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Parents' Guide to

Alan Wake

By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

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

Game Windows , Xbox 360 2010
Alan Wake Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 12+

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 character is trying to save his kidnapped wife, and along the way must defend himself against people who are "possessed" by darkness. The only way to survive is by killing these people. Guns are the main method of killing, but the visual violence is very toned down compared to other games. There is minimal blood involved, as the "monsters" simply vanish into thin air. The character mainly interacts with people of good moral character, including police officers and many cheerful civilians. Some of the people you meet will become possessed, meaning you will have to kill them. Although some people are saying the game is not scary at all, it will probably be for your kids. If you or your kid are afraid of the dark, be prepared to be on constant edge. If you are in a house with lights on, you'll never know if the lights will stay on. Your character must find his way through the dark forests, avoiding the monsters and other obstacles. What makes it scary isn't jumpscares, but instead the suspense of waiting for a monster to appear, and then the chase scenes when you can't destroy all of them in time. Depending on which difficulty you play on, you may run out of ammo often, meaning you'll have to run fast and dodge any attacks while making your way to the next safe haven (usually a street light or similar). There is some mild language in this game, which I only caught after reading the subtitles. If you leave the subtitles off, your kids probably won't catch it, either.
age 13+

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 shows on basic cable. The Product Placement is distractingly bad. I genuine don't mind PP when it feels natural, but it never does in this game.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9 ):
Kids say (38 ):

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.

Game Details

  • Platforms: Windows , Xbox 360
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Not available online
  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Release date: May 18, 2010
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: T for Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
  • Last updated: January 13, 2022

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