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Godfather III. Episode I. Caddyshack 2. Blues Brothers 2000. You can see where I’m going with this.
It might be going a little overboard but Alan Wake’s first DLC, “The Signal,” is one of those sequels that should never have been made, although not for the reasons any of those others shouldn't have. This is one of those situations where we didn’t need to know anymore of what happened to Alan after the game’s events and would have been just fine discussing our own interpretations of the ending for years to come.
Instead we get this. In brief, and this is a spoiler for those of you who have not finished the game, The Signal has Alan sinking in the lake closer to the darkness, and we see this in the form of recycled locations from the first game, although they are in a different arrangement. Former Bright Falls visitor and author Thomas Zane tells Alan he has to stop sinking so he can help him get out. He contacts him in various ways, including his blatantly Verizon branded cell phone and having him follow the GPS signal from his blatantly branded Verizon Navigator software. Your friend Barry, or at least an imaginary version of him, helps you along the way too.
As for the gameplay, well, that’s where it gets really bad. Everything awful about Alan Wake’s gameplay shines here, and in some ways it’s worse. The first game ignored any difficulty setting you chose and was hard no matter what, a pain for those of us who enjoy taking in the story the first time around and worrying about challenges later. It did this by clumping together just enough enemies to be too many, and in later chapters, not providing you enough ammo to dispense of them. One of those many developer "tricks" used to increase the length of gameplay.
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Unfortunately it’s even worse, with greater groups of enemies and a more difficult way of obtaining supplies. Remember at the end of the original game how you’d have to shine a flashlight on a word to see that object? Well, that’s how you get your tools now. Instead of supplies lying around conveniently, you now have to shine your flashlight on the word until it falls to the ground.
There is one fairly clever use of this where you walk through a field of words that say things like “enemy” or “taken” so you sort of have to maneuver around without keeping your flashlight on them too much.
The thing that Alan Wake had going for it was the story. If you were into the cheap difficulty with not enough supplies provided thing, then here is plenty more for you. If you enjoyed the story, this is not for you. After finishing the main game I had wished I just bought the book instead, and with The Signal, that thought is even stronger.
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