Alan Wake Remaster (Review)

Alan Wake is an action-adventure horror game that was released in May 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PC in February 2012. A remastered version was recently released for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

In the game, you take control of Alan Wake, a writer that has come to the sleepy town of Bright Falls to relax and get away from his career as a writer. His wife soon goes missing, and he finds himself being pursued by the darkness that has taken her and is now engulfing the town and turning the residents against him. He must use sources of light to fight back against these ‘Taken’ to get his wife back and to find out why his writing has now become real.

When Alan Wake was first released back in 2010, I was more of an Xbox kind of guy, so I was happy that I had the console to play it. When I first saw the game advertised, I knew it would be a game for me – dark and creepy. I bought it on release day and spent the next several days (and nights) visiting Bright Falls and fighting my way through the Taken.

I loved the game from the very start; the concept wasn’t anything new, but the way it played was so different. It wasn’t just a shoot your way through enemies experience; you had to use light to help you defeat them before you could shoot them.

At the time, the graphics were brilliant (although the original does look a bit dated now), and the story was excellent too. Little did I know that many years later, I would identify with the titular character so much. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I just couldn’t get into the DLC American Nightmare that was released later.

I longed for either a sequel or a remaster for so long that I never thought that it would happen, and it was only by chance that I happened to see something about a new remaster that was coming, and for the first time, it would be released on PlayStation consoles. The best thing was it wasn’t much of a wait. I pre-ordered it straight away so I could get my copy on release day, and as soon as it came, I could get stuck in.

The remaster isn’t a great departure from the original game. The graphics have been tweaked slightly, but it still looks like an Xbox 360 game in spirit. The cut scenes do look much better, however, and you can see that it is different from the original release. The excellent soundtrack is still there, and you’re treated to some brilliant Poet’s of the Fall tracks, among others, while you play. Several easter eggs can found that relate back to the game Control that obviously wasn’t around at the time of the release of the original. These take the form of QR codes that, when you scan them take you to various websites related to the games, as well as letters that discuss events in the game relating to the AWE expansion for Control.

Alan Wake remains one of my favourite games, and the remaster has just added that extra playability and more widespread availability now it’s on more than the Xbox consoles.

I’m already a fair way through my current playthrough,  but I have a feeling that it will be a game that I will go back to now and then after I’ve finished it, just like I did with the first release.

The original game was definitely a solid 8/10, but the remaster has reminded me why I enjoyed the game so much and has knocked it up a notch to 9/10. Alan Wake does have a couple of issues. There are still a number of glitches that, although they don’t break the game, can be very irritating. I’ve already been trapped on a bit of scenery that’s ultimately led to my death several times.

Whether you played the original or not, I thoroughly recommend that you pick up the remaster of Alan Wake. You won’t regret it!

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Review)

**Possible spoilers ahead**

Final Fantasy VII is an RPG that was originally released in 1997 for the PlayStation. It’s the seventh full instalment of the Final Fantasy series that dates back to 1987 when Final Fantasy was released on the NES.

This instalment follows main character Cloud Strife, a mercenary employed by an eco-terrorist group named Avalanche to stop a world-controlling corporation from using the planet’s life essence as a power source for the city Midgar as well as other towns and locations throughout the game.

When this game was first released back in 1997, I remember my brother buying it and us spending hours playing it. This was possibly the biggest game I’d ever played up until that point, and I was drawn into the story from the very beginning.

In a previous blog, I stated that along with other games such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Skyrim, Final Fantasy VII is one of my most played and favourite games.

At the time of its release, FFVII was one of the most beautiful games I’d seen, and the cutscenes blew me away. I know, if you look at them now, they seem a little dated, but they still look pretty great.

Anyway, FFVII was recently remade into an even more epic and beautiful game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (what an original title for a remake, eh?) was released back in 2020 and was a game that I couldn’t wait to play. However, I only recently bought a copy of it and got to play it for one reason or another.

During its pre and post-release, I did my best to avoid anything about it (other than the demo). I’d heard things like “it wasn’t the full game” or “the story had changed”, and I didn’t want anything to ruin my own experience of a game that I love being remade.

So a few weeks ago, I finally got a copy and started to play it. I’d previously played the demo, so I knew how the combat worked and what the first 30-40 minutes of gameplay would be like.

During this demo, I couldn’t help but compare it to the beginning of the original, and I was impressed with just how well it had been done. Yes, it changed certain aspects – like the combat mechanics going from random turn-based encounters to real-time – but I found these just brought the game into this new age. It did away with some of the original’s clunkiness and made it feel more streamlined and clean, and I was there for that.

The further you get into the game, you start to see other changes to the story; for example, side characters such as Biggs, Wedge and Jessie all get a more significant role, and you get to see more of the story in relation to these characters. I found this a great addition as it just added that little bit extra to the story.

The other thing that the remake has that the original didn’t is quests.

At certain parts of the game, you have a little bit more of a free-roam ability (in the original, when you were in Midgar, it was pretty linear.). This too, added that little bit more to the story, allowing you to find out more about certain characters and really feeling the plight of the citizens of Midgar’s slums.

If you were used to the original turn-based random encounters, the new combat system takes a little bit of getting used to. It all happens in real-time (aside from the pauses when you’re selecting an ability or spell), and this seems to make the battles feel a little faster and less clunky – there’s that word again… For me, the removal of the random encounters was a good thing. Back in the day, I would get really annoyed when – having just come out of a battle – you get thrust into a fight without time to heal up or sort your gear out. Over time, this system just wound me up and marred what otherwise would have been a perfect playing experience.

As far as main characters go, you’ve got the standard Cloud, Barret, Aerith and Tifa, but the thing that confuses me is when you get to the part of the game where you meet Red XIII, you can’t control him. Of course, he’s with you in battle, but as an uncontrollable AI character. I’m not sure why they made him this way, I for one, I was looking forward to controlling him as he was one of my favourite characters from the original. I just hope that when it comes to the other characters you meet along the way – Yuffie, Vincent, Cait Sith and Cid – that you get to add them to your team and play as them. I’ll be disappointed if not.

The magic system is very much the same. You pick up and equip materia to your weapons and accessories so you can use them in battle. One of the differences with the summons is that you only have the chance to use them in bigger battles and only when a bar that appears on screen has been filled. The big difference comes with the summons. In the original, the summons were a spell that was cast and did a single move doing a lot of damage. In the remake, though, the summoned entity joins you in the fight, and as well as doing automatic smaller attacks, you have the chance to perform extra attacks using the action via the ATB menu. Once the bar on screen has ticked down, the summon will leave the battle, but not before doing their main move for ample damage. I feel like this system does work, although, like other changes to the original, it takes a bit of getting used to.

I said at the start that it’s not the whole game, and that’s true. You play the game, up until the point where – on the original – you’d be asked to change discs, which kind of makes sense. Even though it’s not the full game, you still have hours and hours of gameplay, plus the ability to replay chapters should you want to.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Remake. It does build on what was already an incredible game and provides you with more background to the characters and the ability to walk around and explore different areas. I’m interested to see what happens with part 2, whether they allow you to explore the map as in the original or whether it will be a bit more closed off. Either way, I look forward to how it’s done, especially when it introduces some of the higher level summons.

I have no option but to give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. It’s just brilliant, and despite only being a part of the game, it’s well worth it, and I honestly can’t wait for the next instalment. I highly recommend this game, whether you’re a fan of the original or not.