Anybody who has read my previous articles on Alan Wake knows that I absolutely love it. I think it’s one of the best games of the year (and would be my GOTY nomination if it weren’t for Mass Effect 2). And, despite its blatant cliffhanger of an ending, I still loved the heck out of it and was glad to be able to play through The Signal for free, which I thought was even better than the main game. The Signal ended on a cliffhanger too. So does The Writer, the last piece of downloadable content for Alan Wake finally address the questions the plot asked?
Not really, no. In fact, this was definitely my least favorite downloadable content bit for Alan Wake (and ironically the one I paid money for). That doesn’t mean to say it’s not good, because it’s great. There is nothing Alan Wake did right that this piece of DLC doesn’t. But there a few reasons that it disappoints me, and because there’s nothing particularly special about it except for some great scripted events (par for the course, since it’s Alan Wake), I will be focusing on the negatives more, despite it still being a great piece of gaming.
The first problem I have here is probably the worst – The Writer is really, really short. Now I hate DLC that charges you money for very little content, but considering that this one was practically mandatory to finish the story, the fact that we’re paying $7 for content that lasts little more than an hour and a half isn’t nice. Compared to Bioshock 2’s Minerva’s Den, which was a great 4-5 hour chunk of content for $10, this piece of DLC falls far behind in the value category. Now to be fair, The Signal was really not much longer. But though I feel this is shorter than The Signal, this one also has less an emphasis on combat and more an emphasis on scripted events and even occasional platforming and puzzles. So even if you crank up the difficulty, I guarantee there are only a couple of sections that you’ll even notice. So even though it’s really entertaining, it’s not very replayable at all, and only really warrants another playthrough for completion’s sake if you’re replaying through the main game again or to collect the Night Springs video game collectibles (or if you wanna go through Nightmare difficulty to read the manuscript pages).
But here’s the problem that disappointed me the most – there really isn’t much of a point to this content except to leave Alan Wake on a more conclusive cliffhanger. What do I mean by that? I mean that Alan Wake now ends with a more typical horror movie cliffhanger rather than him just screaming on the ground. Answers are few and far between, and honestly the plot of this DLC is basically scarce. The entire hour and a half is used to trek through all sorts of crazy happenings, and very few of them contribute to the main plot, which was a huge draw of Alan Wake and The Signal. If you’re planning to buy this DLC to get answers on how Alan Wake ends, be warned – you will get very few.
This isn’t a huge deal. While The Writer frustratingly avoids important questions, it does end Alan Wake more conclusively, and blatantly sets up for a sequel too. I just wish there had been more here. It’s still just as good as the main game, but I feel like the amount of content here is kind of small to justify $7 when this honestly should have been part of the main game. I still like it a lot, but just be aware of what you’re buying. This isn’t a definitive ending to Alan Wake at all, but just another gameplay chunk for fans of the main game to savor. Nothing more.