Also available on Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/19/2022 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
When the Alan Wake remaster came out late last year, we finally saw the game leave Xbox exclusivity and make its way to Playstation. Unfortunately for Playstation fans, developer Remedy has said that they have no plans to remaster the follow-up, so Alan Wake’s American Nightmare will remain an Xbox 360 exclusive. Thankfully, it’s included in Xbox’s backwards compatibility program, and it gets a nice frame rate boost when playing on the more powerful Xbox models.
American Nightmare picks up where Alan Wake left off. I’ll stay intentionally vague about that for folks who haven’t played Alan Wake but want to play the remaster in the future, but it flows pretty well into American Nightmare. That said, the storytelling kind of falls off a cliff past the initial setup, and that’s being generous. The story itself doesn’t make a ton of sense since it adds in a time loop mechanic – it’s basically “What if Groundhog Day were a horror movie?” – and they don’t do a great job of explaining why that happens. They give an explanation, but it’s not a great one. You finish the game asking, “Okay, but why?” and that’s not a good thing.
That said, the game is a lot of fun to play. The story may be quite lackluster, but the gameplay is rock solid. It gets repetitive, but the combat is fun, and you can unlock more weapons than the original game included by finding manuscript pages, although unlike the first game, this one doesn’t really explain why there are manuscript pages lying around Arizona. Still, it’s kind of awesome to run around with a nail gun and an assault rifle. As for the visuals and performance, I obviously benefited from playing on Series X with all the horsepower of the Golden Horde, so I can’t really speak to the experience of playing on 360 hardware especially with frame rate or resolution, but the models themselves looked good and speaks to how impressive the game’s development was if it just needed a resolution and FPS bump to make it feel almost like a last-gen game.
All in all, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a competent follow-up, but it definitely falls short of feeling like a true sequel. It’s definitely more of a gaiden-esque side story, and that’s pretty much how it was billed back when it first released. The story falls far short of the original game, but the combat is solid even if the game gets super repetitive. It’s not a stellar experience, but if you enjoyed Alan Wake’s combat, it’s definitely worth a play.