By now, you've likely seen the live demo of Alan Wake from Microsoft's E3 press conference. And you may have read our hands-on impressions of that section. Guess what? There's more to the E3 demo than you've seen or read. In fact, there's a short section that precedes the press conference demo and an extra 10 minutes or so that comes after. And those extra 10 minutes? They're far crazier than anything that preceded it.
The demo takes place about a third of the way into Alan Wake. It's nighttime, which is when bad things happen. Alan Wake is divided into day and nighttime sections, with the day spent wandering the open-world small town or Bright Falls and discovering the quirky locals. At night, the darkness comes and very bad things happen.
A darkness is growing in the world. At least, that's what Alan Wake has come to believe. His wife has gone missing, taken by someone or something that wants the missing pages of Wake's new manuscript. A large focus of the missions involves hunting down these pages, which prophetically foretell coming events. While there are many pages that you're required to find to progress the story, many more can be collected to discover background details.
The mysterious evil that appears to be growing stronger with each passing day is weak against the light. It can infect anyone or anything. The enemies fought in the demo are all townsfolk overtaken by this darkness. To kill them, you must first expose them to the light—either with your trusty flashlight, any other light-based weapon, or lights in the environment. Once exposed to the light, these enemies are vulnerable to physical attacks. And though you will have a variety of real-world weapons, they aren't nearly as important as light.
Watch the Alan Wake press conference demo.
The full demo begins with an introduction to Alan's neurotic agent and good friend, Barry Wheeler. Barry's got major allergy issues, which are in full effect in the woodsy town of Bright Falls. He thinks Wake might be going a bit loopy with his story of his wife's disappearance and dark evils in the night. Barry's such a naysayer. But you can mess with him if you like. Shine your flashlight in his eyes and he'll get annoyed, or shut the light off to leave him in the dark (he'll freak out).
Wake's mission is to meet up with Rusty, a local cop who says he's found a few of Wake's missing pages. On the path down towards Rusty's place, Wake comes across a page of his manuscript. This leads to a brief narration of the story. Wake reads, "He screamed,'They're here!' and then he pulled the trigger." And that's when things get weird. The lights along the trail blow out and a scream is heard from Rusty's place.
When Wake gets to Rusty's, he finds a trail of blood and Rusty crumpled against the wall. He tells Wake that he's hidden the pages. "It will come back to get me," Rusty tells him. And sure enough, it does. Before Rusty can tell Wake where the pages are hidden, he sees something over our hero's shoulder. "They're here," he screams before firing his gun. What comes next is the demo shown at the press conference. Rusty's been taken and Wake needs to get to him.
The press conference demo is mostly a combat demo, showing Wake taking out large groups of enemies. There are moments, particularly when using the flare, where time slows. This is not bullet time. You don't control this. It's a presentation element, meant to highlight some of the cooler action moments. Light is your weapon and your flashlight can always be relied upon. However, Wake believes he can "will" the light to be stronger when necessary. This drains the power. Don't worry, it always recharges. Batteries can also be found for instant reloads of your flashlight's power.