If you were one of the super smart people like us who bought Alan Wake brand new, you should have found a voucher code thingy inside the box for your game, entitling you to a free download of the first episode of downloadable content for the game when it became available. A few long months later, the aforementioned episode ‘The Signal’ was finally released just the other day, and so I delved right in.
The new episode begins in an all-too-familiar place that you may remember visiting a couple of times during the main game, and places you in a very similar scenario, too. At first you might think they’ve really just replicated a bunch of places from the game and added one or two little things – and, well, they kind of have in a few places – but because of the situation Wake has found himself in, all of these places are now well and truly messed up beyond all reason. The thick, black, freaky smoke is way thicker, much blacker, and far freakier than before, and the deep, ominous music and darkness is deeper and darker, keeping you on your toes, even more-so than you may recall from the main story.
Though I found Alan Wake to be a very creepy and fright-worthy story to play a part in, I found myself feeling way more uneasy and a little more disturbed throughout The Signal. The familiar settings you keep finding yourself in are constantly changing, and you are often thrown into disarray when your surroundings twist and deform into a bizarre place that takes you right out of your comfort zone, and is full of bloodthirsty shadow folks who would love nothing more than to chop you into pieces with their axes and chainsaws. Yay!
In one rather memorable moment, you have to try to make your way through a ‘field’ of broken lights that are constantly flicking on and off, offering taunting, erratic illusions of safety across the entire area whilst being chased by any number of Taken, the standard enemy of the game.
Collectible items such as ammunition and flashlight batteries are now all found in a different kind of way now, too. If you remember toward the end of the main story, Alan found a bunch of floating words in the air, words like ‘Ravens’, ‘Table’, and ‘Telephone’, that if you shone your torch onto them they would materialize into the objects they described. Well, because this episode is set in the still-being-written imagination of his mind, Wake has to find life-saving supplies in the form of floating words, and also finds numerous, rather fun action words lying around, like ‘Bang!’, or ‘Blast!’, which you would do well to see for yourself what they do…
If you enjoyed collecting the manuscripts and coffee thermoses before, then you’ll be pleased to know there are 10 ticking alarm clocks to be found throughout this new episode, as well as a number of life-size cardboard cutouts of key game characters, which should satisfy the collectible hunter within you, that is, if you have the patience and courage to rummage around in the darkest areas of the nightmare before you progress.
Sadly, the episode only took me a single uninterrupted hour to complete, which means if you’re looking for a massive new extension to the game you could be greatly disappointed. But in all honesty, I don’t think you can complain about it’s length whatsoever, because I was very entertained throughout the episode, and felt it was a brilliant continuation of the game – even if it didn’t really answer or explain anything about what happens next.
If you have the free voucher – or a spare 560 points – and didn’t trade or sell the retail copy of the game when you completed it, you should definitely download this short but sweet addition to the deep, dark story of Alan Wake.