Alan Wake 2 is a tremendous psychological thriller, a horror game that has you rightfully jumping in your seat with well-earned frights.
It’s been 13 years since the first Alan Wake was released from Remedy Entertainment, and the team has only been sharpening their skills for this highly anticipated return, and fans will be enthusiastic every step of the way.
Instead of solely focusing on Alan this time, Alan Wake 2 features a second main character, FBI Agent Saga Anderson. She’s someone I immediately enjoyed from the get-go, and the balancing act between these two is a great way to pace the chillingly dark story. Remedy does a superb job lacing the narrative with brilliant writing, both comedic to lighten the mood and disturbingly horrid. I couldn’t put Alan Wake 2 down, and the Dark Place had me.
- Release Date: October 27, 2023
- Platform: PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
- Price: $49.99 PC, $59.99 Console
- Developer/Publisher: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games Publishing
Return To The Beginning
The focus of Alan Wake 2 begins with Saga Anderson and her partner, Alex Casey. The two of them are investigating a ritual-like murder that occurred at Cauldron Lake near the town of Bright Falls. These two locations were prominent locales in the first game, where Alan learned about the Dark Place and fought against it. Saga’s investigation brings her closer to learning about the Dark Place, but rather than shy away from it or dismiss it, she embraces it and quickly addresses the new rules.
Saga’s acceptance of the situation paves the course forward throughout her tale until she meets Alan, who has been missing for 13 years. It’s a shock to find him struggling with his grip on reality. He doesn’t quite know what to believe, given he’s been stuck in the Dark Place this whole time, along with others who had been chasing him, who also went missing. It’s a cryptic mystery that’s been unresolved for years in the sleepy little town of Bright Falls. Every time a door opens as you progress, more questions surround the narrative, making it captivating to behold and endlessly enjoyable.
The entire story is broken up into distinct chapters, with cliffhanger-like endings that would make Stephen King jealous, a horror writer who was a major inspiration for Alan. Several smaller activities and cases can be solved along the way, and even though they’re on the side, they meaningfully tie into the larger narrative. These side details provide further context to everything going on and illuminate the many mysteries surrounding our two protagonists.
It’s a disturbing rabbit hole for Saga as she finds herself in the middle of this tale, and even more so for Alan as he’s reintroduced into the story. It’s difficult to talk too much about the story beats of Alan Wake 2 without spoiling it, so I want to avoid talking about direct plot points as much as possible. However, there is a point where you can begin switching between playing as Saga and Alan, and these two are drastically different from one another. In comparison to Saga, Alan is a rattled man. His previous experience from the events of the first game leaves him feeling broken, a shattered person who’s been dealing with a creeping dread of terror he can never quite shake, and this dread seeps into the narrative flow of Alan Wake 2.
The gruesome tale surrounding Alan Wake 2 is never taken for granted, and the characters involved elevate every bit of it. Melanie Liburd’s performance as Saga is fantastic, from the small quips she shares with her partner to her emotionally fueled performance opposite Matthew Porretta, who returns as Alan Wake and does a tremendous job of showcasing this damaged character.
Alan Wake 2 is Survival Horror At Its Finest
At the core of its gameplay, Alan Wake 2 is a survival horror experience, played from over-the-shoulder of Saga or Alan. Ammo is scarce, resources are stretched thin, and if you’re not careful and too trigger-happy, it’s to be overwhelmed by your foes, the Taken. Although the Taken look like people, they have a distinct shimmer about them, showing they are from the Dark Place. Like the story of Alan Wake 2, these foes are relentlessly and equally terrifying, making any fight against them a challenge, even if there are only a handful.
Although your character is given lethal weapons, the true source of their power is their control of the light and the many ways they can manifest it. From flashlights to lampposts and even using road flares, the way you can use light against the Taken is exceptionally helpful and makes roaming around in complete darkness a mechanically terrifying choice, even if it’s a requirement. There’s always enough light to see an enemy, but this added element from the original games is elevated in Alan Wake 2.
There’s more to these fights that make them enjoyable as a survival horror player compared to others in games like the Resident Evil franchise. The horror elements make Alan Wake 2 combat memorable, topped with strong narrative pacing, further amplified by environmental terror, and an excellent musical score keeping you on your toes the entire time. The score never stops echoing in the scene, making it difficult to find a place for rest, even in the safe haven of a break room.
It’s a layer of enjoyment I continued to find throughout my playtime. When switching between Saga and Alan, these two brought unique tones to their respective stories, but the horror continued to be top-notch, and I was always enthralled about where to go next and what to expect from Alan Wake 2.
The Graphics in Alan Wake 2 Are a Visual Feast
It’s one thing to have a dark tone, creepy surroundings, and a foggy atmosphere, but it’s another to make all of it look stunning. Nearly every environment I explored in Alan Wake 2 was positively beautiful, and it was exceptionally wonderful to see how much work the Remedy Entertainment team had gone through to make it such a gorgeous setpiece to explore.
The small details I picked up in Alan Wake 2 are vivid, and it’s crazy to take those details in while I explored. It made the coming of the night more terrifying and the sight of light a welcome warmth I hungrily desired as I tore through the Taken, wanting nothing more but safety from everything that hunted me. It was another tool in Remedy’s chest that they used to stoke the story and expertly wield it.
I picked up on so many beautiful shots, ones that were lovely and many more that were grotesque; I loved watching them all. None of the visuals draw too much attention to provide a forced jump scare that some horror games try to lean on. Still, Remedy expertly places everything in their world, making battling against the Taken enjoyable and elegant.
Even though it’s been 13 years since Alan Wake, Remedy Entertainment returns to Bright Falls with a powerful force. The story is fantastic, the characters are phenomenal, and the story is frightening, comical, creepy, heartwarming, and often tragic; I couldn’t put it down and found it difficult to stop playing. The macabre nature of Alan Wake 2 is phenomenal, and I loved every second.
It was an absolute pleasure to rejoin Alan in Alan Wake 2 and to see Saga traverse through this unreal journey. It’s one I’m going to fondly remember for a long time. Remedy gave me the best gift right before Halloween.
|+ Outstanding horror story, with plenty of lively humor and wonderful writing throughout it|
|+ Engaging puzzles and story riddles scattered throughout the map and side content|
|+ Exciting combat against the Taken that felt engaging and challenging|
|+ Gorgeous graphics that make exploring every setpiece wonderous|
|+ Engaging story, even for people unfamiliar with the franchise|
|+ Exceptionally scary at the right moments, justifiably earning a player’s terror|
Gamepur team received a PC code for the purpose of this review.
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