hours’ worth of play time but this intense XBOX Live Arcade (XBLA) game, released for this weekend as downloadable content (DLC), already has many gamers on the edge of their seats.
The original Alan Wake was released back in 2010, and American Nightmare marks the return of insane battles between darkness and light. For those who are unfamiliar with the franchise, the story revolves around Alan Wake, a horror writer, who takes a break from his career to spend quality time with his wife. The couple escapes to a secluded town called Bright Falls where strange things start happening. Pages from Wake’s current project are disappearing and the horrific events he has written for his story are starting to become his reality.
American Nightmare is a side story from the main game; an effort by Alan to write himself a happy ending for a change.
Wake fans will feel right at home with this downloadable title. The atmosphere is just as creepy as the original game, with eerie music and dark figures jumping out from the shadows. Gameplay is pretty much the same. Armed with a flashlight and a gun, players ‘burn’ the darkness from their enemies, weakening them before shooting them down with bullets. It is disappointing that there really isn’t much variety in the combat, though it does seem much more fast-paced this time around.
There are several commendable points about American Nightmare. Set as a stand-alone adventure, it plays a lot like an episode from a horror TV show. We have an omniscient narrator — not unlike the one in the old Twilight Zone series — whose unique narrative contributes a lot to making the atmosphere of the game even scarier. It is also cool to hear music from popular artists featured in games. Nightmare goes for the rock and metal feel, featuring music from Kasabian and Poets of the Fall. The rock music really fits well into some scenes, and makes the overall gameplay even more enjoyable.
All in all, American Nightmare is a solid bridge between Alan Wake and its upcoming sequel. Newcomers to the franchise would probably end up getting really lost in the story if they start with this title but the game’s action-oriented horror genre makes it hard for players not to get addicted.
American Nightmare was released on 23rd February and is only available for download on XBLA.
Reviewed by munnyndonuts