Ten years after the game's original launch on the Xbox 360, Alan Wake is finally back. It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but it was quite good, and more than that, it was something unique. A horror and suspense adventure heavily inspired by the works of Stephen King, with a superb atmosphere and a brilliant narration by actor Matthew Porretta (who plays Dr. Darling in Control).
This brings us to AWE, Control's second expansion, which has the main purpose to link Control's and Alan Wake's worlds into one big Remedy universe. In that respect, AWE fulfills its goal, answering several unanswered questions you might have from Alan Wake while enriching the two games universes, but as a pure Control expansion, it was somewhat disappointing.
While much as been said about Alan Wake, it's quite possible that many Control players have never played it, especially those more connected to PlayStation consoles. For those, AWE must be a confusing and less exciting experience, but having said that, it is important to clarify that Alan Wake himself is much more of a plot device in the background than a real presence. The character appears in some cutscenes and videos, but never really interacts with Jesse in a meaningful way. If you were expecting Alan Wake to be an integral part of AWE, you will be disappointed.
The new main villain, however, is directly linked to Alan Wake's universe, and there are several documents that refer to events and characters from that game - too frequently, actually. The base game already had so many documents for the player to read, and AWE goes even further, especially during the first half-hour of the expansion, pouring countless texts across the rooms. They are not mandatory, of course, but not reading these documents implies leaving out important context on the story and the characters, so it is not recommended to ignore them. We believe the game's pace would have benefited if there were fewer documents with better distribution across the map.
AWE does not offer new powers to the player but introduces a game mechanic based on light and dark, similar to the ones in Alan Wake. At times you'll need to solve light puzzles to unlock a path through the darkness, while other sections involve taking a flashlight with Jesse's telekinesis power and carrying it. It's a good tribute to Alan Wake, but not much more than that, especially because this light and dark mechanic worked better in that game.
The expansion, which lasts close to two hours, is also missing memorable moments. There are some interesting sequences, especially involving boss fights but there's nothing on a level even close to the maze sequence in the base game. You can also complete some side missions, including one that shows great promise with an astronaut, but unfortunately, it doesn't really go anywhere interesting.
AWE does not outright confirm there will be an Alan Wake 2, but it strongly suggests it, and that is the best thing about the expansion. It's a good indication of what the future holds for Control, Alan Wake, and Remedy's shared universe, but as a pure expansion of Control, it falls short of expectations. If you're a fan of Alan Wake and Control, it's worth picking up, but if you never played Alan Wake, you're better off sitting this one out.
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