Review – Alan Wake Remastered (Switch)

There were so many factors pointing towards the Nintendo Switch port of Alan Wake Remastered to be a beautiful disaster of cataclysmic proportions. The first factor was the Switch’s hardware itself, known for not being able to properly render a demanding AAA outing, unless your name is DOOM or The Witcher 3. The second factor was Remedy and Epic quietly dropping the game on the eShop without prior advertisement or upfront reviews, and at a discount nonetheless. Finally, there were a handful of pictures from early adopters supposedly showcasing the game as an Ark: Survival Evolved disaster. I was being drawn to this like a moth is attracted to the Burning Man sculpture… only to find out that Alan Wake on the Switch is just bad. It’s not BAD bad, just bad. That’s even more disappointing, in my opinion.

Alan Wake Remastered Alan Wake

For a guy stuck inside a nightmare, you don’t look so tense.

Let me explain: Switch ports of AAA games almost feel like a Russian roulette at times. Whenever something really good is released, we all rejoice and purchase it, even though said ports are usually expensive and not exactly a proper fit for a portable (see my NieR: Automata review for further details). There are also the laughably horrendous Switch ports, things you almost want to buy out of sheer irony, in a “come see the freak” kind of way, such as Ark and WWE 2K18. Alan Wake Remastered is neither of those. It’s just “another underwhelming port” that has no reason to be considered as a viable purchase.

Alan Wake Remastered Switch Ferry

I feel you, Alan. I had the same expression upon witnessing these visuals.

As expected, it’s really ugly, its resolution is reduced, and its textural/particle effects are underwhelming as hell. It does look like you are trying to run the game on a PC with the same specifications of a PSP. It actually looks uglier and more dated than the original version of Alan Wake released for Xbox 360 all those years ago. Remedy could have easily re-released that version in particular and results would have been less egregious. It doesn’t help that Alan Wake Remastered is plastered with cutscenes in between set pieces, where you’re able to see how the game was SUPPOSED to look like, or how it looks like in other, more capable platforms.

Alan Wake Remastered Combat

These flashlights have a worse battery life than my still functioning iPod Video from 2008.

That doesn’t make it completely unplayable, though. I’m not going to convince you it’s absolutely fun, but the framerate, while wonky, is serviceable, and the game doesn’t look 100% hideous in portable mode. The controls are sluggish, but that’s more of a consequence of Alan Wake being a sluggish game. The whole “light foes up and then shoot them” gameplay loop is amusing at first, but it gets tiresome after a while. What really annoyed me was a handful of mandatory “running away from monsters” set pieces where I was mostly fighting against Alan’s inability to sprint for me more than four seconds at a time. He’s got worst stamina than someone with asthma.

Weirdly enough, there is one good aspect in this port. Unlike most Switch ports of bigger AAA games, where compression is mandatory in order to reduce a game’s file size as much as possible, Alan Wake Remastered‘s sound design is still pretty good. The music, the voice acting, the sound effects, they don’t sound excessively compressed. Sure, listening to Alan’s inner monologues via the Switch’s speakers is sinful, but playing it with some decent earphones mitigated these issues.

Alan Wake Remastered Ugly

I somehow managed to take a screenshot that makes the game look somewhat decent and not entirely despicably horrendous.

If you’re expecting for the Nintendo Switch version of Alan Wake Remastered to be a beautiful dumpster fire of a port, you’ll be disappointed. By no means is this good, or even mediocre, but I’ve seen much worse on the system. It’s just yet another unnecessary port that not only doesn’t perform well on such limited hardware, but also doesn’t fit in at all as a game available on a portable system. There’s just no reason for you to bother with it. If you really want to give it a go with everybody’s favorite grumpy video game writer, you can probably find a PS4 or Xbox One copy at a sizeable discount nowadays.


Graphics: 5.0

It looks like trying to run a AAA game on a PC with the same specs of a PSP. Everything is muddy, poorly lighted, and low-res. At the same time, the framerate is choppy, but somewhat stable. I was expecting much worse.

Gameplay: 6.0

It’s sluggish, but not entirely unresponsive. It’s less of an issue stemming from the port and more from the original game’s design process itself.

Sound: 8.0

The voice acting and soundtrack was left largely untouched. It doesn’t even sound excessively compressed like most Switch ports.

Fun Factor: 5.0

It’s a bad port of a cult classic. It’s not good enough to be a recommendation for fans, but also not terrible enough to be recommended as an ironic novelty.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Alan Wake Remastered is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch. The original Alan Wake is also available on Xbox 360, and is backwards compatible with Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.

Reviewed on Switch.