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Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller by Remedy Entertainment. The game is set in an idyllic American small town (Bright Falls) and its surroundings in the state of Washington. Alan Wake, the game's protagonist, is a best-selling horror writer, who writes a novel about his darkest nightmares. In the game, those nightmares come true. As with Remedy's previous games, story and atmosphere are fundamental elements.
Alan Wake, of whom is a best-selling writer, has not managed to write anything in over two years. His wife, Alice, brings him to the idyllic small town of Bright Falls to recover his creative flow. But when she vanishes without a trace, Wake finds himself trapped in a nightmare. Word by word, his latest work, that is a thriller of which he cannot remember writing, is now coming true before his eyes. Yet he somehow knows that it's his story without any memory of writing it.
The story will play out in an episodic format, with a television show-style presentation. Remedy has confirmed that Alan Wake is only the first season of a bigger story, opening the door for future sequels.
Light plays a significant role in gameplay and strategy. The enemies, called dark forces in-game, are sensitive to light, encouraging the player to take advantage of environment light sources and placing significant emphasis on the flash-light as a primary weapon. Players also have the ability to set traps which illuminate when triggered, either damaging or temporarily immobilizing an enemy.
Remedy also promised a free-roam, sandbox-style city, similar to those seen in the Grand Theft Auto series. Due to a mistranslation from the magazine Pelaaja, it was thought that Remedy had removed the free-roam however, Thomas Puha, Creative Director for Pelaaja, announced that there was a mistake in the translation and that the open-world side of Alan Wake would still be included. Puha said, "There is still an open world, but due to the story the action is more directed to tell the story better as you’d expect from Remedy".