Game: Alan Wake
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
Genre: action-adventure, action horror, “psychological thriller”
Style: light Lovecraft influences
Verdict: Recommended
Buy: Amazon
Note: Due to licensing issues, Alan Wake was removed from stores in 2017 and has yet to return.

When I first saw Alan Wake listed as a game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, I was surprised. I tend to think of it as supernatural horror instead. However, the more I thought about it, the more it fit. Yes, you’ll spend a lot of time running from and shooting possessed humans, but there are some Lovecraftian elements at work as well.

Alan Wake follows an author named Alan who goes to the town of Bright Falls for a vacation. After they arrive, his wife disappears, shadowy figures called “the Taken” begin attacking, and Alan finds pages from a manuscript he doesn’t remember writing… which accurately predict future events.

Light and darkness play important roles in both the story and the gameplay, where you’ll need to use your flashlight to burn away the shadows that protect the Taken so you can shoot them. There are moments where you’ll feel vulnerable, but Alan Wake is very much an action-adventure game, not survival horror.

The shadows possessing the Taken come from a malevolent entity referred to as the Dark Presence. The Dark Presence has the power to alter reality and does so through the work of artists, such as Alan’s manuscript.

Alan Wake’s most obvious influences are Twin Peaks and the work of Stephen King, but the atmosphere, themes of insanity, and mysteries surrounding the Dark Presence definitely give it a Lovecraftian tone at times.

It won’t be your top choice if you’re looking for heavy Lovecraft themes, but Alan Wake is a solid game with some cool ideas.

Buy: Amazon