Description: Stephen King in Twin Peaks with a gun and a flashlight.
Conveniences: Next checkpoint indicator alleviates the lack of maps; glowing arrows hint at secret ammo stashes.
Annoyances: Constantly losing equipment during chapter transitions; no way to automatically read the pages of the novel as they’re collected.
Standouts: Fantastic visualization of “the darkness” and the Pacific North-West.
- Combat relies on illuminating opponents to dispel shrouds of darkness; once the shrouds are gone, the enemies can be shot with mundane weapons. Dissolving these shrouds is typically done by “focusing” Alan’s flashlight, which quickly drains its energy. The flashlight is always on and never completely runs out of juice, but the focusing mechanic requires a steady supply of batteries (especially during prolonged combat sequences).
- None of the enemies drop any items, so the player is stuck with statically placed collectibles for replenishing his arsenal. This is fine for the most part, but some sections contain optional or infinitely-spawning enemies that can trick the player into wasting ammo and leaving him defenseless.
- Seemingly random slowdowns take place as enemies appear or are dispatched. These “breathers” help the player dodge attacks and quickly swivel around to analyze the battlefield, but they’re too infrequent to be a reliable tool.
- The enemies’ vulnerability to light creates some interesting scenarios that play on typical shooter conventions, e.g., flares stun apparitions (although they also make it more difficult to spot and shoot them), exploding gas tanks create a flash that disintegrates the darkness, spotlights behave like machine gun turrets, etc.
- In addition to a handful of human enemy types, the ubiquitous darkness can also possess inanimate objects and fling them at the player. This is actually a neat way of adding variety without having to create a slew of new animations, but it’s used rather sparingly and with too few objects types.
- Mines, lumber mills, junkyards, energy plants, and many other locations make the town of Bright Falls feel like a real place. There’s still plenty of nonsensical spots where firearms can be found, but Alan actually acknowledges this issue by insinuating that the darkness is the ’cause of electricians carrying flashbangs and many other oddities.
- Various in-game TVs can be used to watch shorts originally filmed to promote the game. It’s a neat idea, but the live-action videos — especially those featuring Alan — tend to break the suspension of disbelief.
- Chase scenes through forests littered with bear traps, driving segments, battles featuring friendly companions, Alamo standoffs, and numerous other scenarios help keep the gameplay varied.
- Finding scattered pages is a great motif that’s tied into the game’s story. The pages tell of future events, making them a bit spoiler-ish, but reading their contents is optional.