As Remedy Entertainment walked me through a demo of Alan Wake 2, I was immediately taken aback by its breathtaking visuals and environments. The setting was a mix of modern Resident Evil and the supernatural elements of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Alan Wake 2 follows two separate protagonists in FBI agent Saga Anderson and the author Alan Wake. Saga investigates a murder mystery in the small town of Bright Falls while Alan is trapped in a nightmare world, trying to get out.

The first Alan Wake game, which came out in 2010, was inspired by works like Twin Peaks and auteurs like David Lynch and Stephen King. However, whereas the first game was more action-focused, the sequel is much more of a survival horror game. Game director Kyle Rowley tells FANGORIA that much of the game’s inspiration comes from detective shows like True Detective and Fargo, as well as filmmakers such as the Coen Brothers and Ari Aster. “We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from films like Midsommar, Hereditary, The Witch, or The Lighthouse,” Rowley explains. “How do they create horror in the drama, the characters, and more, focusing on that kind of narrative side and the story side, rather than just gore?”

Since the first Alan Wake game was more action-oriented, enemies were on screen for a short time. Players would shine the flashlight on them, shoot once or twice, and the enemies would disappear. Remedy wanted to change that. The hands-off demo showcased quite a few combat encounters with supernatural enemies. They’re dark, imposing, and powerful. The third-person perspective and the relative heaviness of Saga’s movements lent a similar Resident Evil 2 remake vibe. In fights, Saga can use her flashlight to burn enemies and create vulnerable areas to shoot with her weapons. Enemies could take hits quite well, and encounters didn’t end nearly as quickly as the first game’s did.

Rowley says, “We’re now more focused on making the combat scarier, more meaningful, impactful, and desperate. Those enemies are now much more physically present in your face.” He continues, “We’ve made them bigger so that they can, in comparison to Saga, make that contrast between her and the enemies.”

Since light plays a big role in repelling enemies, Remedy took the concept even further. There are lamp posts that shine down and can provide a safe haven for Saga if she runs underneath them. This allows players to recuperate themselves and for Saga to dictate the pace of battles. However, they are temporarily exhausted once Saga leaves them so players can’t abuse the mechanic. There’s also a strategic element to this, adds principal narrative designer Molly Maloney. “I think we put a lot of work into it when it comes to being a psychological horror game.”

One of the main themes in Alan Wake 2 is duality. This is why Remedy went with two protagonists instead of just one. Saga was always going to be part of the game. Alan has been missing for thirteen years, so Saga provides a valuable perspective (the same real-life time frame between the first game and the sequel’s release years). For new players, it’s important to have an entry point into the world of Alan Wake. Her perspective is also essential for the type of story that Remedy wants to tell with Alan Wake 2.

Befitting her role as an FBI agent, players will have to find clues and piece them together on a corkboard to progress further story objectives. To do this, Saga enters the Mind Place, which is a visualization of her inner psyche manifested as a detective’s room.

alan wake 2Mindplace_Wide_COMP

When players enter the Mind Place, the game literally transports Saga into the metaphoric room where she can walk around and interact with the corkboard, pictures, and clues she’s found. It’s important to note that the Mind Place doesn’t act like a pause screen. If Saga is in the middle of a combat encounter, the Mind Place will kick her out.

Maloney clarifies that Alan Wake 2 has one single story, not two separate campaigns. Players can switch freely between Saga and Alan’s viewpoints and journeys. It’s not like in the Resident Evil 2 remake, where players would choose one character to play as first and are then locked into completion before playing the other. Players can play as much as they want with either character and advance their stories all the way through until a certain point towards the end, where their paths converge. Only then must they switch over to the other character to reach that same point.

The developers didn’t want a “wrong” or “right” way to experience it. “Saga has an arc. Alan has an arc. The game itself has an arc. The order in which you play helps contextually inform the player and gives a different experience,” Maloney explains. “We’ve iterated on it to that end. But we’re not there to tell you that you have to stop.”

alan wake 2 CauldronLake_PrimaryPath_Landscape

Alan Wake 2 is releasing in October, but Remedy is still hard at work in development until then. Coffee thermoses are a fun motif in the franchise. In the first game, they act as collectibles for Alan to find throughout his journey. They’re a reference to Twin Peaks, where its main character, Agent Dale Cooper, loves coffee. In Alan Wake 2, thermoses are back, and they can be found in the game as save points to record progress and switch between characters. Remedy says that it plans to support harder difficulty modes for the game.

The studio is still trying to figure out what parameters it wants to tweak for different difficulty modes but doesn’t plan on taking the Resident Evil remake approach, where players have a limited number of times to save the game on higher difficulties. The team plans to base the difficulty on aspects like adjusting resource scarcity, enemy health, and enemy damage.

alan wake 2 cultist_lineup_01_a

Remedy will have two pieces of DLC to support the game further after launch, called Night Springs and Lake House—the former refers to a fictional TV show in the Alan Wake universe. However, the studio isn’t ready to speak on specifics about the expansions quite yet.

After Remedy released Alan Wake, every game the studio created going forward started as a sequel. At one point, Remedy was very interested in a live-action TV and gameplay sequence structure for a game. However, that idea was spun out into 2016’s Quantum Break. At another point, Remedy was also working on a more action-focused version, but it didn’t feel quite right to be a sequel to Alan Wake. As a result, that idea became 2019’s Control. When Remedy received the rights back to the Alan Wake IP from Microsoft in 2019, a number of publishers reached out to the studio. Maloney says that Epic Games had a vision that just felt right, and that Alan Wake 2 has benefited from all of those previous versions that came before it.

Rowley adds that he and Remedy’s creative director Sam Lake are both very happy that they never actually made all those previous versions of Alan Wake 2. He also notes that the game becoming a survival horror was one of its last conceptual iterations, but this is the best version of it that Remedy could’ve done.

Alan Wake 2 is set to launch on October 17 for PC via Epic Games Store, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.

Similar Posts