Since January, I have play-tested and reviewed eight different video games, and one video game trend has dominated in these new release titles: abstract, nightmarish settings. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was the first game I encountered this year with a nightmare theme, in which players explore the vague and hazy memories of the main character while he encounters “ghosts” of his past on the search for his missing daughter.
Next on the list was Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon. While not terribly similar to Shattered Memories, this was another title with hazy, vague settings and spectral enemies lurking in the dark. The storyline once again took players into an abandoned world-or seemingly abandoned world-with a main character who is struggling to figure out how it all went wrong. Unlike Shattered Memories, Farewell Dreams was laughably bad; the other video game at least held my attention and properly capitalized on the Wii-mote’s interactive capabilities.
The most recent addition to this supposedly unrelated sequence of video game reviews is hit new release Alan Wake. Once again, the player takes a trek into the mysterious world of the main character’s nightmares, complete with shadowy enemies and flashes of memories. Once again, the main character-writer Alan Wake-is searching for someone; namely, his wife Alice, who has gone missing. The video game plays like an interactive movie, another trend with increasing popularity; certainly a different pace from the 2-D scrolling NES games so many of us cut our teeth on. The storyline follows Alan through a dark and twisty version of the Pacific Northwest, where he is fueled by a belief that he is living out the details of a manuscript he already wrote but yet doesn’t remember writing.
This most recent video game is most similar to Shattered Memories; the figure running around in the third-person view even resembles character Harry Mason from the Wii game, desperately searching for his missing daughter, Cheryl. Only this time, the main character-Alan Wake-is equipped with a flashlight and weapons, which he uses to defeat the shadowy, lurking figures attacking him from all sides. I half expected Alan to run into Harry, since the two men share such vividly similar nightmares. However, I preferred the “psychological profiling” Shattered Memories employed, even though I found Alan Wake to be just as interesting and suspenseful.
If you enjoy psychological thrillers, definitely give this one a try. Alan Wake, as I mentioned, is really just an interactive mystery movie or novel more so than a video game, and fans of the genre such as me are highly likely to enjoy the ride. Personally, I cannot wait to see which video game in this trend of nightmare, hazy psychological thrillers will be released next, because I will certainly be in line to rent and review it.