23 April 2011

Girls Stand About

Alan Wake is an interesting, atmosopheric game about a writer whose holiday turns into a nightmare of monstrous shadows.  I'd heard a lot of good things about it, and going in found it intriguing as Alan has a precognitive vision or two, and he and his wife take a ferry and then drive to the holiday house they've rented on a spit of land almost like an island.

Alan's wife apparently has a crippling fear of the dark, and so when they arrive at the house around sunset, and the lights aren't on, she won't go into the house and waits on the porch for Alan to find the problem and fix it.  Alan (or I, rather) explored the house, the back porch, wandered down the back and finally returned to the porch.  Whereupon Alan's wife, still standing there in the growing gloom, helpfully pointed out a power line leading to a nearby shed for Alan to follow and fix the problem.

Two tips for people who have a crippling fear of the dark:

1. Carry a small powerful torch at all times.
2. Learn how to fix fuses and start generators yourself.

Not long before playing Alan Wake, I was playing a hidden object game which took this issue to new levels.  Two people in a shattered city, man and woman, trying to escape.  Scene after scene the woman would be standing about, while her boyfriend fetched her clothes, fetched the items she wanted, solved the issues related to escaping the city, while the woman literally just stood there.  She wasn't injured, she didn't have the excuse of being paralysed by fear: she just stood there.

In both games the stand-about woman was quickly kidnapped, to my intense relief.  In both cases, my appreciation of the game completely changed because I found them so annoying.

It's small things like these, often highly individual reactions to issues the writers didn't even consider, which can completely change the way a reader/player reacts to a story.

1 comment:

  1. A better solution would have been to have the wife do the "pick a direction to look for lights and I'll pick the other, and oh, by the way, I'm taking the only torch we have" then the game could set up two possible places for lights and make available the one in the direction Alan chooses. It's a bit more work but gives more of a "my decisions have an effect" feel.

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