Possibly one of the most under-appreciated titles of 2010, Alan Wake has managed to cull a relatively dedicated cult following. While the combat and story might not have captivated the enormous demographic of titles such as Modern Warfare 3 or the Mass Effect series, there’s no doubt that Remedy Entertainment attempted to bring something new to the table with their writer-turned-hero (especially in terms of storytelling).

Unfortunately, the title suffered from poor and ill-timed marketing, releasing alongside the Red Dead Redemption juggernaut – though series fans were given a shred of hope that Wake’s journey into the night would get a second chance at triple-A success when the teaser trailer for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare was officially unveiled at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards. That said, even Alan Wake fans who are eagerly anticipating the upcoming game, now an episodic XBLA download title, are sure to be scratching their heads at Remedy’s latest marketing attempt – the digital cover art for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

While the combat in Alan Wake might have been repetitive for some players, others enjoyed the light and dark mechanics (read our Alan Wake review) – as well as the rich an intriguing mystery story (which drew heavily from TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Twin Peaks). Literature lovers also reveled in the various writing mechanics at play – such as collectible pages that foreshadowed upcoming events as well as the game’s overarching episodic structure.

However, as mentioned, one of the biggest struggles for the original Alan Wake was the vague and shadowy marketing – teasing a game that released in the (Red) dead of summer. It was bizarre timing at best, but more accurately boiled down to careless handling of what could have been one of the Xbox 360’s premiere first-party titles.

Unfortunately, while the new digital cover art for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare probably won’t turn-off current fans, it’s hard to imagine that the imagery actually captures the quality of the upcoming title – and that, subsequently, non-fans are going to be willing to give the title a go.

Check out Alan Wake’s American Nightmare cover art below (click to enlarge):

Alan Wakes American Nightmare Cover Art

While the art work might be cool if it were teasing a new Dead Rising title – where cartoony zombie killing with crazy household items might get players excited. There isn’t a lot for non-fans to grab onto here – and, instead, the cover sends a really bizarre message about the potential tone of the game.

That said, for fans, the artwork offers a few enticing teases – that should come as a relief. Remedy has provided a few new details about what players can expect from Alan Wake’s American Nightmare but, much like the story itself, the cover art holds a few intriguing mysteries of its own – especially the flaming vapor trail in the sky and the inclusion of the now familiar Night Springs TV show name. Could the game chronicle Wake’s tumble through a series of bizarre nightmare scenarios that were ripped from the TV show he worked on? Did the mysterious fire in the sky actually transport the ‘darkness’ to its resting place in Cauldron Lake?

For these answers and more… tune into Alan Wake’s American Nightmare when the game releases in Q1 2012 on Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

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