The Writer – The Absolute Worst Kind of DLC
Today with the release of The Writer marked the ‘end’ of Alan Wake. If you’ve played through this piece of DLC, you know what that emphasis means. While Alan Wake has had a (relatively) small following in the grand scheme of things, fans have been waiting for a conclusive end to Remedy’s Stephen King-ish thriller since May. In the weeks leading up to the release of The Writer, fans were delighted to hear that The Writer would deliver that conclusive ending.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the trailer. Kind of makes you think there might be an ending somewhere in there…
Before we continue, you’ll be thrilled to learn that this article contains massive spoilers and conjecture. It’s an opinion piece first and foremost, but does not reflect the opinion of everyone on staff at RoH. If you haven’t played through The Writer or The Signal or even Alan Wake at all, you’d be best to turn back now. If you’d like to read RoH’s official review of Alan Wake, click here.
I really liked The Writer. It was relevant and did add a fair bit to the storyline, even if it was all in Alan’s imagination in the Dark Place. The boss battle was pretty damned awesome (“Let’s crack open that case of writer’s block, Alan!”) and the set pieces and environments left me on edge for the duration of the game. The trip through the culvert pipes if that’s what they could be called was pretty intense. It had a good play-time and was pretty fun to play as well. It wasn’t too bad…I guess. I can tell you that I’d be happier of Alan Wake 2 was well on its way to being finished, that’s for sure.
So maybe The Writer didn’t deliver the happy ending many people were hoping for, when Alan would wake up from some horrible nightmare and be reunited with Alice. I didn’t expect any of that as Alan Wake isn’t exactly a light-hearted romp through the dark and spooky forest. In fact, some of the best game stories out there leave you wondering what the hell happened (cough~Silent Hill~cough) and are open to a bit of interpretation. Alan Wake could have been one of those games. So how does that make The Writer a horrible piece of DLC? Well, it definitely has a lot more to do with the game itself than the DLC. Alan Wake was a game with amazing potential. It could have been an open-world game, the idea was scrapped. There were loads of promotional images leaked onto the Internet, half of them didn’t make it into the final game. For one reason or another, a lot of material for the game just never saw the final project. These things happen, ideas gradually become unfeasible and things change–I get that.
What I don’t get is how Remedy can feel justified in charging for two pieces of DLC that were touted to finish the story that should have been on the disc. This is what makes The Writer the absolute worst kind of DLC–the kind of DLC that haunts every gamer’s worst nightmare and their wallet. And it unfortunately sets a horrible precedent. How many more developers are going to catch on to the fact that gamers like conclusive storylines to their games and are willing to pay extra to get them? How many more unfinished games are we going to see released in the future, only to have to shell out a few dollars more for the actual ending? It was the top argument against DLC in the first place. Forget that you had to dish out $2.00 for some horse armour, you could have just gone without. Are we actually going to have to start paying more to get a proper ending to our games now?
Imagine if you were playing Resident Evil 5 (Surprise! Another spoiler!) and the game ended with Wesker’s taking off on the fighter? Chris and Sheva never made it onto the plane and the game just ended? You’d think “Awesome, that sets up an amazing sequel!” But it doesn’t exactly leave you feeling satisfied with the game you just played, does it? Two days after the release of Resident Evil 5, Capcom states that you can purchase a set of DLC called ‘The Amazing Finish that Absolutely 100% is Conclusive!” You kind of feel uncomfortable sitting down, you can’t walk right for the next few days, and any time the name Capcom comes up you mutter something under your breath. Alan Wake is like that–and instead of just getting the royal screw-job treatment once, a lot of us fell for it twice! And it didn’t even deliver on its promise! And if that was the ending, fuck that! (LOL)
Sure, Remedy floated around the idea of a sequel to Alan Wake, but with less than stellar sales, the possibility of Alan Wake 2 ever seeing the light of day is slim to nil. Sorry guys, hate to break it to you–even if the desire is there, if the all-mighty ruler Current Cash + New Revenue Potential isn’t there, then it just isn’t happening. So what fans are left with, after all of this time waiting and being teased that this would be ‘an’ ending, what are we left with? “The Return” that may not ever happen?
I have to admit that I could have simply not purchased the game and gone about my happy life believing that Alan Wake was lost forever because he was a major asshole to his wife, his friends and his fans. Sure, it might not have been a happy ending, but it was an ending nonetheless. I’m sure that many of you are going to say exactly the same thing. The other day I went to McDonald’s (my fault, I know) for breakfast on my way to work. I ordered a breakfast sandwich and requested that they not put any meat on it. I looked at the box they gave it to me in and went on my way, and I was fairly impressed until I opened the box to find just a bun. Did I complain? No, I sat in my car and ate the bun because I saw that all I really paid for was a McGriddle, minus the egg, minus the meat.