Bright Falls Episode 5: Off the Record

The final episode of Bright Falls are finally upon us. Episode five is called “Off the Record.”

Before you watch episode five, make sure you’ve seen the previous episodes.
1. Oh Deer | 2. Time Flies | 3. Lights Out | 4. Local Flavor

There’s no turning back now. Off the Record gets right down to business. Jake wants answers, and he’s running out of time. The episode continues the series trend of uncompromising development. There isn’t a second of filler. Every single frame, sentence, character action – they’re all there for a reason.

Unlike the other episodes, this one focuses on a single mystery and really drives it home. Rather than continue asking “why” or “who” and getting vague answers, we’re going to find out “what.” What is Jake doing when he blacks out? What is going on in the time lapses? What specifically is happening to him?

As we find out, it might be safer not knowing. Continue reading Bright Falls Episode 5: Off the Record

Will Alan Wake Live Up to Bright Falls?

Alan Wake ScreenshotChris J. Thompson put up a review of Bright Falls (update: no longer active) for Popculture Hound earlier this week. He’s got a lot of great things to say about the series, which if you’ll remember was originally planned to be little more than an advertisement for Alan Wake. Since it’s release, Bright Falls has earned a great deal of critical praise and even it’s own fanbase separate from those anticipating the game itself.

Chris offers up a sentiment I’ve been hearing with greater and greater frequency:

Based on the strength of the four episodes I’ve watched, the game itself has a lot to live up to! Bright Falls sets the bar very high indeed and it’s obvious they’ve invested a lot of time and money to make sure this project is done just right.

Video game “adaptations” have had a poor reputation for years. When it was announced that there would be a live action tie-in to help promote Alan Wake, very few had high hopes for the six part series. How ironic that now, for maybe the first time ever, people are asking if the video game can live up to the video game adaptation.

We’ll find out in just a few short days.

Deerfest Video

The Deerfest video from episode four has shown up online.

NOTE: This video is not a Bright Falls episode. If you’re looking for episodes you want to go here.

As you’ll remember from episode 4 (titled Local Flavor), Jake goes into a trance while watching this odd video for Deerfest. The event is also mentioned on the radio in episode 2 (Time Flies). Continue reading Deerfest Video

G4, Lost, and the Setting of Bright Falls

In a previous post on G4 and David Lynch I mentioned the coverage G4TV has been giving bright falls. They’ve since posted articles on the third and fourth episodes as well.

LostIn their impressions of episode 3 Gaskill recaps the episode noting specific references to Lost. Fans of the ABC series will find more comparisons between the storytelling elements than anything else. If you’ve been following Lost all this time (we’re almost there, guys!) you’re plenty familiar with the “more questions than answers” approach. It’s as if each new answer actually reveals a greater distance to the truth…

In the episode 4 impressions Stephen Johnson notes “The Alan Wake ‘Bright Falls’ promotional webisodes are the best promotional webisodes I’ve ever seen.” It’s odd to even think of them as webisodes at this point, but I’m right there with you Stephen. He goes on to say: Continue reading G4, Lost, and the Setting of Bright Falls

Bright Falls Episode 4: Local Flavor

Well look at that! Bright Falls actually shows up on Xbox Live on time this week. Hopefully that trend will continue next week. If they’re sticking to the schedule they originally announced, the last two episodes should go up a week from today. In the mean time we’ve got the fourth episode, which is called “Local Flavor”.

New to Bright Falls? Bright Falls is a series and this is episode four so you really don’t want to start here. The other episodes are all online, so start from the beginning and make sure you don’t miss anything. Episode 1: Oh Deer, Episode 2: Time Flies, and Episode 3: Lights Out.

After spending some time with Sam and Daniel last episode we’re right back to following Jake. Local Flavor was notable for having a good deal of both funny and frightening moments, even though it was only four minutes long. Sometimes those moments even overlapped, which isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s a real testament to the series that it can pack so much into such a tiny package.

“The plot thickens!” is pretty much the Bright Falls motto – however, after three straight episodes of fleshing out the mystery, the pieces are finally starting to come together. Many of the characters are still a complete mystery, but the time lapse clues are droping right into place. With only two installments remaining, I think we’re deep enough into the series to formulate some solid theories. Continue reading Bright Falls Episode 4: Local Flavor

Joystiq Interviews Director Phillip Van

Phillip VanGriffin McElroy did an interview with Phillip Van for Joystiq. Phillip, the director and co-writer of Bright Falls, shed some light on a few popular questions fans have been asking.

He talks a bit about pitching his idea through the company Little Minx. Apparently he and Agency 215 (who set up the project) had very similar ideas and were a natural fit for one another. After constructing an outline and writing a treatment, he talks about his presentation for the pitch.

I’m from Oregon, and I was able to include a photo series and a bunch of footage that I shot, some of which made it into the final cut — wide establishing shots, things like that. It just gave a greater sense of my vision for things. UPDATE: He’s likely talking about this video – Phillip Van Bright Falls Atmosphere Video

Phillip goes on to talk about filming the series in Oregon and Washington and the problems they encountered along the way. Continue reading Joystiq Interviews Director Phillip Van

New York Times Article

It’s worth reading the original write up on Bright Falls in The New York Times Arts Beat blog. If you haven’t seen it yet, the article was written by Seth Schiesel and talks about Bright Falls an an introduction to Alan Wake. “These days”, the article states, “the best and most interesting games are distinguished not by their graphics or combat mechanics, but by their writing, design, portrayals of character and depth of story.” It goes on to explain Bright Falls as a way to convince potential players that Alan Wake is prepared to deliver on that promise.

Alan Wake Scenery Screen

There’s a few quotes from Phillip Van (the director and co-writer of Bright Falls) about the making. Van talks about attempting to match locations from the game. Dr. Harman’s lodge, for instance, is the same location that Stanley Kubrick used for the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. On an unrelated note – who knew Phillip Van was only 29?! I suddenly feel like I haven’t done anything with my life! Continue reading New York Times Article

Bright Falls Episode 3: Lights Out

There’s a brand new episode of Bright Falls that seems to have hit the web before Xbox Live. Not sure what’s going on over there…anyways the episode is called “Lights Out.

If you haven’t already watched them, the previous two episodes are also available. Episode 1: Oh Deer and Episode 2: Time Flies

This episode is a little different in that it focuses equally on Jake as well as Sam Smith (Cooper Huckabee’s character). Seeing what Sam’s up to while Jake isn’t around is revealing, as I’ll get to in a moment. The tone remains very suspenseful without the usual scare moment we’ve come to expect. A nice way of mixing things up.

As with each episode, the more we learn the less we know. The characters are front and center in Lights Out. We knew there was something not to be trusted about the people of Bright Falls, but now it’s a question of who to trust the least. Motivations are really starting to come into question. Everyone is suspect, although I’m starting to change my mind about a few of them. Continue reading Bright Falls Episode 3: Lights Out

Gaming and Art

You might expect that Bright Falls would get a lot of coverage on gaming sites because of it’s connection to Alan Wake. You would be right!

Jake Forsyth in Bright FallsJoystiq posted a Public Service Announcement about the shorts appearing on Xbox Live. It’s fascinating to note that nearly the entire audience for Bright Falls are gamers. The Xbox Live launch gave the series a great built in audience. As I wrote about in a previous post, the two entities feed off eachother.

As the reactions to Bright Falls have been coming in, Joystiq still has one of my favorite quotes: “Watching it is like staring into the inky, black eye of madness.”

Speaking of great reactions, MyGaming put up an article called Alan Wake prequel Bright Falls is out, is weird. How great is that? Where as Joystiq framed theirs as a PSA, the MyGaming post reads like a warning. “…late at night, when you’re trying to sleep, and you can’t seem to forget what you saw, or what you think you saw, or what you might’ve imagined all along, and what was that, anyway?” Continue reading Gaming and Art

Viral Advertising

There are several new articles that popped up about Bright Falls.

Advertising Age listed it in their Best Ads section. The site works in conjunction with Creativity Online who featured it in their AdCritic section. Creative Review is another site focusing on the advertising angle. Although it requires you to login to view the article, had a write up about it this week as well.

Art is ResistanceThe term “viral advertising” has been thrown around so much in recent years that it’s become hard to define. When I think of viral advertising, I remember back to I Love Bees, Year Zero, Why So Serious? and The Lost Experience. While I suppose those are all alternate reality games, the two terms used to be synonymous.

It’s easy to forget that Bright Falls was created as an advertisement. It was produced to get people excited about Alan Wake. It creates buzz, gets everyone talking. It has a certain “did you see this?!” shock value to it, and that’ll get gamers interested in the upcoming Xbox 360 title. While that makes it seem like Bright Falls is doing Xbox a huge favor, think about the other side of things. Continue reading Viral Advertising