Alan Wake



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

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game has a positive message of love (for the protagonist's wife) and bravery (to protect the people from the possessed humans). However, the violence is frequent and somewhat sensationalized, and the feeling of dread and terror is relentless throughout.

Positive role models

The titular hero is clearly a good man who exhibits qualities of bravery and self-sacrifice as he tries to save his missing wife. He fights, but only protect himself and others. He flees instead of engaging in combat whenever he can. He is the light fighting against the dark, both literally and figuratively.


Ease of play

The game is very easy to pick up and play on the Xbox 360 controller.


Players shoot at people possessed by a supernatural entity referred to as "the darkness." Sources of light, including flashlights, flares, and flash grenades, are often employed to combat not only the possessed humans, but also birds and inanimate objects controlled by the evil entity. Blood can be seen on our hero's face, but it is not gratuitous. Some cut-scene sequences suggest the game's possessed enemies are killing innocent humans, but only screams are heard. 


Not applicable

Some swear words can be heard infrequently, including "s--t," "asshole," "bitch," "damn" and "hell."



There is noticeable product placement in this game, including Energizer battery packages and a Lincoln town car.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The game shows people smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. In one scene, characters are inebriated, slurring their words and talking about the hangovers they'll have in the morning.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Alan Wake is rated "Teen" rather than "Mature." There is violence and a little blood, but it's not as graphic or sustained as other video games with shooting. Plus, our hero is a fundamentally good man who typically prefers to flee whenever possible and only fights his evil, supernatural assailants when absolutely necessary. That said, he does wield a weapon and shoot at enemies, some of which are possessed people.


What's it about?

If David Lynch and J. J. Abrams ever collaborated on a video game, the result would likely resemble ALAN WAKE, a strange single-player adventure about a bestselling author in the middle of a dry spell. To overcome his writer's block, Alan's wife, Alice, brings him to a small north-western town called Bright Falls (think Twin Peaks), but Alice soon disappears without a trace. After awakening from a blackout, Wake discovers he has written a new manuscript depicting the events happening around him, but can't remember what he put down on paper -- until he starts finding sheets strewn throughout the town that fill in some blanks and foreshadow impending danger.

Is it any good?


This 10- to 12-hour story-driven horror game delivers plenty of thrills and chills. Played from a third-person perspective, Wake must explore the once-idyllic town in which he finds himself, talk with many memorable residents to gather clues, and work together with allies such as the town sheriff and his agent to battle supernatural foes. Combat focuses on using light to defeat the creepy things that go bump in the night. This includes weapons (such as flash grenades) and tools (flashlights and flares).

Gamers who prefer story-driven adventures, such as Sony's Heavy Rain or EA's Mass Effect 2, should appreciate Alan Wake as an interactive suspense novel with supernatural undertones.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how games like Alan Wake envelop the gamer in an atmospheric tale dripping with suspense, memorable characters, and an interactive world to explore. What's different about the story in this game as opposed to other games? It's clear the developers were influenced by other media, such as movies, books, and TV shows. Should more game designers look elsewhere for inspiration?

  • Families can also discuss the difference between battling normal humans and possessed humans. Does this make the violence seem less visceral? Or do you pity the possessed all the more because they've been taken over and have no control of their actions?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
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 (Xbox 360)

This review of Alan Wake was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old June 27, 2011


One of the best games i've ever played. I got scared at a couple parts like when you don't think any thing is going to happen and suddenly an ax hits you. There is a bit of swearing and some blood but by far one the best games ever.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old December 30, 2010
I only saw the part when the guy from his stories and says how he feels in his stories and something about a pickaxe while you run away while my dad was playing. I also saw the part when he runs into the hitch hiker. It was a little creepy, but I knew it was going to get creepyer from there on out. The main character would rather flee than fight, so he is a very good role model. The controls also looked easy.
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 9 years old October 10, 2012

alan wake is so nice

its so great for kids
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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