Review: Alan Wake: The Signal

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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Review: Alan Wake: The Signal

The first batch of DLC for Alan Wake is a pretty big letdown.

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minotaur199

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Sep 10, 2009
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Hey is it just me, or is there an error with the video? i cant play it... Sry for the bother.
 

04whim

New member
Apr 16, 2009
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Yeah, I'm just getting a button marked "Play again" rather than an actual play... which wouldn't be a problem if it actually played when I hit it >.>
 

PseudoDuck

Bacon Robot
Oct 18, 2009
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I've just played a bit (I think I can say that I'm up to the bit with the car without it being a spoiler as such) and I agree completely. Too much combat in this DLC.

I didn't mind the odd fight in the main game, but there was one moment (in the second to last episode I think it was) where you're in a building and LOADS of Taken appear, but you have little to no ammo to take them down, so you have to run outside and to the nearest checkpoint.
That was the worst moment in the main game and The Signal seems like they took that part and made DLC out of it.

I love the combat mechanic (taking on just enough Taken was fun), but the actual amount of combat in this episode is making it wear thin. I'll finish it tomorrow, and I may try and play though it again for all the achievements so, as it's free DLC I'll only say that it's a slight disappointment, rather than a major one.
 

Jared

The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
5,630
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Wished it was more...I loved the game, and, from the sounds of it this is obvious cash in 101...
 

PseudoDuck

Bacon Robot
Oct 18, 2009
149
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Jaredin said:
Wished it was more...I loved the game, and, from the sounds of it this is obvious cash in 101...
Except it's free if you bought a new copy of the game...hardly a cash in. ;)
 

Woodsey

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Aug 9, 2009
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I know they couldn't really answer questions in the DLC (in case people don't buy it and miss something important) but I really have no problem with them giving more questions; there's just no plot there.

It just reminded me of the most frustrating parts of the main game; too many enemies and random objects flying at you every fucking second during combat.

In one part the camera must have done the slow-mo turn around to reveal enemies too me 3 times in a bloody minute.
 

Chrono212

Fluttershy has a mean K:DR
May 19, 2009
1,846
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I just finished Alan Wake *looks at watch* 2 hours ago :p
However, I had to rent is so no code for me which leads me on to how much does this DLC cost? Or is that TBA?

Also, it's a shame they missed the point of the story (as in that is the core of the game) and focused on the not bland but reasonably repetitive combat...although towards the end of the game it was solid and satisfying.
 

Proverbial Jon

Not evil, just mildly malevolent
Nov 10, 2009
2,093
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Hmm video no worky for me either...

I agree with Susan on this, there wasn't much story but to be honest I still had a lot of fun.

I have just played it... in about 2 hours! I never really expected it to be very long, no longer than all the other episodes at any rate, so in that regard I can't complain. It was a lot harder than any of the others (I died a lot more anyway) and it's very fast paced and the gameplay is much more varied with some surprisingly fun parts. As usual it looks fantastic but I did have trouble in some parts because it was just TOO dark!

I'm glad it was free with my code though, I would feel a little bit duped if I'd had to pay for that. I know a lot of work goes into Alan Wake, but the quality does seem to hinder the quantity just a little too much in this case.

Susan Arendt said:
Susan Arendt still thinks Barry is one of the best sidekicks ever created.
Yes, I agree. But he was INCREDIBLY annoying in the DLC I thought. He was very well done in the main game, used just enough to not become boring or annoying. But here, here he had no place. His talking got on my nerves and I rarely laughed at him. Considering I wished he would go away and leave me with the Taken... doesn't bode well!
 

Starke

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Mar 6, 2008
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I'm getting the video problem as well. It looks like, for some reason, the video's been flagged as having a duration of 0 or something.
 

Tornik

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Mar 4, 2010
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While I couldn't agree more that 'The Signal' is a letdown, I have to disagree with your opinion of the full game.

I thought that the story and writing started off well enough, but went rapidly downhill, ending up an incoherent mess towards the end. The resolution somehow managed to feel rushed, anti-climactic and meandering all at the same time. The supposed cliffhanger ending had less impact than one of the flash-bangs in the game.

I did however, like the game engine, I thought that the town and forest were well rendered, and even if the slightly wonky lip-synching let the character models down, the rest of the world looked superb.

Weirdly enough, I really liked Barry as a character, so I'll agree with you on that point too.
 

Eri

The Light of Dawn
Feb 21, 2009
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If this video was my offspring, I would say, "Son, I am disappoint."
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
7,222
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Proverbial Jon said:
Susan Arendt said:
Susan Arendt still thinks Barry is one of the best sidekicks ever created.
Yes, I agree. But he was INCREDIBLY annoying in the DLC I thought. He was very well done in the main game, used just enough to not become boring or annoying. But here, here he had no place. His talking got on my nerves and I rarely laughed at him. Considering I wished he would go away and leave me with the Taken... doesn't bode well!
Aw, really? I thought he was super in the DLC, one of the few bright spots. The moments with Alan and Barry were very charming, I thought.

Also, apologies for the problem with the video. Should be sorted now.
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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I agree, but I can't really complain about it. I never buy DLC, I only got this because it's free. And I love free stuff.
 

Liberaliter

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Sep 17, 2008
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I completely forgot about this, I was hoping the DLC would further the story but ah well. It is free.
 

duchaked

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Dec 25, 2008
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uhh guess they didn't learn about stand out in-game advertising instead of weaving it in smoothly haha...
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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Well that's a shame. I absolutely adored the full game and was quite looking forward to this. But then perhaps these "miniseries" as they call them are just that: quick bits that serve merely to get us to the full Alan Wake/Season 2.
 

Sniper Team 4

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Apr 28, 2010
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Barry is the greatest sidekick ever. "It's my flaming eye of Mordor" is my new catch phrase.

Haven't played this yet, but from the sound of it, I'm going to be a little sad. I want to know what happens next in the story, not kill more Taken.
 

Nova5

Interceptor
Sep 5, 2009
589
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I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the DLC. It seems that a lot of people are harping on it not having advanced the plot, but it really just feels as though it's setting up something major - the fundamental problem with episodic DLC.

However, this is balanced by some of the most genuinely innovative level design I've ever seen. The whole DLC is essentially one long dream sequence, and probably the best-executed I've played through as far back as I can remember.

That's pretty much my take on it.
 

DecaKen

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Jul 28, 2010
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PseudoDuck said:
I've just played a bit (I think I can say that I'm up to the bit with the car without it being a spoiler as such) and I agree completely. Too much combat in this DLC.

I didn't mind the odd fight in the main game, but there was one moment (in the second to last episode I think it was) where you're in a building and LOADS of Taken appear, but you have little to no ammo to take them down, so you have to run outside and to the nearest checkpoint.
That was the worst moment in the main game and The Signal seems like they took that part and made DLC out of it.

I love the combat mechanic (taking on just enough Taken was fun), but the actual amount of combat in this episode is making it wear thin. I'll finish it tomorrow, and I may try and play though it again for all the achievements so, as it's free DLC I'll only say that it's a slight disappointment, rather than a major one.
of course theres going to be a lot of combat jackass your sinking deeper into the darkness, your in there territory, it wouldnt make sense if there was only a few of them like the main game, this DLC was amazing really loves seeing Alan on the TV going insane.
 

Cyan.

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May 10, 2010
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Well screw this.

I loved the DLC.

First people complain its too easy and the combat is to uninteresting and the final boss was easy and dull.

So, in the DLC they ramp the difficulty to 11/10 and beef up the combat with things like explosive barrels, special things shining your torch on can trigger traps within the environment or even spawn enemies. There is even posessed killer cars driving about!! The final boss sequence is hard as nails on nightmare difficulty, and totally scary and awesome.


I personally enjoied the dive into insanity, and if you actually followed the plot worth a damn, this DOES advance the story to the point of adding more mistique about Alans mind in the "dark place".

AND IT WAS FREE!!!!


EDIT - I would also like to point out it was far more surreal and scary this time around.


In essence, it was a small refresher of all the best parts of the original game in a free downloadable nugget.
 

Omegatronacles

Guardian Of Forever
Oct 15, 2009
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So I had the collectors edition of Alan Wake. Played through the game, enjoyed it immensely. Went use my free download code... Apparently my code was not correct. Rang Microsoft support. "Sorry sir, but evidently someone else has already activated that code. The codes are single use only."

I bought the game on release day. I had the receipt in my hand. Lady didn't care. Made me sad.

Now I am less sad, seeing as the DLC seems fairly lame anyway. Thanks Susan, for making my day less sad =)
 

Javex

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Mar 15, 2010
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I really liked the DLC. I played the original game on Hard, and only died a few times. I find the combat much more challenging this time around. But there were also cool environmental parts, like the street lights or the furnaces. Or the "literal" minefield. See what I did there?

I haven't finished it entirely yet (just at the street lights). But I can agree that it hasn't totally advanced the story that far, but helped us understand more about the dark presence and how it ties into Alan. Plus it's more Alan Wake for free. So no complaints there.

Also, one thing I can't overlook in this review. The fact that it was short. Well, according to Susan, it was about 2-3 hours, which is an average Alan Wake chapter. This is one chapter in DLC format. The length sounds right to me, according to the full game.

Anyway, can't wait for "The Writer" DLC! And/or a sequel!
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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Not G. Ivingname said:
Susan Arendt said:
So your enjoyment of this is in direct proportion of how much you liked the story and how much you liked the combat.
Pretty much, yep.

Omegatronacles said:
So I had the collectors edition of Alan Wake. Played through the game, enjoyed it immensely. Went use my free download code... Apparently my code was not correct. Rang Microsoft support. "Sorry sir, but evidently someone else has already activated that code. The codes are single use only."

I bought the game on release day. I had the receipt in my hand. Lady didn't care. Made me sad.

Now I am less sad, seeing as the DLC seems fairly lame anyway. Thanks Susan, for making my day less sad =)
I believe there were some issues with folks redeeming their codes if they tried it too soon, and that Microsoft is working on the issue. (Not sure if that happened with you or not, of course.)
 

Dhatz

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Aug 18, 2009
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first impressions: spoiler subtitles. Seen better in star wars dark resurrection.
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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I liked how the opening line coincides perfectly with Susan's opinion of the DLC.

I know that there are supposedly tons of justifications for DLC, in the same way that there are supposedly tons of justifications for me paying £40 a year to play games I've already bought with my friends, but in the case of a game that's so story-driven, leaving us on a cliffhanger at the end of the actual campaign and giving us no real resolution strikes me as an unjustified cash-in, especially when the game took so long to produce.

While it was mentioned that this batch of DLC is free with a box code, I got my copy second hand and so that doesn't apply to me. Additionally, I doubt the second DLC will be free, and with talk of a sequel, the decision to end on such a confusing note comes across more and more as the Assassin's Creed / Modern Warfare "staggered story" approach, where a plot which could probably be put into one game is stretched over three, ostensibly to create some sort of saga, but in reality probably because game writers cost money, and because having one story over three games is easier to account for in other aspects of production. (Looooong sentence) I guess my point is that a game like Alan Wake, focused on a narrative rather than gameplay, should wrap each installment up under its own banner; especially when the likelihood of a sequel can easily be jeopardized by poor sales.

Sorry to rag on, but Alan Wake was one of the few games I actually cared about this year.
 

Mako SOLDIER

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Dec 13, 2008
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I have to respectfully disagree on most, if not all, points. The DLC was never intended to advance the main story. Sure it's a cotinuation of sorts, but that's all it was meant to be. After all, if there is a sequel, why should people have to have played the DLC in order to understand how it starts? The whole point of the 'Specials' is that they will occur between Season 1 and Season 2 but won't be necessary in order to understand the plot of either. I don't really understand why anyone would have been expecting some kind of story revelations from that.

Gameplay-wise, I agree that it was harder and more hectic than the earlier episodes, but that's kinda the point. It is completely in keeping with the setting and the story that such a scenario would play out in such a way. Man it's hard to write this without spoilers. Basically, it's hard but it's not THAT hard, and the pacing is not all that different from some of the longer sections where the original game throws lots of enemies at you in a row. In the signal, at least that same kind of pacing is framed with some very satisfying surreal imagery and level progression. TVs scattered throughout The Signal do the same kind of job as the manuscript pages did in the original game, only this time that storytelling device is used in a much more visceral and immediately threatening way. We literally get to witness a violently insane force doing everything it can to tear Alan apart both physically and mentally. Sure it's a change of pace, and there is hardly any breathing room, but it's a welcome change. Anyone who wanted the original game to be a little more freaky and genuinely scary will be pretty happy with the DLC so far.

And if you think about a few plot elements (not neccessarily just what you see in the cutscenes), there are a good few subtle clues regarding the main story.

Personally, although The Signal is a little story-lite in terms of the main story and the cutscenes, I would still give it a solid 8 or 9 out of ten. In my opinion (and that of a good few reviewers, as you'll notice if you google it), The Signal is an excellent add-on and an example of how all DLC should be done.

No offense to Susan, but I implore anyone who is sitting on the fence about the DLC to ignore this review and make their own mind up.
 

Mako SOLDIER

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SFJ said:
in the case of a game that's so story-driven, leaving us on a cliffhanger at the end of the actual campaign and giving us no real resolution strikes me as an unjustified cash-in, especially when the game took so long to produce.
If there had been 2 'specials' aired between the first and second seasons of 'Lost', would you expect them to sit there and carefully explain the first season? Even if there were any significant story revelations involved, would you really expect them in the first of the two episodes? Besides, the main ending is not really a cliffhanger. It resolves the main story of that game, and it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. A cliffhanger would mean ending the main story right in the middle of something. The DLC ends on a cliffhanger, but the main game just leaves the story set up for a sequel. There's a huge difference between the two things.

Again, it can't be a cash-in if it's free, and seeing as neither MS or Remedy get a single penny from what you paid for the game second hand, the price of the DLC hardly sends them soaring into profit.
 

Shil

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May 9, 2010
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The Signal is an absolute disappointment to Alan Wake. I personally loved the game, and I couldn't wait for the DLC after I beat it. However, from the moment I got it, I started to hate it.

I used the code to get the free DLC and of course, it wasn't. I had to pay 540 microsoft points regardless of whether or not I got the code. This is the second time I've been ripped off by "Free" DLC that was supposed to be included with the game itself.

As for gameplay, the combat was the (Second) weakest part in my opinion (the first being the lip syncing, which most people know is awful) which really set me off. The only actual story part of the content is that you get Zane telling you where to go. Nothing is known about Allice or any of the other Bright Falls members, which is how I thought The Signal would be. Instead, you're stuck with fight after fight (as explained) and absolutely awful achievements. Tractors being tossed in front of doors so you can't get in, monster trucks that drive at you while you get ambushed from behind by taken, and the part that I'm currently at that I absolutely refuse to do anymore, points where Alan just can't seem to climb onto one simple stack of wood, but can apparently jump from a box onto it as he slips and slides and is more than likely out of breath by the time you want to jump.

Had I gotten this DLC free like I should have, it wouldn't be so bad. Since I had to pay with my Microsoft points, it makes me feel like I've been stabbed in the back by possibly one of the greatest games I had ever played.
 

Serfix

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Jun 16, 2010
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Well I played trought the DLC and I must say I liked it. There might be some spoilers for some.

In my opinion this was a bridge section to other episode. Why it was so combat based? In my opinion because Alan is in bottom of that dark lake and surrounded by it and starts writing more and more darkness to script and that means more enemies and wierd stuff. Alan that you play was just trying to get rid of that and all that darkness by fighting trought it.

And yes it contained lots of combat but I loved it because there were new ways of using light. Like in that basement with those furnances in there that you can blow up just using your light or that part when u needed to be careful where you point your light or more enemies comes at you.

So again, in my opinion it fits right in with the plot.
 

Noxshadow

u mad?
Jan 12, 2010
188
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I kind of agree. The combat was all over the place with the Signal. But in story terms, it amounts to filler. Alan Wake was scary because not just because of the atmosphere, but because of the shifting and dynamic story that always kept you on your toes. The Signal is still just as creepy as the main game, but the static story (Your objective for 90% of the episode is "follow the GPS Signal") makes it less meaningful. There are some interesting sequences (The 'bad words' sequence springs to mind). The manuscript pages foretelling what is about to happen to Alan are replaced with TVs that portray an insane Alan, rambling narration of Alan's death ahead. It's interesting and creepy at first, but quickly loses it's creep factor; and comes off mostly as annoying.
 

The White Light

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Jul 2, 2009
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I personally liked it. As with the rest of Alan Wake when I started it I couldn't stop until I got to the end. While the combat is a lot harder, that's because this is Alan's nightmare which is explained if you follow the plot. And I agree, the plot is lacking, but I felt it advanced quicker than the regular game, where it was: 1.You are here 2.You need to go here 3.Your mode of transport won't work so you have to walk 4.Fight tons of Taken, those damn ravens, and possessed objects 5.Arrive and receive next plot point and awesome song. It's supposed to be a quicker plot, because both of the 2 DLC's have to breach the gap between Alan Wake, and the possible sequel (which, just going off sales and ratings for the game, is likely that they will make one. Plus they already have the story written).

Ok, so there's my semi-rant done. Anyways, whether or not you enjoy this is based on your mindset. Sometimes that happens for people, where something is unliked by one person with a review show and everyone follows behind them in droves. Don't take Susan's opinion of this to heart! Go and buy it for yourself! Then decide whether or not you like it! (No offense to you Susan, you guys all do pretty enjoyable reviews).
 

Grimcicle

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Jul 28, 2010
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So a two to three hour chapter is your idea of "short, really really short?" What exactly do you expect out of $7 DLC for a game whose on-disc chapters were 1-3 hours long?

I loved it. Sure the plot of the DLC has an "interquel" feel to it, but I wasn't really expecting much more than that. I'm sure Remedy is still hoping that the game will sell enough to warrant a full-fledged sequel, so the story can be resolved in full retail fashion.
 

Susan Arendt

Nerd Queen
Jan 9, 2007
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Grimcicle said:
So a two to three hour chapter is your idea of "short, really really short?" What exactly do you expect out of $7 DLC for a game whose on-disc chapters were 1-3 hours long?

I loved it. Sure the plot of the DLC has an "interquel" feel to it, but I wasn't really expecting much more than that. I'm sure Remedy is still hoping that the game will sell enough to warrant a full-fledged sequel, so the story can be resolved in full retail fashion.
I consider two hours to be too little meat for $7 - that said, this is free to folks who bought the game, and I certainly understand the point of view that the length of the DLC is in keeping with an individual chapter of the game.

I also happen to hope that Remedy comes through with a complete sequel, as I very much enjoyed the main game.
 

Grimcicle

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The game has supposedly sold over 600,000 copies at this point, so hopefully it will hit a million in the coming months. I'm not so sure what kind of numbers the game needs to sell to justify a sequel, especially after a five year multimillion dollar development cycle.

I didn't have much faith in a sequel after the abysmal May NPD figures, but it seems that people are actually giving this game a shot now that they're all done with Red Dead Redemption.
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
Jan 3, 2009
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This is a disappointment for me, I hated the combat in Alan Wake.

Too many cheap attacks from enemies who spawn behind you, no variety in enemies and those incredibly annoying crows are back too? Damn.

Not to mention Microsoft's epic fail that means many of the people who bought the game new still haven't gotten their code for free download yet.
 

Mako SOLDIER

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MiracleOfSound said:
Not to mention Microsoft's epic fail that means many of the people who bought the game new still haven't gotten their code for free download yet.
Actually, that's not really MS's fault. It's entirely the fault of the people who redeemed the code when it states quite clearly that the DLC is not out yet. Sure, people who bought if later may have been confused, but if it's not available on Marketplace why would they think it's a good idea to redeem the code. They should apparently recieve their code by email within the next 24 hours or so. That's not a long time to wait for MS to fix what is essentially a user error.
 

Juan Regular

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Cyan. said:
Well screw this.

I loved the DLC.
This an everything else you said. It was awesome and the reactions just show how hard it is to please everyone at the same time.
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
Jan 3, 2009
17,776
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Mako SOLDIER said:
MiracleOfSound said:
Not to mention Microsoft's epic fail that means many of the people who bought the game new still haven't gotten their code for free download yet.
Actually, that's not really MS's fault. It's entirely the fault of the people who redeemed the code when it states quite clearly that the DLC is not out yet. Sure, people who bought if later may have been confused, but if it's not available on Marketplace why would they think it's a good idea to redeem the code. They should apparently recieve their code by email within the next 24 hours or so. That's not a long time to wait for MS to fix what is essentially a user error.
The instructions were not clear at all.

People thought it was going to be like Cerberus Network, in that putting in the code unlocked the abilty to get free stuff later. Nowhere on the card did it tell you to wait. Also, when you redeemed it it told you that you would soon get some free shit.

If that many people were confused by it, it was a fail on thier behalf.
 

Antiparticle

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Dec 8, 2008
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Good-a review, I mostly agree.
There is a lot more emphasis on combat, and the combat is also harder, but that's ok since the main game was kind of easy (on Normal difficulty anyway). There are some new elements such as the furnaces, lampposts, possessed cars and the field of 'bad words', but it would have been nice to have a little more story development or combat-free sections such as in the main game. Still, it's worth the money I paid for it! (Haha.)
I'm already looking forward to The Writer, I'll probably get it even if it's another "combat"-DLC, I'm kind of hooked on the world of Alan Wake...

Oh, and finally, about Barry... I didn't like the DLC Barry so much. The real Barry was kind of goofy and sometimes dim but he was a good guy and one of the few really reliable people in the world of Alan Wake. The DLC Barry, however, is too smartass, and I don't trust him either... I kept expecting him to suddenly appear behind me, say something like "IT'S ALWAYS WHO YOU LEAST EXPECT, ISN'T IT AL?" in a distorted voice, and proceed to split my skull open with an axe or something. I hope Alan escapes the nightmare world again in The Writer. I also wanna know what's going on in the town.
 

SW9

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Feb 15, 2010
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i dont get the narrators speak patterns..who talks like that?
 

Joa_Belgium

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Aug 29, 2009
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It's a DLC episode, what did you expect? That it would be keeping you busy for four hours in one go?
 

Distorted Stu

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Sep 22, 2009
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I played through it as soon as i got home. Confusing, uey epic stuff! I can't wait for more!

Also, its much harder than i thought and the achievments are kinda hard too
 

Broken Note

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Jul 29, 2010
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Sniper Team 4 said:
Barry is the greatest sidekick ever. "It's my flaming eye of Mordor" is my new catch phrase.
How many opportunities does one really have to use that line? Or would we be better off not knowing?

Honestly, I quite enjoyed the DLC. The lack of resolution was a little frustrating, but considering it was free I can't complain too much. It was a fun two hours wasted, although if the next DLC, 'The Writer' is more of the same, I'll be pretty disappointed.
 

Catalyst6

Dapper Fellow
Apr 21, 2010
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Didn't this game *just* come out? Why wasn't the DLC part of the main game itself?
 

MiracleOfSound

Fight like a Krogan
Jan 3, 2009
17,776
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Ugh.

I ddn't enjoy this DLC at all.

The visuals were fantastic and all but the combat was just horrendous... throwing tonnes of enemies at you at once felt like a cheap and irritating way to raise the difficulty.

Who at Remedy though having enemies spawn behind the player was a good idea??

And those stupid ravens again...

Plus there was pretty much nothing but combat all the way through.

Still, at least it was free. If I had paid for this I'd be mighty pissed off.
 

TheAceTheOne

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Jul 27, 2010
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Depressingly enough, I haven't played the DLC yet. However, Barry is one of my favorite characters in recent memory.
 

DaftRaider42

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Jul 1, 2009
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I really enjoyed the DLC.

I can forgive the seemingly endless combat because the TV's and ending imply that Alan is going through some sort of 'Self-Loathing', forcing himself to battle his way through his own psyche, personified by the Dark Place and its twisted version of Bright Falls. Defeating the final boss, basically his own brain rebelling against him, will hopefully snap him out of it in time for "The Writer"

And, as DLC, it worked! I'm so hyped to see what will come next for Alan.