Alan Wake

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Alan Wake Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Story-driven thriller with lots of terror, some violence.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Strong message of love, finding a way to confront your own weaknesses, become someone better in the process. Character fighting forces of darkness isn't done out of selfish desire but rather to solve mystery of what's happening, save love of his life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alan Wake is a creative, talented writer who started small, worked his way to success. At start, Wake constantly getting into trouble, treating others poorly. But over course of game, Wake forced to face consequences of his past behavior, ultimately become a better person in end.

Ease of Play

Straightforward action, but a learning curve for cinematic, slow-motion dodge timing.


Players fight all manner of possessed people, items with a combination of light sources (flashlights, flares, and the like), firearms. Player mainly shooting realistic guns at humanoid creatures. That being said, amount of blood is minimal, as defeated enemies usually burn away in flash of light, ash.


Some swear words scattered through, including "s--t," "asshole," "bitch," "damn," "hell."


First installment in a new franchise, which has included a pseudo sequel, prequel video series. Makes frequent use of product placement, including Verizon, Energizer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters shown drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, with some characters obviously inebriated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alan Wake is a supernatural-themed action-adventure game. Players will face human characters possessed by dark forces and fight them off with a combination of light sources and various firearms. Although the enemies disintegrate after being defeated, parents should still understand that players will be shooting realistic weapons at humanlike creatures. The game's characters make occasional use of profanity, with some also shown smoking and drinking. Product placement is integrated throughout the game, advertising things such as Energizer batteries and Verizon Wireless services.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySam D. January 9, 2018

Good if you're not sure about violent / horror games.

If your child is begging you to let them play video games with more mature themes, Alan Wake is a good game to introduce them to these themes.

The title chara... Continue reading
Adult Written byTy C. September 29, 2017

Not a game worthy of an M rating.

This should absolutely be a T rated game. There's not a lot to offend. It could be said that it has rough language, but nothing worse than late night show... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySquidwardLife2005 August 21, 2020

A really good game

This game is really fun and one of my absolute favourites. There is violence however this is usually against ghostly figures not actual humans. It's been a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byyousefwak July 25, 2019

What's it about?

In ALAN WAKE, the main character is a talented, best-selling author whose success has come with a price. After letting his success go to his head, alienating his friends and his wife, Wake is now suffering from writer's block. In an effort to help Alan reconnect with his creativity, his wife books a getaway to the small town of Bright Falls. But Bright Falls is not as peaceful as it seems. Just beneath its quaint and quirky facade, a dark presence is growing, looking to spread its evil influence -- and it wants to use Alan Wake to do so. To save his wife and the world, Wake must rewrite his story, fighting against the dark forces affecting the world around him and confronting his own darkness within.

Is it any good?

If you're going to cast a writer as the main character in a video game, you'd better make sure that the story is at least as compelling as anything he might create; thankfully, this adventure crafts an engaging plot that keeps the player on the edge of his seat. One of the more unique ways Alan Wake grabs hold of the player's attention is in its episodic construction. Each chapter is presented as if it's an episode of a TV show, complete with chapter credits and "Previously On" opening highlights. This narrative framing gives the player a constant sense of accomplishment after completing each chapter, while also dropping regular cliffhanger bread crumbs that keep the player eager to discover what happens next.

Ironically, the best things about the game also works against it, and, because the rest of the game is so thematically good, it's an extremely jarring experience when it falters. For example, there are two collectibles that players search for in the game: manuscript pages and coffee thermoses. The first actually makes sense in the context of the game's story, and each page gives insight not only into Alan Wake's past but also a glimpse into future events in the plot. Those coffee thermoses, though, serve no purpose whatsoever, other than to give completists something to look for. But this pulls the player out of the narrative completely. And since the story is a straightforward narrative, once it's over, it's over. Much like a really good book or a great movie, once you see it through to the end, you'll probably only go back from time to time to relive the experience, even though the surprises have lost their edge.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk about violence in media. Does it change the impact of violence when realistic weapons are used against supernatural enemies vs. regular humans? Does it lessen that impact when enemies simply dissolve and fade away versus having a more realistic death?

  • Families can talk about finding ways to use creativity and imagination. Alan Wake's titular hero found success as a best-selling author, but who are some real-life authors you admire, and what makes their stories so compelling?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows, Xbox 360
  • Price: $59.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Microsoft Studios
  • Release date: May 18, 2010
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: T for Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
  • Last updated: September 13, 2020

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