Autumn 2023 Mini-Reviews: Sugar Shack & Alan Wake 2

(Shush. I know it is now 2024 and I am just getting around to this in January, but I got distracted, then COVID, and now I am able to focus on catching up.)

I tried to keep my gaming focused a little more in September and October. Knowing that a good chunk of my time would be spent with Alan and Saga helped with the planning. So instead of trying to do two console games, it made sense to play something from my Steam wishlist while watching TV with the husband to counter running around Bright Falls during the day. And because I have a problem, that meant I ended up enjoying yet another restaurant resource/farming game.

Sugar Shack cooking

Sugar Shack

As I’ve said many times before in my time as a reviewer, you show me an indie game made by a Canadian studio and I want to play it. Sugar Shack popped onto my radar not only for that reason, but also because the themes of the game are rooted in French Canadian folklore. Running a maple syrup farm? Check. Shady deals with the Devil? Got that, too. Flying canoes? Only in Canada!

The first thing that makes Sugar Shack stand out is the use of hexagon tiles that form your map. Some are earned, others purchased, but pretty much every single one can be moved around as you like. Not happy with where you placed one? Head upstairs in the shack and interact with the map to put it elsewhere. Eventually you’ll have all of them and adjusting where the hell those water or animal tiles are can shorten your gathering time.

Your days are going to be fairly packed; first off, you’ll want to keep the maple supplies boiling. The majority of your shack’s recipes include the sweet, sticky stuff. From there it’s all about feeding the tourists to increase your reputation. Set your menu using the podium near the fireplace inside the shack and light the fire to signal that you’re open. Everything is cyclical. Feed the people to earn money to buy new tiles or ingredients to make more money to buy better tools and repeat. Along the lines of practically every other game in this category.

Sugar Shack map tiles

I did run into some annoying hiccups that I’m hoping have been fixed by now. Namely, placing kitchen appliances and having them vanish the next day. Those high tier machines eat up a lot of resources, so the disappearing act hurt a lot. Another launch issue that I know was patched fixed pathing for the important NPCs. They would wander way off from their daytime posts and make it hard to complete quest steps.

After taking a bit of a long break from it, I did come back to the shack and finish the story. The ending was sort of anti-climactic but not unexpected. All in all, Sugar Shack did keep me entertained and often had me lose track of time. Recommend it if you’re big into these sorts of games and bonus points if you can grab it on sale.

Alan Wake 2

I still remember when Alan Wake came out on Xbox 360. The in-game Verizon ads that were eventually removed, hunting down blue Thermoses, picking up loose manuscript pages, and the awesome new gameplay mechanic that was the flashlight. It was one of those experiences that lingered with me for so long. A few years back, I was lucky enough to cover the remaster for PlayStation LifeStyle, which had brought all of those memories back. A sequel seemed so unlikely. Remedy wanted to do other things. Something you can’t blame a talented group of developers for. And then….

First off, I need to say that I absolutely hate that Alan Wake 2 is digital only right now. I understand reducing costs and production time and pushing this out to fans. But I am just never going to be 100% on board with a digital only lifestyle. Every morning I wake up hoping that there’s an email from iam8bit or Limited Run in my inbox letting me know about some $199.99 hard copy that comes with an Oh Deer! Thermos and a set of dolls. Still waiting. Impatiently…

Alrighty then, back to talking about AW2. This game consumed my life from start to finish; the only ESO things I did were log in for the daily bonuses. I didn’t even touch Fallout 76! So you know where my priorities were. Meeting Saga Anderson and watching the threads tying her to Bright Falls was a real joy. From her Mind Palace to discovering her latent parautilitarian abilities, I decided to play several of her chapters back to back instead of alternating between her and Alan as I’d previously planned.


The highlight of the entire game for me was the musical chapter, for sure. Watching the live action song and dance had me in stitches. Sometimes to the point that I forgot I was supposed to be switching the lights to get through the studio. Can you blame me? Especially when the one body glitched into the stairs and was grooving to the music as I clipped above. Actual tears of laughter streamed down my face.

Up next is playing AW2 again for Final Draft. However, I decided I need to do this after I finish a playthrough of Control. There are nuggets of information there that I’m sure will answer some questions I have or nudge me in the right direction for theories rattling in the back of my brain. Best part is I’ve been so slow to finish Control that the update for AW2 that added chapter loading is finally here.

So that’s pretty much the big gaming stuff I’ve been up to lately. Now that I’ve made it through the holiday season without going broke, it’ll be time to dive head first into Persona 3 Reload any day now. If we’re lucky, I might even write something up about it by March. 🤣

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