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Alan Wake Remastered (Switch) Review

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Oronalex:
More port than remasterhttp://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/62276/alan-wake-remastered-switch-reviewAlan Wake was originally released in 2010 on the Xbox 360. It has since been ported around, given side stories and even shared an interconnected universe but never a sequel.  Finally in 2021 at the Game Awards, Alan Wake II was announced. While it’s still a ways away, a remaster of the original Alan Wake was made to appease the fans but also to update character models and environments to utilize the power of today’s modern consoles. It’s an especially exciting time for Nintendo fans, as Alan Wake has previously never been on a Nintendo console before until now. So how does it fare as a remastered classic on the Switch hardware? The answer is that it’s absolutely capable but unfortunately loses a lot of what makes the game a remaster in the first place.    Alan Wake begins with the titular protagonist and famed author venturing to the sleepy town of Bright Falls with his wife, to overcome a two year writer's block. It’s here that Wake experiences odd townsfolk, and living nightmares of faceless demon people in a fight of light vs dark that come directly from his own writing. Equipped with guns and a flashlight, Wake intends to finish the story he doesn’t even remember starting. It’s a compelling plot that pushes the narrative along at a pretty brisk pace. Each chapter of the game moves organically to the next, giving a genuine desire to find out what happens next.    What was great back in 2010 is just as good now. Very little has changed as far as the narrative, except with some updated graphics and character models. The face models were updated to more closely reflect those of the voice actors themselves. If you had never played the original, you’d never have known, so this update is definitely for the hardcore fans and historians. Otherwise, the voice acting and models look tantamount to the original as well as this remaster on other platforms. Wake narrates the ongoing events with crisp audio, and animations flow well as you explore.    Where this remaster falters is in the details. When comparing the PC/console versions of the original and remaster, there are detailed improvements from updated textures to small but impressive features such as trees swaying in the breeze and other environmental movement. In the Switch version, those details are almost entirely lost. Textures look fine but generally appear more on par with the 2010 version than the remaster on other platforms. Trees are generally stagnant, as well as a majority of the environment (outside of interactables). Given the fact that the remaster really only brings FPS changes, redone cutscenes, visual effects, new lighting, and environmental detail, it does feel like the Switch model is missing a lot of what made the remaster different. While we get the updated models and cutscenes, the rest is left on the cutting room floor. Switch owners get a lot of the blurry, muddy visuals of the 2010 original but now with updated facial models.    So as an almost direct port of Alan Wake, I am happy to say that the game itself runs great. Controls were easy to manage and performance remained steady. Using a flashlight to stun demonic shadow enemies in combination with your guns to finish them off feels smooth. Especially in the chaotic moments, the action sequences present a tense, frantic atmosphere, while the mystery surrounding Bright Falls is genuinely intriguing. This is a psychological thriller that feels just as good now as it did back then.    When compared to the other, more powerful consoles, the Switch version of Alan Wake Remastered feels like a step down visually: in terms of muddy graphics and visual detail. The Nintendo Switch doesn’t struggle against it, but concessions had to be made. Fortunately, there’s an added director’s commentary to soothe that blow. When compared to the original Alan Wake, though, the Switch port is absolutely comparable. There’s similar gameplay and visual treatment that we’d seen back in 2010, which isn’t a bad thing, though you may not want to revisit it too often. Porting an Xbox 360 game to the Nintendo Switch isn’t necessarily a big feat, but at the end of the day, at least we now have another fine way to play this fantastic game.

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