It's not just humans who you'll face, either, with the darkness very willing to possess inanimate objects, such as JCBs, trucks and massive wire spindles. At certain points you’ll even face flocks of birds, which come at you in a terrifying swarm of chirping evil. You can vaporize these with some well targeted light from your torch, but at times it pays to use Alan's incredibly useful dodge move. If you're in a bit of a pickle -and you frequently will be - the assortment of extra weapons and light sources comes in handy. Flares can be held aloft or dropped to scare off enemies and give you a moment to breathe or, better still, fired directly into the air or into nasties; a well-placed flare shot into a huge possessed flying boat will quickly end its assault from above.
Generators in the environment can often be powered up (one of the very few uses of QTE-like gameplay you'll come across), turning on high powered lamps that can be used either as safe havens, at checkpoints and recharging health stations, or as a means to blast enemies. Certain beams of light are so intense that you don't need to use a weapon at all, with the light itself being enough to send the nasties back to the darkness from which they came. If you can't get to the light (something you'll regularly be running towards while trying not to scream), a flash bang grenade or two will clear the local area as the white light makes mince meat of any Taken or possessed objects.
The survival horror genre has changed somewhat in recent years, with Resident Evil becoming more of a third-person shooter and Dead Space relying more on shocks than real scares. Alan Wake is a return to the terrifying ways of the genre's past, with the setting, enemies and storyline working in tandem to create a truly unnerving experience. The world is linear, with the path to your objective usually quite obvious, but there are just enough 'off the beaten path' locations to make you believe Bright Falls is a real place. Enemy encounters aren't overused and the stock of bullets and batteries (for your torch) is just enough to make you hesitant to keep your light on full beam, while also not too fearful to use it.
Storylines in games quite often wash over me, merely serving to give reason for the action that's ensuing, but here it's completely engrossing. The plot develops at a perfect pace, with twists and turns that make sense and compel you to continue. At the end of each of the game's six chapters you're treated to an incredibly cool piece of licensed music, followed by brilliant story recaps. I assumed these would be somewhat cheesy, but they've been handled superbly and add so much to the game's cinematic quality.
Alan himself narrates as you play, which could conceivably annoy some players, but it undoubtedly keeps you engaged with the story and showcases the brilliant voice acting. Manuscript pages from Alan's latest book - one he doesn't remember writing - scattered throughout the levels detail events that have happened and, more interestingly, also those yet to occur. They serve as a clever collectable, with some only available to find when the game is played on the hardest difficulty setting. Hidden crates, coffee thermos flasks and tin can pyramids are also hidden in the environment for players who like to explore.