Alan Wake Game Poster Image

Alan Wake



Story-driven thriller with lots of terror, some violence.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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.

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.

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 playe''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.

Families can talk 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
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:May 18, 2010
ESRB rating:T for Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence

This review of Alan Wake was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old March 5, 2013

Good game for some, a little mature for others.

This game is very good in my opinion. I think this game is a little bit violent because as Alan Wake you have to destroy the taken, the possessed innocent people controlled by the demons of the dark. To destroy them, you must kill it by first shining the light at the taken and then finish it off by shooting them with pistols, shotguns, rifles, etc. You can kill them instantly by throwing a flash bang, flare or shoot of a flare out of a flare gun. In one part of the game, you have to try and help Rusty the Park Ranger after he got attacked by one of the taken. When Alan got to him, Rusty had clearly got attacked in the middle of the floor and crawled over to the wall to lean on. You can tell that by the long, gory blood trail he left behind him. Otherwise that is the only blood you can see in the game. You can't see blood when you shoot at one of the taken or if Alan gets hurt. I have been looking at other people's reviews and saw that the sex category has not been a problem. I agree with that, but it's just that Alice, Alan's wife, and Alan kiss a few times through and Alice shows a little bit of cleavage. There is quite a bit of language through out the game. Some of them are a--, b---h, h--l, s--t, d--n, crap. Those are used frequently throughout the game. God and Jesus are used a few times in the game. Some consumer products I saw were Lincoln, Chevy, Ford, and Energizer (sorry Duracell). There is not a huge drinking or drug problem. At the diner in the beginning of the game, you see a few people drinking. Throughout the game, you can see a few people smoking cigarettes. I give this game one book out of three because it is not really a learning game, but it makes you think. It is kind of hard to explain if you haven't played the game, but as it says right on the cover, it is a physiological thriller. As you play as Alan, throughout the game you might notice manuscript pages. Alan Wake is a writer, which is why he traveled to Bright Falls (the stories setting) because he had a writers block. Anyway, on the manuscript pages, is Alan's idea of the next book he was going to write, but didn't write. And on the television sets you can see another version of Alan writing these manuscript pages, talking like a physco in a place he kept on saying is called "Night Falls." I researched this when I got done with the game, and apparently it was hinting at the sequel, "Alan Wakes American Nightmare." The game does not come out on disc, just Xbox Iive. Thank you for reading my review and hope it was helpful! And by the way, you are scared it might be a horror game, don't be. it is a little bit creepy in a way, but not very scary.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byCWG1 July 28, 2013

Scary and really fun

This has amazing graphics and stunning game play that makes this a very fun game. Considering though that it's a horror game a lot of people may not enjoy it. It does contain some violence, but mild to no blood at all. It has language, but typical T rated language. Alcohol is used and sometimes Alan is drunk. It doesn't have any terrible content except for being scary so I think this would be okay for 10 and up. If this were rated as movies are rated it would be PG-13: For some Terror and Scary Images, Violent Content, Some Drinking, and Language.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bybrendandaly711 December 29, 2012

Possessed psychopaths on the loose!!

This is an excellent third person shooter which incorporates an amazing graphical display with fantastic physics and a feeling of hopelessness. I would not recommend this game to anyone who is easily scared, as there are many parts of the game when you may startle yourself into a heart attack!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing