Alan Wake 2, the sequel to the promising game released in 2010 by Remedy Entertainment, is a new chapter in the world of the horror story writer that we’ve already somewhat forgotten about.
Alan Wake was heralded as a generational leap in character-driven and story-driven video games when it launched in 2010, winning over many horror game fans and firmly establishing creator Remedy Entertainment as an innovator in the gaming world. After several acclaimed games, the studio returned to design and released the game’s sequel, Alan Wake 2, playable on Windows, PS5, and Xbox Series X, on October 27 last year.
Some even claim that the second sequel to the story of a horror writer who gets lost in a mysterious town is essentially a full-fledged successor to Silent Hill, whose attractiveness even led to the making of a slot game that can be found on online bookmakers that have casino sections, such as bookmakers in South Africa. Is this really so or should we still wait for the re-release of Silent Hill 2 which is planned for late 2024?
Find out the answers to these questions in the following exhaustive review.
13 Years Later
The action takes place 13 years after the disappearance of the writer Alan Wake at the end of the first game, more precisely after his constant attempts to escape from the mysterious Dark Place. In addition to the main character, we now have the opportunity to play with a new one. It’s Saga Anderson, an FBI agent who was sent by the Agency to the sleepy town of Bright Falls to find the culprits behind a series of ritual murders.
The game takes turns, depending on the chapters and parts of the story, and you play with both characters, each following their own story threads that go parallel and intertwine with each other, and you can switch between them at certain points, allowing you to experience the journey of both characters in their own unique order.
Although the story continues almost without interruption from the first installment, things still look quite different in Bright Falls. Alan Wake was the kind of game we’d rather call spooky than scary; Alan Wake 2 is a true survival horror, full of brutal encounters, tense and terrifying immersions in the world of darkness and horror, and surprisingly bloody violence.
For both Saga in the real world and Alan in the Dark Place, staying alive means making proper use of the resources at your disposal. Of course, your main enemies are still the famous Taken, i.e. the souls of the murdered who are surrounded by a dark aura, which you can’t kill until you remove the dark aura from them. Of course, you remove it with different light sources, which are similar in this game as in the first one, with of course some changes and refinements.
Far More Survival Horror Compared to the First Sequel
Control, Remedy’s last game before the Alan Wake sequel, was a chaotic fantasy that tried to be anything but survival horror. In contrast, Alan Wake 2 is a game of tension and release; long moments of slowly rising tension and increasing fear, punctuated by short moments of violence and occasional panic. The brilliantly impressive gameplay is further enhanced by the way the game uses weapons: for example, when you hit the Taken’s weak spot, it’s obvious, as the shot echoes, smoke shadows emerge from the wound, and the creature recoils until they shrug their shoulders despite having half their bodies blown up and start attacking you again.
The first installment had a very specific and satisfying rhythm: duck and avoid the Taken, light them, shoot them, and repeat until they are all destroyed. Alan Wake 2 technically has all the same mechanics in place, but they don’t connect as smoothly, preventing that familiar routine we got used to playing the first installment. The second installment focused on different things: keeping the player on edge and surviving. You’ll have to work hard to survive the attacks and “earn” your moments of respite, so to speak.
For us, one of the most fearsome enemies in the game was the wolves, who lurk in the forest outside of Bright Falls. They’re not even that monstrous and they’re not easy to kill, but the way they lurk, circling around you in the undergrowth, looking for space and time to pounce on you before retreating out of sight until they seize the next opportunity to pounce on you, leads to wonderfully memorable games of hunter and hunted in which you’re often not the hunter but quite the opposite.
The Action Segment Is Presented Perfectly
Remedy knows well how to present the action segment in its games. It’s no wonder, given that the company has experience in making creative games with excellent combat systems since 2001 and the first sequel to Max Payne. However, what you can see, especially if you have a more sensitive eye for survival horror elements, is that they don’t have that much experience in creating escapades that will make you carefully consider what might be waiting for you next.
The long periods of silence before a fight breaks out between you and the “residents” of Bright Falls do a great job of creating atmosphere and tension, but between these situations, you have a lot of opportunities to equip yourself with precious resources. Additionally, we’re sure some players will agree that the inventory is kind of too complicated, meaning you’ll have to fiddle with it more than you’d like when you’d rather just quickly equip your character with a weapon and go into battle against Taken.
In the moments of combat, when you as a player reach the locations where you’ll fight against enemies, we can’t escape the impression that the game sometimes has a problem with deploying enemies in such a way that each encounter with them isn’t similar or the same as the last one. True, the encounters are always exciting, but you can sometimes have the impression that the Taken have been created around you just to keep you busy, that is, to keep you from getting bored.
For ordinary enemies, i.e. for those who aren’t bosses, there’s no special introduction or presentation. The exception is one enemy that attacks you later in the game. The vast majority of standard enemies are Taken, former residents of the mysterious town of Bright Falls. We’re not saying they’re poorly designed, but it wouldn’t be out of place if the developers put a little more effort into their variety. A good example of the variety of enemies is the game that also came out last year: Resident Evil 4 Remake. Even the DLC content for the game Control, which was designed on the theme of Alan Wake by Remedy, provided a somewhat more grotesque and visually exciting view compared to Alan Wake 2, as far as enemies are concerned.
The Story Told…
But even if the survival horror elements can sometimes be objected to, it’s not really that big of a problem because, actually, the action is only one part of what Alan Wake 2 has to offer. What Remedy was far more concerned with in Alan Wake 2 was storytelling. And what we can say is that the story is told very well. Not perfect, but very well, especially if you have the patience for all the things you would have to do to find out all the details.
As in the first part, the horror and evil that descend on Bright Falls are driven by an evil force that is, as it were, born of the writer’s creation, or lack thereof, warping reality into what suits the story that follows. It’s a wonderful excuse to create a metaverse, something that’s already quite present in a number of games and movies, blurring the lines between the story the game tells you, the story Alan wrote, and references to our own world and Remedy’s past games.
What’s the real backstory of Saga and the other new characters, and what was changed and connected to the real world? Did real events inspire fiction, or did fiction retroactively create real events? Are they even real people or completely fictional constructs? These are all questions that will come to mind as you play Alan Wake 2.
It’s true that all of this can feel overly cheesy and convoluted, even to unnecessary levels, but Remedy’s style of game design has a kind of infectious enthusiasm, and it’s more evident than ever here. The game is simply bursting with ideas and wants to show you every single one so that they are all mixed into a perfectly harmonious mess of ideas and concepts.
This is a game where the real-life creative director, Sam Lake, creates a face for a character named Alex Casey, who’s an FBI agent in the real world, but also an incarnation of Max Payne and a character from a book written by Alan Wake, a film based on that book, starring the real Sam Lake who appears on a talk show to talk about the role, while Alan writes and experiences the mystery of Alex Casey’s murder, which could also have happened to the real Alex Casey. Yes, this is the kind of thing we’re talking about. To make matters better, this is just a part of what awaits you in Alan Wake 2. If you like this kind of storytelling and the involvement of the metaverse in it all, then you’ll definitely enjoy this game.
Bright Falls Has Never Looked Better
Bright Falls wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t portrayed the way it was portrayed. And it’s portrayed in a fantastic way. Thanks to the excellent use of light and shadows, Alan Wake 2 looks great. Some will say that these effects aren’t as stunning as they were in the first part that was released in 2010, but our opinion is that the game still looks awesome. Even at lower settings, Alan Wake 2 will amaze you to such an extent that you’ll want to stop and admire the sunset for a moment more than once during the gameplay. The graphics of the characters, that is, their animation, are also done in a very good way.
The characters look very realistic, and their movements and facial expressions are so convincing that the game can almost seamlessly blend the interactions that take place in the game in real-time with the animated sequences. But none of this comes “for free”. Moreover, in order to enjoy all the benefits that the game shows, at least as far as what the PC version shows, you’ll need to have quite a bit of power in terms of components. The game is, of course, also available for the latest generation consoles, but the console version doesn’t show everything that Alan Wake 2 can boast of and that you can enjoy on the computer.
In addition to the visual treats that Alan Wake 2 certainly boasts, the game boasts many other features that could appeal to any average survival horror fan. The story is convoluted, sometimes too much, to the point where you’re not really sure what’s real now, what was real before, what’s going to happen, and what your role is in it all. Yes, to that extent the sequence, that is, the story loop of the Alan Wake 2 game can go. Is the story more complex than the story from the first sequel? It certainly is. Is that good or not so good? The answer to that question will be provided by each player for himself, of course. after completing the game.
Here again, we can draw comparisons between the game Control and Alan Wake 2. While Control inspired the idea of a shared multiverse of Remedy games, Alan Wake 2 implements that idea and greatly expands on that idea. We have the impression that Remedy learned through its past games and decided to consolidate and implement a lot of that knowledge in this game. You can also feel the Scandinavian touch in the game. Remedy is based in Finland and although this has always influenced the stories it tells, it has somehow not been felt until now. The company tried to tell the American horror story as best as possible. But with Alan Wake 2 things are different. Alan Wake 2 may still take place in Washington, but this time the game has far more touches of Finnish culture, as well as Scandinavian mythology, which makes for a nice combination of an American horror story, told in the style of Stephen King, and a display of Northern European culture’s features.
When all is said and done, and when it’s underlined, one can definitely conclude that Alan Wake 2 is probably Remedy’s boldest and best effort yet. It’s a very good survival horror game, which will amaze you and at times overwhelm you with its storytelling, but will keep you riveted to your computer or TV screens until the very end.