When Alan Wake was released in May of 2010 for the Xbox 360 it was hailed as a ground-breaking, immersive, intelligent, and captivating title from Remedy Entertainment, the creators of the Max Payne franchise. Unfortunately due to timing and perhaps the fact that it was a more methodical game, its sales did not match its critical acclaim. Over the next two years it slowly gained ground in sales and fanbase and eventually found release (and sales success) on the PC as well as with a standalone continuation called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. This new game in the series tells a smaller more contained tale with a price point to match and is a departure from the original Alan Wake in mostly all the right ways if taken in the context of the game's setting.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare takes place two years after the events of the original game and is framed in a narrative from the Night Springs TV Show that Alan Wake started his career writing for. Night Springs is very much an homage to The Twilight Zone, complete with ironic voiceovers and campy acting and Wake is essentially travelling through an episode chasing his alter ego Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch is Wake’s antithesis, he is all the dark feelings and anger personified and he is wreaking havoc in a community and attempting to take from Wake everything he loves.
The story in American Nightmares is not quite as compelling as the one in the original game, but it is quite engaging and the delivery is more detailed than in the past title. Not only have manuscript pages returned to be collected and read, but you frequently get video messages from Mr. Scratch showcasing his depravity and adding weight to your desire to stop him. As you travel through the game you meet other scattered people and most of them have encountered Mr. Scratch, initially believing you are him which adds a need to mollify their fears before they will help you. The interactions throughout the story are effective, if a little less involved then the original game due to the lack of the personal connections you had with Barry and Alice.