Tuesday, 16 September 2014

RETRO REVIEW: Spider: The Video Game

Spider: The Video Game is certainly a hidden gem within the PS1 library, which is a shame as more people should experience this impressive, if forgotten, platformer.


Remember when spider's had guns attached to their legs? No? The storyline explains all, which won't win any awards by any stretch of the imagination - it's the core gameplay which makes Spider: The Video Game truly shine.

When a scientist decides to create a 'cyber spider', two suspicious individuals soon become aware of this and decide they want the technology themselves, and so whilst on a raid on the lab, various pieces of equipment gets destroyed in the process, leaving the scientist to fall on a machine, which ultimately turns him into a spider. That makes it your mission to play as the spider as he pursues the couple in search of revenge. Yep...

Each level is designed around the 2.5D perspective, much like Pandemonium or Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, and it works perfect for a game such as this considering the maneuverability of a spider - this little guy can climb, crawl, and hang from various obstacles. With a total of 60 playable levels, there's a lot of ground to cover and many enemies along the way. retroreview

These include the likes of other spiders, gigantic rats, bats that drop the occasional bomb here and there, slugs, and many more bugs you wouldn't like to see in your bed. It's often the case you won't see the enemy coming as they're so quick and the camera angle can be a little awkward at times - good old fashioned memory and trial and error are needed for moments like these.

There are a fair amount of weapons to find, including the flamethrower, missiles, boomerang, among other effective weaponry, each with its own unique advantage - the flamethrower can quickly kill anything at close range, whilst the boomerang can dispose of enemies from a distance without having to consume ammunition.

The most useful is the smart-bomb, which is a rare find and rightly so considering it wipes out every enemy on the screen in one go. Spider: The Video Game can be hugely difficult and often cheap, but its addictive and fun nature will more than likely make you want to carry on, which is worth it as the game is worth playing right until the end. You'll go through the lab itself, the sewers, a city, and other locations which offer fantastic graphics that immerses you in that particular environment.

Whilst this game is hidden in the depths, much like spider's themselves, no one can be blamed as it's pretty rare to find these days. If you're fortunate enough to find a copy, get it - you won't be disappointed.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

What could have been a quality game full of real survival scenarios you might expect in The Walking Dead universe, Survival Instinct doesn't deliver whatsoever.

Developer: Terminal Reality | Publisher: Activision | Genre: First-Person Shooter

PS3 | Xbox 360 | Wii U | Windows PC

It's always a shame when an idea as ambitious as this is completely ruined through lack of key features and gameplay mechanics, which if done correctly, would have made Survival Instinct a game worth playing. Unfortunately, there's practically no substance and leaves you more than disappointed.

Set before the events of The Walking Dead, Survival Instinct follows the story of Daryl Dixon as he comes to term with the recent zombie outbreak, all whilst trying to locate his brother Merle. Obviously, there's a few hick ups along the way as well as encounters with fellow survivors, but nothing so intriguing you'll be itching to carry on playing. The core narrative is nothing to boast about, leading to skipping cutscenes all together. review1

Right from the start, you'll be tested on your survival skills by taking out a few zombies here and there, making yourself familiar with the simple game mechanics and such. Zombies are generally slow, but can be a nuisance if they're in a pack and chasing you relentlessly, which they do - you might find yourself dying more times than initially anticipated. Of course, you can choose to sneak around, check corners before proceeding, and crouching.

Zombies unaware of your presence can be approached from behind, in which you'll be able to pull of a silent kill - this involves impaling your trusty knife through their skull. Rule #1 of zombie survival: destroy the brain, right? This is a nice touch but the novelty soon wears off. There are zombies literally everywhere you go, but there's no real satisfaction from killing them - there needs to be more incentive such as an XP/level up system or just more of a reason to keep on mowing down the undead.

The entire game plays out like this: get in vehicle, travel through the 'world map', break down, scavenge car parts and supplies, go back on road, rinse and repeat. It becomes boring very quick - perhaps Terminal Reality themselves got a little tired of making the game due to the fact environments are re-used for the breakdown sequences. If you break down near the start of the game, you explore the area for whatever is required, but further into the game you might find yourself doing the same in the exact same environment you were in earlier. That's physically impossible - it just goes to show how much this game was rushed and not thoroughly tested.

If you're going to play a game based on The Walking Dead, do yourself a favour and get stuck into Telltale's games. Survival Instinct offers a weak storyline with predictible and boring gameplay, giving a bad name for licensed games. So much could have been done to make Survival Instinct something truly special - perhaps an open-world game with genuine survival mechanics, instead we have a hugely disappointing cash grab.


Friday, 30 May 2014

REVIEW: Child of Light

Ubisoft have gone all-out with this incredibly artistic RPG, complete with a cast of unique characters and a narrative that will keep you wanting more.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Publisher: Ubisoft | Genre: Platformer / RPG

PS3 PS4 PS Vita (Coming Soon) | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | Wii U Windows PC 

Whilst this game is filled with often challenging battles complete with grotesque enemies, it's easy to get lost in the beautiful atmosphere, especially with a soundtrack full of ambience and relaxing tones. REVIEW1

After mysteriously falling asleep, a young girl known as Aurora, the protagonist in this story finds herself in a bizarre world known as Lemuria, which has strangely enough had its sun, moon, and stars stolen by Umbra the Dark Queen. Aurora is given the challenging task of retrieving what has been stolen so she can return to her own world and greet her father once again, who is the king in all of this. The narrative is played out in a storybook style with themes of good and evil, what it is to "grow up", and so forth, complete with spoken narration here and there.

Even before beginning the game, you'll be able to notice the incredible art style, a unique combination of what looks like hand drawn/painted pieces fused with a constant bombardment of visually striking environments and backgrounds, often making you forget you're actually playing a game at all. But this is a game (obviously), a 2-D platformer RPG featuring multiple layers and lots of enemies to keep you busy whilst exploring the vast world of Lemuria.

During the early stages, you'll encounter lots of generally easy enemies in order to give you room to learn the game's mechanics in terms of how to navigate the field and basic battle commands. Enemies can be seen in real-time, however once you interact with them you'll enter a battle mode featuring the active time battle system, which is a mix of the battle mechanics you'd get if you combined Grandia and Final Fantasy X, meaning there is a certain amount of time you must wait before utilizing your command but you are also given an infinite amount of time to consider what your next move should be. Although a single enemy can be seen in real-time, there may be up to three in actual battle, which keeps you on your toes as you might not have expected that to happen at all when initially stepping into combat.

The initial stage of a battle can depend on how you approach an enemy, for example if you manage to sneak up behind them you'll start off in a surprise attack state, meaning you have the opportunity to quickly use your attacks, spells, and skills to win the fight. Or an enemy can ambush you, ultimately leaving you to take a lot of damage early on, resulting in you having to wait longer before you can fight back. This keeps battles fresh and promotes different trains of thought when deciding how to take on the many monsters in the game, which there are a lot of and vary in skill sets, difficulty, and distinctive appearances. 

One of the main themes you are reminded of throughout the entire game is that of light versus dark - practically every enemy has a weakness against light-based attacks, but more notably is Aurora's firefly companion; Igniculus. This ball of light is a fantastic tool to help you along the adventure as he has many abilities such as being able to shine his vibrant glow on enemies to slow them down in battle or use his skills to heal Aurora and the rest of her party. Although his abilities are useful, they quickly consume a lot of 'wishes', which are essentially power to keep him going - these wishes can be found in real-time as well as within battle and are advised to collect if you are running low on energy.

There are various puzzles throughout which are way too easy and feel as if they've been put there to shamelessly extend the gameplay, but are a nice addition if you want a break from grinding for experience. No matter where you go, there are plenty of items to collect, whether it's coffers (treasure chests), stardust orbs, which are used to permanently increase stats, or confessions - a less common collectible that give an insight into the world of Lemuria. Not massively important but are worth finding as you'll be able to explore the vast world in detail, rather than heading straight to the end of the game. This is a game that needs exploring properly.

Along the way you'll bump into a whole host of other playable characters, in battle at least. These include Rubella, a Jester who specialises in healing and defence boosting, Finn, a spellcaster who can use his spells to effectively deal with element-based enemies. There are more characters to find but I'll let you do that yourself - each will offer a specific range of skills which are hugely helpful in some way or another. Only two characters can participate in battle at a time, however everyone will gain experience regardless of their involvement.

Like most RPGs, Child of Light is no different in terms of character development - you gain experience from enemies, more from bosses, allowing you to level up and gain skill points, which are used to unlock new skills, abilities, spells, and stat upgrades on a special grid which sort of resembles the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. Two Final Fantasy X references in one? I really don't mean to. The bosses are visually amazing, and can provide a challenge which will make you thankful you spent the extra time levelling up, or you might end up disappointed at the depressing game over screen if you rushed past potential battles instead of engaging in them. One of the bosses takes its own head off and throws it at you, causing massive damage - it's things like this that make you look forward to fighting the next boss as each is unique in their own way.

Eventually, you are able to fly through the skies, allowing for much faster travel and makes it easier to find those hidden coffers or stardust orbs. Although it's tempting to hastily navigate your way through some parts of the game, it's not advised as there are plenty of environmental hazards such as falling spikes and lava pits, which can cause a lot of damage in a small amount of time if you're not careful. 

It needs to be highlighted just how impressive the overall visual style is and the amount of thought and attention to detail put into the environments and sound design. For example, you could fall down a simple well and find yourself in a complex and beautiful underground structure or a basement in someone's house which ends up being a fiery cavern full of lava and undead enemies. Sometimes you need to stop and simply take in the art style because it's rare games are this stunning, but still provide excellent gameplay.

The music is often peaceful and ambient, which is nice to hear when you're flying through the clouds, but it's also nice to hear the environmental audio heard when travelling through a town, for example a busy market town will promote the sounds of people talking in a crowded environment much like a real market. This adds personality and a sense of atmosphere to the already colourful world.

Child of Light is an incredible story that holds its own with a brilliant battle system - that combined with the gorgeous world of Lemuria will keep you engaged for a lengthy amount of time, something which a good RPG should always do. 


Thursday, 29 May 2014

REVIEW: Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami takes the desire for casual gameplay, rips it apart, and throws you straight in the deep end.

Developer: Dennaton Games / Abstraction Games | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Genre: Action 

PS3 | PS4 | PS Vita | Mac | Windows PC | Linux |

A lengthy single player mode will keep you playing for longer than you might have expected due to the sheer amount of fun to be had, even whilst replaying the game over and over. A healthy challenge is guaranteed, although the level of difficulty could put off casual audiences.

It's the 80's and not much is going on aside from the fact our nameless protagonist is constantly being bombarded with anonymous phone calls from mysterious individuals who want you to fulfill questionable tasks including violent murder and rescue missions. The narrative does eventually get more interesting the more you play but generally it's not an important feature in a game such as this - Hotline Miami is all about arcade-style action at its finest.

Straight off the bat, you might realise the amount of retro influences put into the game, whether it's the incredibly well done music that came straight from an 80s dance club or the visual representations of that specific era in terms of character and level design. It reinforces that retro revival the gaming industry has taken in recent times and it's nice to see that retro ideologies and concepts haven't died out in a world obsessed with the best graphics and so forth. 

The entire game is played in a top-down point of view, and puts you in numerous environments usually set within multi-storey buildings. Each of these levels are generally packed with enemies who are able to kill you in a single hit and they hold no mercy - once you are in the enemies line of vision, they will come after you fearlessly with all they've got. That is, unless you manage to find a hiding spot and wait until they're gone so you can plan your next course of action. 

In the earlier parts of the game, enemies wield simple melee weapons which makes it easier for you to take care of them without having to worry about bullets and other projectiles, however later down the line practically every enemy will hold a gun of some sort, whether it's a double-barreled shotgun, an uzi or a carbine - they will aim to kill you if you cross their paths, so sometimes it's advised to use stealth tactics and kill off the enemies in a discreet and clever manner.  

Of course, you are also welcome to take advantage of all the available weapons, whether it's a baseball bat, a knife, a pair of scissors, a powerful magnum or a machine gun of some sort. Most of the time, you'll be picking up weapons from corpses on the ground, so you'll get the chance to experiment with a varied range of weaponry throughout the game. Additional weapons can be unlocked by racking up your score, which can be increased through killing enemies and stringing together a series of combos - by the end of the game, if you played well, you'll most likely have all the weapons unlocked.

Between each chapter, in which there are 20, you'll experience a series of interludes allowing you to soak up the 80's atmosphere - a nice reminder of the themes played on throughout the game. No matter how you dispose of the enemy, lots of blood and violence will play their parts, whether you rip someones head off or blast a few shotgun shells into the stomach - this is the kind of violence that's needed in a game such as this. Don't worry Jack Thompson, it's only a video game.

Within the levels, there are masks to collect - each one contains different traits, for example the Tony (the Tiger) mask grants you strong fist attacks, making it easy to pick off enemies without the hassle of loud gunshots and so forth. Another notable mask is Carl (the Grasshopper), which gives you a drill at the start of the level - Driller Killer, anyone? After eventually making it through a chapter, you'll be given a grade based on how well or how bad you did in terms of combos, creative killing, etc.

You will die a lot in this game, there is even an achievement/trophy that is awarded once you die 1000 times, which is almost a slap in the face as you're being praised for not being able to stay alive, but it's all in good fun and even though you will repeatedly die at times, you'll find yourself wanting to carry on anyway as the game is ridiculously fun and addictive. 

Whilst Hotline Miami may initially seem like a straight up fast-paced action game, there is plenty of room for tactical thought before taking on a level, for example there might be an open window you can sneak in through before entering a building, allowing you to take out enemies using stealth. Or you can simply blast your way through hoping that you don't get shot along the way - it's up to you how you play it.

Hotline Miami has enough hints at the final conclusion to keep you wanting more, but its biggest strength lies in the gameplay, which will keep you occupied for a long time, whether you want to gain the best grade on each chapter for bragging rights or collect all of the weapons and masks. This game deserves to be played due to the sheer amount of thought and detail gone into creating one of the most enjoyable games this generation has to offer. REVIEW1


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

REVIEW: Toy Soldiers: Cold War

If you ever used to play with toy soldiers (or still do), this game shows what they probably get up to when you're away.

Developer: Signal Studios | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Genre: Action / Strategy

Xbox 360  | Windows PC | Windows Phone

Fusing together a blend of well-balanced gameplay with a high level of replayability makes Toy Soldiers: Cold War a pleasure to play.

Taking influences from the escalating differences between the USSR and the United States during the 1980's, Toy Soldiers: Cold War pits players in a brutal battle filled with plastic, batteries, and toy helicopters - not your run of the mill war by any means. There isn't really a narrative so to speak, but it doesn't matter at all - this game is pure fun and total destruction at its best. The whole idea is hilarious - a bunch of toy soldiers coming to life just so they can blow each other up with any means necessary, it's like a part of Toy Story that wasn't allowed to be in the final cut.

At its core, Cold War is a defense game featuring a combination of third-person gameplay as well as strategic thought and tactics. Each level has a base to defend (rather a toy box), which when fully depleted of health, will end the mission, resulting in failure - so it's your job to deploy various defenses around the map to ensure that doesn't happen. These include the likes of a very basic unit such as the machine gun turret which is handy when a group of opposing troops are headed towards your base, it can quickly and effectively dispose of them through rapid firing. However, more advanced units include an anti-aircraft gun, which is practically pointless against those pesky land enemies but can deal massive damage to incoming enemy aircraft. REVIEW1

Other notable weapons include the roman candle, which is essentially a firework that spins in all directions all whilst spewing out bursts of explosions - especially useful against a group of tanks. This weapon is the result of numerous upgrades though, you are able to upgrade every unit, often taking up a lot of cash, which is earned by defeating enemies. A simple machine gun can be upgraded so it fires more rapidly and is able to zoom in further, making it easy to kill off any incoming soldiers at a moments notice.

Each of the units can be controlled or you can let the game do the work for you, although its advised to actually take control for yourself so you can effectively direct bullets and explosions in a particular direction instead of hoping the game will do it for you - it also feels much better as you get a certain sense of satisfaction. You are also able to control a selection of vehicles both land and airborne - these vehicles will appear on a number of stages and are powered by batteries, reinforcing the idea that you are actually playing with toys. These include a tank and a helicopter, which when used can be extremely powerful and effective against the enemy - always a good idea to take advantage of these playable vehicles when a boss appears.

Cold War isn't a difficult game, you are able to see the next wave of enemies before they depart from their base, giving you the tactical edge as it leaves a lot of time to strategically think about which type of units you are going to place or how you should spend any money in order to upgrade particular weapons. However, there are some challenging aspects, particularly the numerous bosses you'll encounter throughout the short campaign - they typically have lots of health, which when attacked appropriately shouldn't take too long to deplete, but without the right preparations, you could be in a lot of trouble.

Something called a barrage plays an important role in terms of achieving victory, a barrage is a mix of powerful rewards including the bombing run, which spreads a number of rockets over a bunch of enemies - others include the commando, an obvious Rambo clone, who is invincible and able to destroy any enemy that gets in the way. Barrages are only available once a certain amount of combo score has been accumulated, this is done through defeating a high amount of enemies in quick succession.

If you are stuck for something to do after the campaign, there are a range of mini-games that include various challenges and scoreboards, giving you that sense of competitiveness as well as being able to have a lot of fun at the same time. These include 'Dolled Up' - a continuous onslaught of enemies make themselves known and it's your job to gun them down all whilst trying to maintain a large combo to attain the highest score possible. Another example is 'Thread the Needle', in which you must navigate a rocket through various obstacles without colliding with the rest of the environment.

Each level feels like you're inside a world where only toys exist, the environments look like set pieces from a packet of toy soldiers, whether it's the plastic trees and landscapes or the cardboard cut outs of various houses and other buildings. It has a nice visual appeal, one that would generally only work in a game such as this.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War is a fantastic little game that promotes a lot of fun and entertaining gameplay, and whilst it could be a little longer, there's enough content here to keep you going for a while, whether it's trying to finish the in-game challenges or beating your friends scores within the mini-games. A reminder that games can sometimes just be fun and nothing more.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

RETRO REVIEW: Final Fantasy X

Arguably one of the most loved entries into the series, Final Fantasy X introduced voice acting and a truly unique character development system.

PS2 | PS3 (HD Remaster) | PS Vita (HD Remaster)

With the recently released Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, Gaming Till Dawn decided to look at the original and highlight just why it's such an incredible experience.

Originally released back in 2001, Final Fantasy X is considered a breakthrough in the series as it utilized voice-acting, impressive visuals and an incredible narrative that could pull the heart strings of the toughest gamer. The game's story starts on the horizon of the ruined city of Zanarkand, in which we are briefly introduced to the main protagonist; Tidus - an emotional yet determined character who you'll be playing as throughout this epic adventure. Other characters can be spotted, but at this point literally nothing is known of them - this is actually a point later on in the game, but for those who haven't played Final Fantasy X, no spoilers will be given. 

You'll travel throughout Spira as the guardian to Yuna - a summoner who's mission it is to rid the world of Sin, a gigantic monster who holds more secrets to Spira than initially meets the eye. Other guardians include Wakka, a larger than life Blitzball player, Lulu, a mysterious and knowledgeable black mage, Kimahri, a member of the Ronso tribe who swore to protect Yuna no matter what - those are the intial characters, later on you'll acquire Auron, a guardian of Tidus' father Jecht who promised he would look after Tidus, and finally Rikku, a member of the Al Bhed who isn't afraid of stealing items now and again. retroreview

There is so much to talk about with this game, so let's start with the sphere grid - like every Final Fantasy title, there comes a method to build up your character, and the sphere grid is perhaps one of the most unique ways of doing that. No longer do the characters simply level up and gain stat upgrades that way, rather you are encouraged to navigate a grid with upgrades dotted around the "map" so to speak, allowing you to custom design the way certain characters enhance themselves, for example, Lulu could pursue the white mage class instead - although that's not strongly advised, but is a good way of demonstrating the creativity involved with the sphere grid. Maybe you want to avoid the linear route you're expected to go and attempt to play the game in different ways by applying specific upgrades to characters in a non-conventional way.

Compared to today's graphics and visual enhancements, Final Fantasy X might not be impressive but at the time they were absolutely breathtaking and took full advantage of the PS2's software. This created some of the most visually striking environments, whether it was the sun-drenched island of Besaid full of tropical trees and small huts or the massive city of Luca, sporting the gigantic Blitzball sphere and modern technology such as video cameras and gigantic television screens - no matter where you went, highly detailed graphics were guaranteed. All of the characters had their own distinctive look, ranging from Yuna's discreet dress, Kimahri's furry blue skin or Auron's red coat and shades.

Speaking of characters, each offer an extremely interesting backstory - throughout the game, you'll get hints here and there of other characters, for example Kimhari's involvement with fellow Ronso's or how Auron got to Spira in the first place. It's nice that the game doesn't simply focus on Tidus, rather gives you a broad understanding of why everyone else is here and what their goals are aside from protecting Yuna.

The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's played a Final Fantasy game - the track "To Zanarkand" is one of the most memorable, giving you this beautiful atmosphere whenever it's played. Another notable track is "Suteki Da Ne", which is mesmerizing when heard - just a fantastic track that reflects the struggles and triumphs Tidus and the rest of the group have experienced on their travels. However, there are some really nice upbeat tracks such as "Seymour Battle" and of course the "Chocobo Theme".

Let's get down to the actual gameplay - Final Fantasy X has a gigantic library of enemies, most of which have a unique strength and/or weakness, allowing players to tactically decide their next move based on a particular enemy's traits. Before this game, most Final Fantasy titles had an active time battle (ATB) system (introduced in Final Fantasy IV), which let you choose your action once the waiting bar was filled, however, Final Fantasy X offers an original and unique system that allows you to take your time - this is known as the conditional turn-based battle system (CTB). The CTB system gives you the chance to think out your next decision without the pressure of having to worry about the enemy attacking you, which is a fantastic feature especially for those tough boss battles later on. 

There's a ton of mini-games to take part in, some more popular than others - however, it's Blitzball that really steals the show, this is an underwater sports game of sorts that pits teams of five against each other. It's a nice addition and gives you something to do if you want a break from the main narrative. Other mini-games include the infamous Chocobo Trainer - a series of events that test your Chocobo riding skills, although it's often frustrating and difficult as the Chocobo doesn't exactly go where you need it to most of the time.

Overall, Final Fantasy X will give you approximately 50 hours of fantastic gameplay accompanied with one of the best narratives in gaming history, however those who wish to fully experience the game should spend 80-90 hours, making sure all of the sidequests are completed or the sphere grids are fully maxed out. Either way, no matter how you play it, this is one of the best games not only on the PS2 but in the entire Final Fantasy series. If you haven't played it, go out and purchase the HD Remaster, which actually includes Final Fantasy X-2 as well, but that's another review all together.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

REVIEW: Alan Wake's American Nightmare

Everyone's favourite thriller-novelist Alan Wake is back battling The Taken once again.

Developer: Remedy Entertainment | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Genre: Third-Person / Horror

Windows PC | Xbox 360

As a quick fix to fill the anxious wait for an Alan Wake 2, American Nightmare provides enough satisfaction but lacks key aspects that made the original so good.

Taking place neither before or after the first Alan Wake game, this time around players take control of Wake within the TV show; 'Night Springs' - those who played the original might recognise it. In this specific episode, Wake discovers he has an evil doppelganger known as Mr. Scratch - a violent and disturbed version of himself. Mr. Scratch has a mission to tear away everything Wake holds dear to his heart, quickly making him the biggest threat in the game. Naturally. However, with Wake's ability to alter history and reality, he plans to make use of that to defeat Mr. Scratch and other forces of evil once and for all.

Whilst by definition, this game should be as scary and eerie as the original, it's not - instead Wake is greeted with enemies that are way too easy to defeat, characters that promote humour instead of horror with the exception of Mr. Scratch of course, who is a complete maniac. To reinforce the fact you're playing through a television show, many cutscenes are real life sequences, namely showing off Mr. Scratch's evil doings. Gameplay feels similar to the original, however everything feels so much more casual - the amount of ammo scattered around is so much it often takes away any challenge of defeating The Taken, and whilst this is perfect for some, those looking for a genuine tough time will be disappointed. REVIEW1

The separate arcade mode, which serves as a timed survival onslaught of enemies, provides the most challenging gameplay, especially on Nightmare mode - this is a nice addition and gives you something extra to do upon finishing the main game. Speaking of which, this game is short - very short. There are 3 acts, which are replayed over and over but with different scenarios due to Wake's ability to alter history, and whilst this sounds like a great way of mixing up the gameplay, it doesn't - instead you go on the same fetch quests you just did but with a slight twist each time.

Wake's primary methods of disposing the Taken is through his trusty flashlight and pistol - "it's gonna be like that again, huh?", Wake says appropriately upon discovering those familiar weapons, which is also a nice nod to the original. Speaking of the original - you are once again able to collect manuscripts to expand the narrative or they can be used to unlock weapon crates, usually containing powerful weapons such as a shotgun or the fully automatic carbine. Also spread around each level are TVs and radio players, often consisting of strange broadcasts from Mr. Scratch as well everyone's favourite talk show; Night Springs Radio. It's nice being  able to collect all of these things as it adds a depth of replayability and a further understanding of the events surrounding the game.

Once again, you can find refuge in numerous safe havens, giving you a breather from taking on the Taken, although most are generally easy to defeat. Apart from the usual type of Taken, you'll often be greeted with The Splitter - a newly introduced enemy that multiplies its presence upon being shot at, making for interesting gameplay in terms of how you take on this particular enemy. Other notable enemies include hordes of spiders who don't have any type of shield, making them easy to kill but can cause a minor challenge when a large group of them surround you at once - nothing a flash grenade can't sort out.

Overall, American Nightmare provides a further insight into the life of Alan Wake even though the narrative has nothing to do with the original - it's still nice being able to control Alan once again. A variety of enemies will keep you in the action long enough to forget about the repetitive fetch quests - a ton of replayability is available, especially with the arcade mode, which will truly test your skills. The length is the game's true downfall - reusing environments from previous levels doesn't really keep your interest long enough to be convinced this game is actually long, maybe with more original levels this would have been a much more satisfying experience. With that said, this isn't a full retail game so it can get away with being short in length, but it would be nice to have the same experience as the original - unfortunately, this game doesn't provide that.