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‘Alan Wake 2’ Review: A Long-Awaited Return 13 Years Later

“Alan Wake 2” is the first true sequel to the 2010 game, the DLC and gunslinging “Alan Wake’s American Nightmare” and it’s dense and heavy as an ocean all on its own.
“Alan Wake 2” (Courtesy of Remedy Entertainment)


The final line in the original “Alan Wake” uttered by the eponymous protagonist as he sits trapped at the bottom of Cauldron Lake is, “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.” Since then, fans of Remedy Entertainment’s interconnected universe of games have puzzled over what the author meant and if he would ever escape the “Dark Place.”

Alan Wake 2” is the first true sequel to the 2010 game, the DLC and gunslinging “Alan Wake’s American Nightmare” were more diversions than follow-ups to the main story. Newcomers to the franchise don’t necessarily need to have played any of Remedy’s other games to understand this one because it’s as dense and heavy as an ocean all on its own.

A Dual Story

One half of the story follows an FBI agent and new character, Saga Anderson (voiced and portrayed by Melanie Liburd) along with her partner, Alex Casey (voiced by James McCaffrey and portrayed by Sam Lake) as they investigate a series of bizarre ritualistic murders at the hands of the mysterious Cult of the Tree in the charming Pacific Northwestern town of Bright Falls.

The other half follows Alan Wake (voiced by Matthew Porretta and portrayed by Ilkka Villi) as he traverses a demented version of New York City inside the Dark Place while being pursued by the Taken and taunted by an enigmatic talk show host, Warlin Door (voiced and portrayed by David Harewood).

Switching between these keeps the game feeling fresh and each location is just gorgeous, at times it’s almost lifelike. Bright Falls is dense and quaint while its woods are beautiful but dangerous as enemies seem to spawn out of its shadows. New York City is rain-soaked and nearly pitch black save for the neon signs and streetlamps.

A unique mechanic added to the game is each character’s ability to generate a “Mind Palace” they can seamlessly visit between gameplay to piece together the unfolding events of the story and figure out their next moves. Alan can change the environment by manipulating light sources to solve puzzles whereas Saga’s sections primarily focus on combat.

Unfortunately, where this game suffers is combat. While there are a few more enemy variants, the basic gameplay loop of using a flashlight to burn away the protective dark shell on enemies and then blasting them with firearms is largely what it consists of. Another drawback would be some glitching that occurs for any game that has barely been released but has already been addressed by the studio.

A Studio’s Best

The Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment has always straddled the line between prioritizing narrative, gameplay and presentation with their games but has never failed to continue to push video games as a storytelling medium. Its key creative director and face of the company, Sam Lake, continues to push the company in interesting ways.

“We still have work to do to really make games a recognizable cultural art,” Lake said in an interview with Inverse. “We need to be bold enough and keep experimenting with interactivity in story and interactivity in visuals. We need to be making sure that we have creators or artists bringing in themes, topics, personality, and unique approaches that excite them.”

“Alan Wake 2” is arguably their most impressive accomplishment yet as it melds live-action, gameplay, and auditory elements in inventive and sometimes absurd ways. For example, there’s a key sequence where Alan has to find his way out of a maze literally created by rock music that even an acid-tripping Steven Tyler couldn’t dream up.

Additionally, the studio collaborated with Fried Music to put together a soundtrack that highlights some Finnish artists. A new song plays at the end of each chapter as a breather with lyrics that relate to the story. The first released song and single “Follow You into the Dark” featuring RAKEL is without a doubt the best song on the track.

Already the game is receiving some Game of the Year chatter alongside other giants in the gaming space this year like “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” “Resident Evil 4” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.” Already its review scores are staggeringly impressive, a rarity this late in the year.

“Alan Wake 2” is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and the Epic Games Store. Unfortunately as of now, there is no physical release option. The base game is $49.99 whereas the Deluxe Edition which features a story expansion pass and extra cosmetics is $69.99. The original game and the remastered version are both available for purchase as well.


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About the Contributor
Andre Montoya, Arts Writer
Andre Montoya is a senior at the University of Utah double majoring in English and communications with an emphasis in journalism. He began writing for the Arts Desk at the Daily Utah Chronicle in Fall 2022. Previously, he has written for the West View Media and Voices of Utah, formerly run by now retired U professor Dr. Kim Mangun. He can often be found around campus glued to his laptop working on assignments or at the Student Life Center exercising. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels, photography, binge-watching shows and movies, or spending time with friends.

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