Before I begin, I have to confess: I have not yet played Alan Wake. Even though I am very interested in this latest Xbox classic, I am an old fashioned guy and not a big fan of downloadable content; something that I am sure Alan Wake will receive plenty of in the future. As much as I would love pick up the controller and get lost in the chilling world of Alan Wake, I decided to wait for a game-of-the-year edition, which hopefully will contain all the DLCs. Nevertheless, not playing the game did not stop me from dwelling into the book based on the video game and getting a little taste of what millions of players are experiencing on the TV screens.
When it comes to video game adaptations, publishers tend to contract already established, experienced writers, capable of delivering “quality” products in a short amount of time. The problem with these “writing-robots,” however, is that they rarely seem to care for the subject they are writing on, often resulting in a quite mediocre product (of course, this does not mean there are no good video game adaptations out there). Luckily, Tor books, or whoever came up with the idea of Alan Wake the book, decided to go a different way and contract a previously unknown writer, Rick Burroughs.
Although no one should expect a literary classic, fans of the genre will be satisfied; the quality Burroughs delivers in this first publication of his reaches and, in certain aspects, supersedes similar video game novels. Perhaps because he lives in the Pacific Northwest, Burroughs does an excellent job depicting Bright Falls, the town in which the story takes place, and the surrounding wilderness. It is easy to picture the eerie little town, its interesting though a bit stereotypic residents, and the evil lurking the pine forests of the region.
Obviously, I am not able to compare the book’s story to that of the video game but, as far as I can tell, they seem to be pretty close. I did not particularly care for the action scenes, of which Alan Wake fortunately has rather few, and remain interested throughout the book. Wake’s story is exciting on its own, and the mystical atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest only adds to the excitement, making the book a real page-turner.
Overall, Alan Wake is an engaging supernatural thriller, definitely one of the better video game adaptations. Burroughs did a great job, and I hope to see more works from him in the future. Fans of the video game should definitely check out the book, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in horror and/or supernatural fiction.