When we recently interviewed Sam Lake about the development process of Alan Wake 2, he expressed his excitement and satisfaction with the current version of the game. After playing it myself, I finally understood what he meant. In my two-hour playthrough of Alan Wake 2, I was thoroughly impressed in many aspects. Lake specifically mentioned the shift to survival horror, and from my limited experience with the game, it’s clear that this was the right decision. The gameplay mechanics from the first Alan Wake now feel essential and cohesive, rather than a mere gimmick on top of an action game with a thriller theme.
As a long-time fan of Remedy, the most thrilling aspect for me wasn’t the exhilaration of burning away darkness before shooting enemies, nor was it the process of investigating the environment and solving puzzles. What really stuck with me was the studio’s unwavering confidence in executing their ideas and the unique Remedy touch. While turning Alan Wake 2 into a survival horror game was a breakthrough, Remedy’s true triumphs are evident in the games they have created since the original Alan Wake.
The Eerie Town of Watery
The part of the game I played focused on Saga Anderson, an FBI agent investigating ritualistic killings in Bright Falls. Saga finds herself in the dreary town of Watery, just a few miles southwest of Bright Falls. The town is enveloped in an eerie fog and exudes a gloomy atmosphere with its dilapidated buildings, trailers, and signs of a recent flood. Everything blends together in shades of gray, and it’s definitely not a place you’d want to visit.
Interestingly, fans of Remedy’s previous game Control may recall a postcard featuring Ahti, the supernatural janitor, at a vacation home in Watery. Intrigued by the sound of singing, I stumbled upon Ahti performing passionately on a stage. This self-assuredness displayed by Remedy struck me as they showcased original Finnish music, a departure from their usual inclusion of licensed tracks from well-known artists. Ahti’s performance, with its warm glow and captivated audience, left me spellbound for the duration of the song. It felt like a proud statement of Remedy’s identity and their willingness to embrace their Finnish roots.
Sam Lake also touched on this aspect in our interview, expressing pride in their culture and acknowledging the uniqueness it brings to their games. He shared, “Why not just proudly embrace it?”
Remedy’s Expanding Universe
Alan Wake 2 shares several connections with Control, and the impact of the latter game and its reception was more significant than initially realized. Ahti, in particular, became a beloved character, showcasing Remedy’s ability to draw inspiration from their own culture. As Lake mentioned, the positive reception of Ahti and the recognition received by the actor portraying him, Martti Suosalo, served as confirmation that Remedy can continue exploring their assets and incorporating them into their games.
During my time with Alan Wake 2, I caught glimpses of Remedy’s distinct atmosphere and Finnish influences, which added a small-town weirdness reminiscent of David Lynch’s works and the mysterious murder mysteries often seen in David Fincher’s films. The studio expertly weaves these elements into the game, creating an unforgettable experience.
An Immersive Journey in Watery
In Watery, it was clear that the townsfolk had a long history with Saga Anderson, even though she didn’t seem as familiar with them. This narrative dynamic allowed me to learn more about Saga’s backstory through the perspective of other characters. It also translated into gameplay, as I could navigate Watery by pretending to be a local and using spare keys I obtained from Coffee World, a coffee-themed amusement park. Along the way, I found myself traversing the twisted trails of Watery’s woods at night, engaging in over-the-shoulder survival-horror combat.
Alan Wake 2 follows the familiar format of its predecessor, with weighty movement and satisfying gunplay. However, what sets it apart is the interaction between Saga’s flashlight and the darkness that engulfs the enemies known as the Taken. Like in the first game, enemies have a shield of darkness that absorbs damage. By focusing the flashlight on them, the shield dissipates, allowing for an explosive finish. This gameplay mechanic, coupled with the eerie atmosphere, adds that signature Remedy touch.
While I won’t spoil any specific moments, these glimpses into the game left a lasting impression on me. Overall, Alan Wake 2 promises an immersive and unique experience, blending familiar elements with Remedy’s distinct style and Finnish influences.