Remedy Entertainment's latest title puts us back into the shoes of the famed writer as he looks to escape the Dark Place, while co-protagonist Saga Anderson unravels an unsettling mystery. Here are our thoughts on Alan Wake 2.
"Alan Wake 2 is one of the bravest AAA games we've ever played.It's not brave in the sense that a myriad of mechanics and systems have been squeezed together to illustrate some kind of advanced awesomeness, because the game we have here is in many ways quite simple."
"It's brave because it's so inseparable from the studio that created it, a vision so pure that it's hard to see how Remedy convinced its partner, Epic Games, to fund it.If A24, which has footed the bill for some of the most landmark horror films of the past ten years, suddenly had $250 million to play with and didn't have to compromise on a specific vision as a result, they'd make Alan Wake 2."
"Okay, we'll open with praise, and it's well deserved because Alan Wake 2 is unlike any other AAA production in that it feels like pure arthouse, but paired with the epic proportions of even the most expensive productions.This is Remedy, and perhaps most crucially Sam Lake, at its most Remedy-esque, and it's hard not to feel bemused that a studio with such a clear idea of what they want to make would set aside all market logic in a direct pursuit of making the best version of the game they want to make."
"Nothing less.Nothing more.Okay, we'll stop now.So what is Alan Wake 2 all about?The sequel picks up, funnily enough, thirteen years after the events at Cauldron Lake in the first game, which is the same period of time that has passed since its launch in 2010."
"FBI agent Saga Anderson arrives in Bright Falls to investigate a series of ritualistic murders around the lake by what appears to be some kind of cult.The bodies seem to indicate they've been in the lake for an extended period of time, but they haven't drowned, and why are the manuscript pages around the crime scenes describing exactly what the investigators are thinking?Meanwhile, after all these years, Alan is trying to escape the supernatural prison called The Dark Place that he placed himself in so many years ago, and through Saga, he is inspired to dig deeper for a way out."
"Alan Wake 2 is a survival horror game with a capital S and H. The controls are heavier, direct confrontations with enemies are more sparse, and a myriad of adrenaline-pumping effects have been mixed in with the recognisable gameplay formula to ensure that a heavy tapestry of almost tangible atmosphere envelops the player from start to finish."
"The way you actually play Alan Wake 2 will, as mentioned, seem familiar to most, as you explore often large, often cramped and linear areas for upgrades, crucial resources and extra information about Bright Falls and the surrounding area, while using your flashlight to break enemy shields and then shooting afterwards to seal the deal, so to speak."
"Some would call it mechanically rudimentary, and you'd have to agree with them, but just because the basic gameplay is recognisable doesn't necessarily mean it's a hindrance.In Alan Wake 2, mechanics, systems, storytelling and the world around you exist in perfect harmony, and thanks to small fixes here and there, the game is always creepy, never too easy and never too hard."
"It's pretty clear that Remedy has focused more on spacing between enemies, positioning to keep you on your toes at all times, and finally making sure that every encounter with an enemy feels meaningful.Playing Alan Wake 2 is a heavy, impactful and intentional journey into the heart of evil, where two people tackling a problem from two very different starting points work together across realities to challenge the darkness."
"It's a hair-raising story that doesn't skimp on effective physical detail, or gore as horror aficionados summarise it, or adrenaline-pumping effects.The characters are well-written and well-realised, and most importantly, there's a Twin Peaks-esque weirdness factor that's unique to Remedy."
"As David Lynch has done before with Twin Peaks, but also with many other works such as Inland Empire, the bizarre is cooked up with the conventional and mundane, creating a kind of constant unsettling sensation that sits on your spine throughout.In other words, it works."
"There are a few lines that are a little too direct, as if Remedy hasn't quite got it right in their style, and these often come from Saga, who, especially in the game's first chapter, appears a little more blue-eyed than she undoubtedly is.However, there are only a few instances here and there, and in general, Remedy delivers an excellent script that maintains the mystery, the obscurity and the allure throughout."
"To return to the A24 analogy, it's truly amazing that Remedy not only makes games based on such uncompromised visions, but manages to combine it with obviously advanced technology.The new version of the Northlight graphics engine not only delivers relatively good-looking character models, but perhaps most crucially, landmark, breathtaking environments that are only further enhanced by the studio's masterful sense of lighting, interior positioning and structuring of sequences and scenes."
"Like Control, everything is solidly timed and organised and looks fabulous, but unlike Control's oldest house, Remedy finds the magic by inserting the horror under the skin of the mundane, just like in Twin Peaks, and as a result, Alan Wake 2 is both a virtue to watch and to listen to."
"We may end up regretting how much we've fallen for Alan Wake 2.Now, this review is certainly not written to fit into a critical consensus we don't yet know anything about, but it's always vulnerable to step out of the shadows and proclaim that you consider a game to be a masterpiece."
"But Remedy deserve that honour.They deserve all the praise we can muster for being brave enough to make some exciting design choices that limit Alan Wake 2's mass appeal, but increase the enjoyment for those of us who remain."
"They deserve for us to call this game what we think it is, a masterpiece.They deserve a 10, and even though the game industry's Prince Charming will be bathing in Game of the Year awards in December, we'll be thinking of Cauldron Lake."