Alan Wake was both creepy and suggestive and had a ton of potential. Potential that sadly it didn't live up to. It might have been entertaining and well-written, but it was also repetitive and the adventure was chopped up by pointless combat that didn't add anything to the experience.
But the concept was there. You never really knew what was real and what wasn't, and that's what Remedy have chosen to base The Signal on. This first expansion for Alan Wake is free to download for the people that bought a new copy of the game (you got a code at the same time), while if you bought it used you'll have to pony up 560 points for it. Which turns out to be a rather fitting price for it.
Let's take a moment to issue a spoiler warning straight away, since The Signal starts where Alan Wake ended. Our poor writer has managed to get a better grip on reality than before, but his mind is still in a state of disarray. And the fact is that The Signal takes place completely inside Alan's head, which means an even more twisted world than in the original.
The main problem with The Signal is that it lacks a proper story. Alan is stuck in his dreams and compared to the main storyline where you constantly chase after his missing wife, The Signal doesn't really contain anything that drives the plot forward. Exactly what the signal is I won't go closer into, but let's just say that the road there is more or less completely devoid of a story.
Alan's mind is a dangerous place and Bright Falls can transform right in front of your eyes. An open space can suddenly be covered with a forest, roads can split open and bridges can appear from out of nowhere. Letters float through the air and if you shine on them with your flashlight you might be rewarded by batteries or ammunition. It all makes for a pretty disturbing atmosphere.
The Signal is harder than the original, which combined with the lack of story places more focus on Alan Wake's gameplay. And the fact is that it helps The Signal. Without an exciting story to follow, the fights suddenly become more interesting. And since the difficulty is higher they often turn into an exciting escape, where you really have to struggle to survive.
I'm also thankful that there isn't as much to collect this time around. No thermoses in odd places or manuscripts hidden away. There are ten alarm clocks, symbolizing the need for Alan to wake up, but they feel pretty logical. And there's only ten, luckily.
Despite all this, it's sad that The Signal lacks a proper story. Hopefully the upcoming expansion The Writer will be different. But it's still fun to play, it looks great and is often really exciting. If this had been a chapter in the original game it would have been one of the better ones and it's absolutely worth picking up.
Loading next content